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Indonesia needs to clarify its stance on Afghanistan

By Geoffrey Gold - posted Wednesday, 31 October 2001

Despite the goodwill generated by President Megawati Soekarnoputri’s timely visits to the USA and Japan to promote investment and aid, global media attention is now focusing on domestic demands for Indonesia to break relations with the USA and to back the Taliban regime in Afghanistan with financial and military assistance.

There is considerable disquiet that senior religious authorities have couched the Afghanistan situation in religious terms and that politicians have argued that the motivations behind the terror attacks on the United States are morally valid.

As a result, threats against American and other foreign residents and tourists and diplomatic, cultural and business interests are being taken seriously by governments and individuals alike, at great cost to Indonesia’s trade and development opportunities.


This is all very confusing to business partners, investors and aid facilitators who assumed that Indonesia’s well established foreign policy and international commitments reflected its national interests and the sentiments of its citizens.

According to public record, four consecutive Indonesian presidents and their administrations have instituted or maintained specific diplomatic policies aligning Indonesia with anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Decisions of the United Nations Security Council also appear to further bind Indonesia to supporting action against the Taliban, to banning any contact with Usama bin Laden, to criminalize any financial assistance to terrorists, to suppress any recruitment of members for terrorists and to eliminate the supply of weapons to terrorists.

Does Indonesia support the Taliban regime in Afghanistan?

On the contrary, Indonesia recognizes the Taliban’s enemy – the Islamic State of Afghanistan under its president, Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani – as the lawful government of Afghanistan. Just check the embassy [Jl Dr Kusumaatmaja SH, No 15, Menteng, Jakarta. Tel 314-3169].

Is the government recognized by Indonesia active inside Afghanistan?


President Rabbani’s army, known internationally as the "Northern Alliance", is unleashing a major action against the Taliban and may soon capture Kabul. It has agreed to participate in an interim administration through a broad Supreme National Unity Council whose first task will be to call a meeting of the traditional Loya Jirga tribal council.

Who does the United Nations recognize as the government of Afghanistan?

The UN only recognizes Rabbani’s Islamic State of Afghanistan. Only one UN member – Pakistan – recognizes the Taliban.

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About the Author

Geoffrey Gold is Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Group Asia/Pacific Ltd in Jakarta.

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