Indonesia Increases Defense Budget amid Tensions in South China Sea

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Indonesia Increases Defense Budget amid Tensions in South China Sea

Source: Global Indonesian Voices / Indonesian Navy Warships

In 2016, Indonesian military will have more money. Yesterday Indonesia’s parliament agreed to increase the country’s defense budget to 108.7 trillion-rupiah ($8.25 billion). This is about 10% more than the original annual budget.

Some part of the funds will be used for building a port and upgrading the air base on the Natuna Islands. According to Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, such upgrades will let Jakarta to have more aircrafts and warships on the remote islands, whose nearby waters are claimed by China.

Last Thursday Indonesian Prime Minister Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited the Natuna Islands. During a Cabinet meeting on the board of a warship, he ordered to strengthen patrols in the area.

“I want the military and our coast guard to have improved radar technology, as well as better patrol capability”, he said.

It was a strong signal that Jakarta is serious about protection of its sovereignty over the maritime territories in the southern part of the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, while other countries in the region have overlapping claims. Last year the tensions in the region were raised by activities by Chinese fishermen in disputed waters and reclamation works started by Beijing on the disputed islands and reefs.

Indonesia and China do not have any competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. But Jakarta started to worry, after in March Beijing said that the waters around the Natuna Islands, which are a part of Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, are a part of its “traditional fishing grounds”.

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  • Veritas Vincit

    China (PRC) and Indonesia (RI) do not seek a deterioration of relations despite areas of disagreement (where some western powers and their media assets seek to fuel tensions to further their interests).

    It is worth observing both are subject to increasing security challenges by the military build-up of a western military bloc in the region. As such the enhancement of ties (political, commercial and military) between the Russian Federation (RF), the PRC and the RI would be to their benefit.

    ‘The enhancement of Russian-Indonesian ties’

    “[Indonesia] is interested in maintaining and strengthening its defense capability and for this purpose modern and well-equipped armed forces are needed,” [Russia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Mikhail Galuzin] said. “As the Russian ambassador, I can say [that] today the Indonesian armed forces operate advanced examples of Russian military hardware….. “[We] will continue doing everything possible to ensure that military and technical cooperation between Russia and Indonesia should develop further to the mutual benefit of both sides….. The sphere of ensuring security, both regional and global, “is a very promising sphere of Russian-Indonesian relations,” he added. (Russia, Indonesia can further develop military-technical cooperation — diplomat, Tass, June 28, 2016)

    The enhancement of ties between Indonesia and the Russian Federation is not only mutually beneficial but is a logical response to challenges both face. Indonesian analysts would recognise that like the Russian Federation (that is subject to active U.S./NATO/allied economic warfare/ partition/ destabilisation/ regime change operations and the regional build-up of military forces/missile architecture by this bloc, etc.), it is also subject to increasing security challenges by the significant regional military build-up of the U.S./allied military bloc.

    Despite official rhetoric (claims of respecting the territorial integrity of Indonesia), this bloc is still involved in ongoing partition operations against Indonesia (such as in West Papua as employed against E Timor).

    “sponsoring West Papuan independence, will cause heartache in Jakarta but jubilation in Jayapura.” (West Papua Project, Sydney) [Political officials, military intelligence officers, separatist activists, key academics with intelligence affiliations, etc. are involved in this project]

    “there are a number of countries that have an interest in destabilising Freeport”….. Sudarsono said foreign NGOs and governments had a history of backing groups that “agitate” in Papua, which has been the site of a low-level separatist conflict since the 1960s. Asked which countries he was referring to, Sudarsono said: “Apparently many neighbouring countries to the south.” Indonesia’s southern neighbours are Australia and New Zealand. (Indonesia says ‘foreign countries’ linked to attacks, Jul 16, 2009)

    Such partition operations relate to commercial objectives (more favourable conditions for resource extraction projects) and the weakening of potential rivals. For example:

    “West Papua is an extremely rich country. It has vast reserves of Copper and gold, oil and gas, large areas of virgin hardwood forests” (Australia West Papua Association, South Australia)

    • Veritas Vincit

      p2. Australia is actively involved in such operations, including in its immediate region. For example, it is also interesting to observe how after maintaining an official policy of supporting Indonesian sovereignty over E Timor, Australia quietly worked with the U.S. to partition E Timor. These efforts coincided with feasibility studies that were conducted into Timor Sea resource extraction projects. Indeed, these partition operations facilitated favourable (exploitive) resource agreements/concessions involving resources/ territory formerly part of Indonesia. These operations are intended to weaken Indonesia and to exploit regional resources.

      “Australia’s role is indeed that of a sub-imperialist …its [actions] in East Timor [are] a matter of protecting preferential oil and natural gas concessions in the Timor Gap and defying its major regional rival Indonesia” (Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO, 06/05/2009).

      “The Howard government decided in early 1999 to work for East Timor’s independence but concealed this from the Indonesian government, John Howard and Alexander Downer have revealed. And senior Australian and US officials have disclosed that the Clinton administration threatened Jakarta with US military retaliation if Indonesian forces contested the Australian-led UN intervention in East Timor…… Before the Australia-led UN force under Major General Peter Cosgrove landed in East Timor, US defence secretary William Cohen visited Jakarta and delivered a lethal warning. Former foreign affairs chief Ashton Calvert said: “The message Cohen conveyed was, ‘If you touch the Australians, the United States will come after you’.”….. Mr Cohen’s message to Indonesia’s president Habibie and defence minister General Wiranto was that “this deployment must not be contested”.”(John Howard’s covert East Timor independence plan, The Australian, September 05, 2009)

      “Formally known as the Timor Sea Treaty between the Government of East Timor and the Government of Australia was signed between Australia and East Timor in Dili, East Timor on May 20, 2002, the day East Timor attained its independence from United Nations rule, for joint petroleum exploration of the Timor Sea by the two countries.” (Timor Sea Treaty, Wikipedia)

      “[East Timor] Banners and signs read: “We don’t need your [Australian] aid—we need our oil back!” “Hands off Timor’s Oil” and “Permanent, fair maritime boundaries.”. Australian imperialism’s record in the Timor Sea is one of unrestrained criminality. After the Indonesian invasion of Timor in 1975, which was backed by the Whitlam Labor government, the Hawke Labor government signed a deal with the Suharto junta securing Australian oil and gas companies’ access to lucrative energy reserves, including in the massive Greater Sunrise underwater field. Australian policy shifted gears after Suharto’s downfall in 1998—it backed a referendum on independence in 1999 and launched a military intervention on bogus “humanitarian” grounds—as a means of protecting its oil and gas interests.” (Large protests in East Timor over ongoing Australian oil theft, 26 March 2016), etc…….

      Australia has also tried to redraw territorial sea boundaries in an effort to secure claims to resources logically located within E Timor’s sea boundaries:

      “East Timor points out the [Australian] imposition of the boundary contravenes the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which Australia withdrew from recognising just before negotiations with East Timor. Under this convention, all of the Greater Sunrise field should be within East Timor’s exclusive economic zone. East Timor reluctantly signed the Timor Sea Treaty, CMATS and the IUA in 2002-3 with a metaphorical gun to its head.” (Woodside gas deal could redraw Australia-East Timor borders, Professor Damien Kingsbury, Feb 12, 2013)

      • Veritas Vincit

        p3. ‘U.S.,U.K. and Australian involvement in the 1965-66 Indonesian mass killings’

        “[Declassified] documents [reveal] the precise role of the United States, Britain, Australia and other western governments in both attempting to provoke an armed takeover of Indonesia in 1965 and in supporting the mass killings by the army and civilian groups which followed….. the National Security Council of the US approved a covert propaganda campaign inside Indonesia… The United States government was sympathetic with and admiring of what the army was doing [mass killings]…. The [U.S.] embassy could make covert payments to what was ostensibly a civilian group. Kap-Gestapu, the coalition of Muslim, Christian, Nationalist, and other civilian groups, which was carrying out the killings alongside the army….. Chances of detection or subsequent revelation of our [U.S.] support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be… It’s very clear that the US extended this active assistance to the Indonesian army precisely as they became aware of the scale of the killings – and in full expectation that their assistance would enable the army to carry out these killings and indeed to expand them…… [The Australian government was] delighted ….” (Accomplices in Atrocity. The Indonesian killings of 1965, ABC, 07/09/2008)

        “He would be a very cautious man who did not derive some encouragement from events in Indonesia over the past week.” [Australian Embassy communication]

        Declassified documents reveal that the U.S., Britain and Australia were involved in facilitating the mass murder of Indonesians who were identified as ‘communist sympathisers’. Communications also reveal they were pleased by these events. Over 500,000 Indonesians were slaughtered as a result of this event that was covertly engineered/ supported by Western powers. Disclosed intelligence documents reveal that the Australians supported the mass killings of Indonesians as strategically beneficial. In response to Australia’s covert role (as part of U.S. black operations) in the mass killing of Indonesians in 1965-66, its PM stated:

        “with 500,000 to a million [Indonesian] communist sympathisers knocked off…I think it’s safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.” [Australian PM Harold Holt]

        Such behaviour speaks for itself.

        • Veritas Vincit

          p4. The increase in Indonesian defensive capabilities is likely in response to numerous factors but the U.S.-Australian military build-up would be a significant factor. For example:

          “defense analysts from both countries expect an increased presence in Australia for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines in the form of bombers, nuclear submarines, missiles and troops…. it’s likely the Air Force will begin using runways in the northern part of the country, possibly for the B-52 strategic bomber and B-2 stealth bomber… [missile architecture] cooperation is more likely to speed up….” (Deal likely to bring more US military assets to Australia’, Stripes, June 20, 2014)

          “The US Defense Department and the Australian Defence Force are conducting a joint study into…. the feasibility of rotating an entire US aircraft carrier battle group to the port of Stirling near Perth… American long-range B-52 bombers now spend up to six months a year at airbases in Darwin and nearby Tindal…” (US military looks to expand use of Australian bases and ports, 16 February 2015)

          “there are indications that NATO will be much more active in Australia’s region than in the past. The Alliance will approve a new strategic concept later this year to guide NATO’s objectives, strategy, and force planning, which will clarify the role NATO may play in the Asia Pacific. The new concept will acknowledge that NATO remains, at its core, a transatlantic alliance.” [Dr Stephan Frühling and Dr Benjamin Schreer are Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University] (Australia and NATO: A deeper relationship?, LowyInterpreter, 11 October 2010) [Note: The Lowy Institute for International Policy was established by Frank Lowy and Martin Indyk, both of whom also established the Israeli Institute for National Strategy and Policy]

          “From Washington to Brussels to Canberra – the Pentagon, NATO and a rapidly evolving Asian NATO – the strategy like the terminology is identical: Interminable military deployments and combat operations in South and Central Asia as the model for new wars.” (NATO: Afghan War Model For Future 21st Century Operations, by Rick Rozoff, November 19, 2010)

          “None of this is about ‘protecting Australia’ from attack. The White Paper itself admits there is no conceivable threat against the Australian mainland in the next 20 years. The implausibility of the White Paper’s rhetoric about a long-term threat from China is demonstrated by the fact that the two agencies commissioned to write assessments of this threat rejected it out of hand. According to The Australian, the Defence Intelligence Organisation described China’s military build-up as a non-threatening ‘defensive’ response to American naval power in the Pacific and judged that Beijing did not have ‘hegemonic’ or ‘expansionist’ ambitions. Far from being concerned about its own defences, Australia has long been the dominant power in its immediate region, using its economic and military muscle to intimidate and coerce smaller neighbours to bend to its will. The government is now aiming to expand this influence further into Asia, and to establish Australia as a more significant military force on the world stage.” (Source: Australia’s White Paper for war, Corey Oakley, May 2009)

          Australia is increasingly hosting U.S. military forces (on a rotational/operational basis including nuclear capable assets) and its procurements are consistent with the policy of developing allied ‘force posture’/ ‘military projection capabilities’ (offensive military operations). It is incorporated into the developing Air Sea Battle concept plan (preparations for potential allied military conflict with the PRC). Australian actions reveal its policies are emboldened in the belief that the U.S./NATO bloc and its geographic isolation protect it from negative consequences (blowback) resulting from its actions/participation in allied operations. They also believe they are ‘punching above their weight’ and seek to enhance their (offensive) military projection capabilities as part of allied bloc operations. In the event of direct military conflict between blocs, it may be necessary to show the reality is otherwise.

          • Peter

            Thanks for putting this information up Veritas Vincit. Very little information in the media, alternative or otherwise on the situation in SCS/Asia Pacific region.