NEWS DEVELOPMENTS: Indonesian Agreement, Pakistani General

July 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

INDONESIA: Forgive and Forget?

Defense Dept. photo by Cherie Cullen

The U.S. military is ending a decade-old ban on dealings with a special forces unit of the Indonesian military that has been linked to killing civilians and other human rights abuses. The move, which sparked sharp protests from international human rights groups, appears to be an attempt to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to the island nation – the world’s largest Muslim majority country – announced July 23 that the U.S. would resume ties with Kopassus, an elite special forces unit accused of kidnappings and assassinations of activists and demonstrators during the oppressive Suharto regime, which fell in 1998.

While the U.S. has resumed ties with most of the Indonesian military in 2005, and the two nations signed a defense framework agreement in June, Kopassus has been blacklisted, by Congress and the U.S. State Department. Gates and other Pentagon officials said the unit had made numerous reforms but the reconciliation doesn’t signal an end to U.S. commitment to human rights and accountability. Kopassus is seen an influential arm of the military. Many top Indonesian officers have come from the unit.

But human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International decried the policy change. Analysts said the move is seen as a hedge against China’s influence in the region, according to the Washington Post and Bloomberg. Indonesian officials hinted that Kopassus “might explore building ties with the Chinese military if the ban remained,” the New York Times reported.

PAKISTAN: Army Chief’s Term Extended

Pakistani Army Web site

Pakistan’s government has extended the term of the Army’s top general for another three years to continue the fight against terrorism and militant fundamentalists, according to to news reports from Islamabad, the nation’s capital.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was due to retire in November, but in a move supported by the U.S. and NATO commanders, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced his retention as head of the country’s military establishment.

Kayani, 58, who has headed the Army since 2007, has led campaigns against the Taliban and has been responsible — behind the scenes — for permitting CIA drones  to attack al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He’s also helped ensure transit on the supply route that runs across Pakistan to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times says.

Despite all that, the Pakistani PM says the government was not under any pressure to keep Kayani on for three more years, the newspaper Dawn reported.

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Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Special Operations. Tags: , , , , , , , .

AFGHANISTAN: Who Do You Trust? FRIDAY FOTO (July 23, 2010)

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