Indonesia: January 14, 2005


  The government has backed off on its demand that American troops be gone from Aceh by March 26th, apparently after protests from government officials in Aceh. About a quarter of the Aceh population was killed, injured or made homeless by the earthquake and tidal waves and the situation is still pretty desperate. At the same time, separatist rebels have offered to take part in a new round of peace talks. The army and government workers were hit harder by the disaster than the rebels, who were largely up in the interior highlands. The army is particularly sensitive about losing control of things in Aceh, and sees the foreign aid groups, especially the Australian and American military units, as a threat to their control of the province. This is more emotional than real, but the fears are there.




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