Indonesia: Distractions Bring Peace


September 29, 2005: Religious and separatist unrest have been beneath fears of higher fuel prices, and the spread of bird influenza. Fuel is heavily subsidized, costing consumers less than a dollar a gallon, and the government cannot afford it with oil prices more than double what they were a few years ago. The bird influenza is hitting more and more people, with nearly a hundred cases so far. If it mutates into a more easily transmittable form, the death toll could be in the hundreds of thousands. Islamic terrorism, however, has not been affected by fuel prices or flu fears. While the government has been successful tracking down Islamic terrorists, they still have a big problem with the popularity of Islamic radicals among a large minority of the population.

September 23, 2005: Another 600 troops left Aceh, as the province remained quiet as the peace deal with separatists was carried out.

September 22, 2005: Courts convicted and sentenced (to ten years) the last of three terrorists accused to bombing the Australian embassy last year. While the police have been quick to find Islamic terrorists after an attack, there is less enthusiasm for rounding them up before an attack. The terrorists still command an advantage in the media, and in public opinion. Only dead Indonesians, in the wake of a terror attack, changes that. The rest of the time, the police have to deal carefully with a public that considers many Islamic radicals folk heroes.




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