Indonesia: Despair in East Timor


August 10, 2007: In East Timor, a week of political violence has left over a hundred buildings burned down, and over new 4,000 refugees. For the UN and peacekeepers from Australia and New Zealand, East Timor has turned into a bottomless pit for resources. The current generation of East Timorese voters and politicians seem incapable of establishing and running a government. It may take a generation or more to change that. In contrast, Indonesia has spent the last decade building its economy and calmly dealing with democracy and Islamic terrorism. The endless violence and economic stagnation in East Timor has made Indonesians less unhappy with losing control of that half of the island. Indonesia had nothing but trouble with East Timor after the grabbed control of it when Portugal abandoned its colony in the 1970s.

August 7, 2007: In East Timor, there were widespread outbreaks of rioting and violence, as partisans of the Fretilin party protested their loss of control of the government. Fretilin candidates won only a third of the seats in parliament in the recent elections. Fretilin was the party representing the independence movement, that led to expulsion of Indonesian troops and the founding of East Timor five years ago. But East Timorese were fed up with the corruption and incompetence of Fretilin officials, and voted against them. But Fretilin still has its partisans, and East Timorese, in general, are not inclined to take political defeats calmly.

August 6, 2007: The U.S. and Indonesian navies undertook a week of joint exercises. These were heavy on humanitarian, peacekeeping and anti-piracy operations. The U.S. Navy made itself very popular in Indonesia two years ago when its ships, helicopters, sailors and relief supplies showed up promptly and in large quantities, in the wake of a massive earthquake and tidal wave.


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