Since September 11 and the declaration of ‘war’ on terrorism, some governments have recast internal political power struggles or separatist conﬂicts as terrorist threats. This has provided a convenient cover for the arrest and detention of political opponents, as well as the unrestrained use of force to overpower secessionist challenges. Southeast Asia, in general, has followed this trend, as exempliﬁed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s move against the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s US-aided military operation against Abu Sayyaf, one of Mindanao’s Muslim separatist groups.
Indonesia: Going it Alone
Indonesia found itself in a particularly vulnerable position after last year’s Al Qaeda attacks. The world’s largest Muslim country, some have accused it of harbouring terrorist sympathisers. With several separatist movements and a military suspected of human rights abuses, it has had to tread a narrow line. Typically for a non-aligned nation, it has chosen to go it alone.