USA Will Continue Restricting Arms Trade With Indonesia
The U.S. Congress has voted to maintain restrictions on U.S. military aid to Indonesia, in an effort to force the country to take further steps to improve its army’s respect for human rights. The House of Representatives was willing to remove the restrictions, but the Senate was not, and the Senate’s view prevailed when members of the two bodies met to negotiate a compromise.
The decision ran counter to a request from the Bush administration to eliminate the restrictions, complicates the Indonesian military’s efforts to modernize, and blunts a campaign that has been underway since 2001 to lift the restrictions.
While progress has been acknowledged, the thrust of the congressional requirements is for Indonesia to  prosecute soldiers who committed human rights violations in East Timor in 1999,  cooperate with international investigations of what happened in East Timor, and  improve civilian control of the military. A requirement for help in the global war on terrorism inserted last year has been dropped, as improvement has been seen in that area. Indonesia is a significant base of operations for al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia.
Until the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to confirm to Congress that the conditions have been met. Until then, Indonesia can only buy “non-lethal” military equipment from the United States. The law does give the secretary of state the option of waiving the conditions if she asserts that U.S. national security interests are at stake, but such waivers would be likely to become a political issue.