Friday, January 31, 2014

Australia Vs. Indonesia Approaches A Flashpoint

    Friday, January 31, 2014   No comments

It’s not just China and Japan bumping heads over sea borders in Asia, there are signs that a showdown is looming between two countries with a normally friendly relationship: Indonesia and Australia.

For major powers outside the region, such as the U.S., there is nothing to be gained by becoming involved in a situation which has its roots in the cross-border movement of asylum seekers from troubled parts of the Middle East and Africa, or illegal immigrants as they have also been called.

Fence Sitting Not Always An Option

However, sitting on the fence might not be an option for outsiders if the current war of words between Jakarta and Canberra heats up and patrol boats from both countries which are operating in the Timor Sea and Indian Ocean come face-to-face.

An extreme example of third parties being forced to choose a side in a territorial dispute was the brief war between Argentina and Britain in the early 1980s when both sides appealed to their friends with the U.S. forced to choose its NATO ally, Britain – but only after weeks of agonizing.

Indonesia v Australia has not reached that point, but there is a history of hostility that goes back to a hot war in Borneo in the 1960s and when Australia had troops on the ground in East Timor after it won independence from Indonesia.

Australian Snooping Upset Indonesia

Relations between the two near-neighbors worsened in November when leaks from runaway former CIA analysts, Edward Snowden, revealed Australian spying on the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and, worse still, his wife.


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