Obama’s Objective In Muslim Indonesia

Muslim Barry Soetoro

Indonesia will now have to wait till June to host US President Barack Obama. The US leader was earlier scheduled to visit Indonesia on March 23. The country holds a great significance for Obama, as it is the place where he spent four years of his child life.

Albeit now scheduled for June, yet the trip will bring into limelight Obama’s multicultural upbringing, his early exposure to Islam and his lasting family ties with Indonesia.

In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zeenews.com, Pankaj Kumar Jha, a strategic analyst, discusses the objective of Obama’s trip to Indonesia and its effect on the Muslim world.

Pankaj Kumar Jha is Associate Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

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Kamna: What is the objective of Barack Obama’s Indonesia trip?

Jha: This trip of Barack Obama is to rekindle his early childhood memories as well as reformat the relationship with Indonesia. This visit is being regarded as ‘pulang kampong’, which in Bahasa (language) Indonesia means ‘returning home’ for Obama, who would be highly nostalgic. Indonesia, a rather nascent democracy, is seeking investments and military assistance from the United States. Obama’s visit to Indonesia would be aimed at gaining leverages with its partner country by offering few incentives and concessions. This includes training facilities to the Indonesian Army’s young officers, and also education and scholarships to young Indonesian professionals and students.

Indonesia would be seeking US assistance with regard to rehabilitation and reconstruction within its Aceh autonomous province, as well as comprehensive partnership agreement on a number of issues. Indonesia would welcome any initiative by Obama to undo the damage done in the civil society with regard to (George W) Bush administration’s Global War on Terror (GWOT) initiative. Obama might launch the peaceful and harmonious world initiative in Indonesia, so as to gain the goodwill of the Muslim nations in the region.

He might also underline the administrative compulsions and outline US strategy with regard to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq. This would be particularly aimed at placating the Muslims masses. He would find it very hard to control the pockets of anguish about the US policy with regard to Israel, which had been found wanting at many instances in West Asia. This visit to Indonesia is aimed at rebuilding partnership between the two nations. The US needs Indonesia, the fourth largest populous nation, for securing its interests in Southeast Asia as well as for creating a safety net for securing its military supplies vital for its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.



~ by ladysforest on March 24, 2010.

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