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Indonesia: Domestic Politics, Strategic Dynamics, and American Interests

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Conference paper

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Indonesia is the worlds fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim nation. It is also a moderate Muslim state which is strategically positioned astride key sea lanes which link East Asia with the energy resources of the Middle East. Indonesia is also seen by many as an increasingly valuable partner in the war against radical Islamist militants in Southeast Asia. Jakarta is continuing to democratize and develop its civil society and rule of law under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who many view as effective and reform minded. However, a legacy of abuse of human rights by the military which stems from the era of former President Suharto remains unresolved. United States foreign policy concerns have focused on building relations with Indonesia to more effectively counter the rise of militant Islamist extremists as well as develop relations with a geopolitically important state through which strategic sea lanes link the Middle East and Northeast Asia. The United States has also sought to promote democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in Indonesia in addition to promoting American trade and investment interests there. This report surveys key aspects of Indonesia s domestic politics and strategic dynamics in addition to providing general background information on Indonesia. It also provides an overview of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Indonesia. The report examines issues of ongoing congressional interest, including Indonesia s role in the war against violent Islamist extremists, international military education and training IMET, human rights, religious freedom, promotion of democracy and good governance, trade, foreign assistance, and regional geopolitical and strategic interests. The report seeks to provide a broader context for understanding the complex interrelated nature of many of these issues, several of which are explored in greater detail in other CRS reports.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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