JAKARTA -- Indonesia, the world's most populous
Muslim nation, issued some of its harshest criticism of
Washington's Iraq policy on Monday, saying the U.S. occupation
had not met objectives and was becoming a debacle.
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda also said the war in Iraq
served as a wake-up call for Southeast Asia to get its own
house in order to prevent similar events in the region.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda (R), accompanied by his East Timor counterpart Jose Ramos Horta, speaks to journalists after a meeting in Jakarta, December 8, 2003. Wirajuda earlier in the day issued some of the harshest criticism of Washington's Iraq policy yet from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. He said the U.S. occupation had not met objectives and was becoming a debacle. REUTERS/Supri
"It is possible the forces of the old regime in Iraq, aided
by foreign fighters infiltrated into the country, will continue
to wage a prolonged guerrilla campaign," said Foreign Minister
"There is the dreadful prospect of the balkanization of
Iraq with boundaries drawn on ethnic and sectarian lines," he
also said in a speech to a security conference.
"The various rival factions in Iraq today could be sucked
by that power vacuum into a new and terrible round of
internecine violence -- a civil war."
He said that those developments would pose a threat to the
entire Middle East, and the situation had heightened the
grievances in the Muslim world and damaged the United Nations.
If the various trends continue, "that would make the war in
Iraq a debacle to the cause of security and peace."
The United States has tried hard to make strategically
located and 80-percent Muslim Indonesia an ally in Washington's
war on terrorism.
After a halting start, it has had some success in getting
the world's fourth most populous country on board in regional
efforts, but both the intervention in Afghanistan and the
invasion of Iraq has brought widespread Indonesian criticism.
Wirajuda's comments on Monday were some of the strongest
from the government since Baghdad fell to U.S.-led forces.
If weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq
"because they do not exist, then an entire country has been
leveled to the ground for no good reason," Wirajuda said.
Wirajuda said it was essential ASEAN -- the area covered by
the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations that
Indonesia now chairs -- becomes a region at peace with itself
"If we can achieve that, we have largely insured that what
happened in Iraq this year will never happen in Southeast
©2003 Reuters Ltd