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Indonesia Says U.S. Policy in Iraq Becoming Debacle
Published on Monday, December 8, 2003 by Reuters
Indonesia Says U.S. Policy in Iraq Becoming Debacle
by Dan Eaton
 

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.


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
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.

"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 Hassan Wirajuda.

"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 and neighbors.

"If we can achieve that, we have largely insured that what happened in Iraq this year will never happen in Southeast Asia."

©2003 Reuters Ltd

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