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Indonesia welcomes capture of Saddam JAKARTA - Indonesia has welcomed news of Saddam Hussein's capture by US forces, saying his arrest should help Iraqis to govern their own nation. "The capture of Saddam Hussein is long overdue," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa was quoted as saying by Reuters. "It is our hope that his capture will help speed up the process of reconciliation and the transition toward a democratic government of Iraq, where sovereignty is restored in the hands of the Iraqi people," he added.
Some Islamic scholars interviewed on Indonesian television news shows also welcomed the capture of Saddam on Saturday (13/12/03), but questioned whether it would bring an end to the violence in Iraq. Syafii Maarif, chairman of the Muhammadiyah Muslim organization, on Monday told the detikcom online news portal the US should now allow the United Nations to take over the running of Iraq.
He said that although the UN may not always be effective in its foreign operations, its presence in Iraq would have greater international and domestic acceptance than the US-led administration. Maarif further said the US must ensure "the Iraqi people" are responsible for the trial of their former president. He predicted there would be a srong international backlash if Saddam is tried by the US.
Meanwhile, economists predicted the news of Saddam's capture would trigger a surge in world financial markets, including the Jakarta Stock Exchange. Indonesia was a staunch critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq in March, describing it as an illegal act of aggression. Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda last week launched a scathing attack on America’s occupation of Iraq, saying the campaign had increased support for terrorism and made the world a more dangerous place.
He pointed out that weapons of mass destruction, the excuse for the invasion, had still not been found. “If those weapons have not been found because they do not exist, then an entire country has been leveled to the ground for no good reason,” he told a regional security conference.
The minister said America’s use of “awesome firepower” had failed to wipe out resistance or remove threats to global security. “The situation in Iraq today shows that smart bombs and air cover cannot turn the tide of a war against terrorism.” He said winning the war against terrorism involves a struggle for people’s hearts and minds. “That struggle calls for wise policies, not smart bombs.”
Civilian casualties and even the deaths of combatants “create martyrs and make it so much easier for the terrorists to gather new recruits,” he added. Wirajuda argued that by acting unilaterally in waging "an arbitrary pre-emptive war," the US had set a precedent that other countries might follow. US Ambassador Ralph Boyce rejected Wirajuda's comment that "an entire country has been leveled to the ground", claiming that in no war in history had an army gone to greater lengths to avoid civilian casualties and destruction.


Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a strong supporter of the Iraq war, hailed the news of Saddam’s capture. “I’m delighted most of all for the Iraqi people because Saddam’s capture removes that haunting worry that he would come back,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Iraq has never really enjoyed full freedom and democracy and when you’ve had a dictator brutalizing and murdering a population over a 35 year period, until he is finally either killed or taken into captivity there was always the fear he would come back, even though his military had been defeated six or eight months earlier, there was always the worry that he could come back,” Howard told Channel Nine’s Today Show.
“I believe that this will lift an enormous psychological burden off the Iraqi people, there’ll be a great shadow of fear taken away from them and although I say that, I also caution against the belief that suddenly the fighting is going to stop and that suddenly there’ll be no more terrorist attacks, I think that’s unrealistic. But over time this is the signal most decisive thing that can begin to further improve the situation in Iraq and I know that the world will rejoice with the Iraqi people that this loathsome man has finally been captured,” he added.

Yesterday’s Hero?

Many Indonesian Muslims had viewed Saddam as a hero for his defiance against the US, even though they were critical of the atrocities committed by his regime. He was widely viewed as a symbol of resistance against oppression and the victim of an illegal war. T-shirts featuring his portrait were big sellers in many Indonesian cities earlier this year.
In April 2003, a legislator from President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Sabam Sirait, had proposed that a street in Jakarta be renamed after Saddam to commemorate “the heroic struggle of the Iraqi people”. In March 2003, People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Amien Rais urged the UN to bring US President George W. Bush and his allies before a war crimes tribunal for invading Iraq.
He demanded that Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair be tried in an international court "for their unjustified use of force against the people of Iraq". In May 2000, Saddam had asked Rais for Indonesia’s support in his struggle against America. Rais reportedly responded by telling Saddam the "Indonesian people" supported Iraq "in the struggle...against hegemony, foreign aggression and the intervention in Iraq's internal affairs".

Posted in General @ 15 December 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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