Australian troops giving tsunami aid will not be armed — and have been warned to get out fast before they pollute Islamic Aceh. “Downer: We won’t arm Diggers,” from News.com.au, with thanks to the Informed Christian:
ARMING Australian troops helping with the tsunami relief effort in Indonesia could increase the risk of rebel attacks on them, the Foreign Minister said today.
Following warnings to the Australian contingent from Islamic hardline groups in Indonesia, Alexander Downer said arming foreign troops would put them at greater risk from insurgents.
“If you send arms in there, it’s much more likely that this would arouse significant opposition from the Free Aceh movement and you could find yourself, ironically, with armed troops more likely to be in some kind of a military confrontation than with unarmed troops,” he said today.
“The point we want to make is that the Australian defence force personnel are not there for military reasons, they’re there for humanitarian reasons.”…
Habib Rizieq Shihab, head of the Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI), said yesterday Australian assistance in Aceh could herald the start of an East Timor-style intervention designed to secure independence for the troubled northern province.
Mr Shihab told The Australian he feared the presence of hundreds of Australian troops in Aceh would corrupt the province’s strict Islamic culture.
Mr Shihab accused Canberra of using the excuse of humanitarian assistance to support a long-term strategy of undermining Indonesian sovereignty.
Australia’s strategy in Indonesia was best seen by its role in helping East Timor gain independence, he said.
“We need to be vigilant. We do not want a second East Timor.”
He said thousands of his supporters were already in Aceh monitoring the behaviour of foreign troops, including Australians.
“Please Australia, move your feet from Indonesia as soon as your humanitarian work is done,” he said. “They should not corrupt Islamic sharia law in force in Aceh, because we know that these foreign soldiers like to bring prostitutes with them. Also, these soldiers drink alcohol and in Aceh it is strictly forbidden.”