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DRAFT ONLY

 

WORKING PAPER:

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ARMY

AND ISLAMIC GROUPS IN INDONESIA

Comparing the period of the transition to authoritarian rule in the 1950s and the transition to democracy in the 1990s

 

Philips Jusario Vermonte

 

Introduction

In his study of the electoral institutions and the struggle for democracy in Indonesia, Dwight King suggested that the outcome of the 1999 election, the first free election held after the fall of Suharto’s authoritarian regime, resembled the outcome of the 1955 election, the first free election in Indonesia’s history.[1] Similar to King’s assertion, Anies Baswedan concluded that in both elections approximately half of the Indonesian voters cast a ballot for Islamic parties. In the 1955 election, Islamic parties won 44% of the vote, while in 1999 Islam-friendly parties won 56% of the vote.[2] These studies suggest that despite various efforts made by Sukarno, with his Guided Democracy (1959-1965), and Suharto, with his New Order regime (1965-1998), to limit the role of political Islam, the religion remains a strong social and political force.

 

The two elections are important in the sense that they consolidated civilian politics and thus affected the place of the Indonesian armed forces within the country’s political system. In this regard, in his study about Indonesian politics between the period of December 1949 and March 1957, Herbert Feith made the following remarks:

 

“Was this, then, a period of constitutional democracy? I have argued that it was, in a particular sense…Civilians played a dominant role. Parties were of great importance. The contenders for power showed respect for ‘rules of the game’, which were closely related to the existing constitution. Most members of the political elite had some sort of commitment to symbols connected with institutional democracy. Civil liberties were rarely infringed. Finally, governments used coercion sparingly. This represented, at the very least, an attempt to maintain and develop constitutional democracy.”[3]

 

The 1955 election took place while Masyumi, an Islamic political party, was in power for a short period (August 1955 – March 1956). In the Masyumi cabinet, Islamic parties were strongly represented; three other major Islamic parties had delegates present.[4] This period of liberal and constitutional democracy ended in 1957 when martial law was imposed across the country, and President Sukarno subsequently introduced what he called “Guided Democracy”. From that point, Indonesia saw a transition from liberal democracy to authoritarianism. The transition gave way to the emergence of ‘a praetorian’ type of military intervention.[5]

 

During this period, the Indonesian armed forces under the leadership of General A.H. Nasution formulated the doctrine of dual function (Dwi Fungsi) that paved the way for the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), particularly the Army, intervention in the country’s politics. Guided Democracy ceased to exist in 1965 following the aborted coup of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which then elevated Suharto, an Army General, to power. Nevertheless, the Dwi Fungsi doctrine continued to be used to justify the pervasive involvement of the Army in the country’s politics. The doctrine was officially abandoned only in 1998.

 

Suharto’s New Order regime fell in May 1998. Triggered by the financial crisis which began in Thailand in 1997, the foundation of the New Order government eroded as the economy of the country, on which the military-backed New Order regime rested its legitimacy, collapsed. Since that time, Indonesia has undergone a difficult process of democratization. The transition to democracy has brought more freedom which enables the Indonesian people to assert their political aspirations.

 

Political expression from various groups, ranging from the moderate to the extreme forms, surfaced. In addition, political cries for self-determination intensified particularly in Aceh and Papua. Within the Indonesian society, various Islamic groups and paramilitaries emerged. Some of these organizations even stated their readiness to use force in advancing their aspirations. For example, Laskar Jihad and Islamic Defender Front (FPI) involved themselves in violent activities across the country. In this context Robert Hefner warns that civil society can be counter productive especially in a situation where it contains elements that are willing to take advantage of ethnic, religious or ideological tensions and willing to set aside the value of pluralism and common citizenship.[6]

 

This troublesome trend occurred at a time when the Indonesian armed forces were paralyzed and demoralized due to pressure from every corner of the Indonesian society demanding that they be held accountable for past human rights abuses. Interestingly, the Indonesian Armed Forces survived, partly because it has been able to construct a new partnership with various Islamic groups.

 

I investigate the relationships between the Indonesian army and the Islamic groups during the two transition periods, the transition to authoritarian rule in the late 1950s and the transition to democracy in the late 1990s. I assume that the relationship is influenced by the uncertainty that has surrounded the entire transition process. Subsequently, I try to identify factors and forms that define the relationships between the Army, as the holder of legitimate right to use force, and various Islamic groups that are part of the Indonesian society.

 

Military Intervention and Democratization: Theoretical Framework

This paper utilizes the framework found in the literature on military intervention in, and withdrawal from, politics. It must be noted that the nature of civil-military relations in Indonesia seems to be in agreement with Amos Permutter’s view that “modern military regimes are not purely military in composition. Instead, they are fusionist, that is, they are military-civilian regimes”.[7]

 

Military intervention usually marks the beginning of a transition to authoritarianism, while military withdrawal normally occurs during a transition to a democratic period. Indeed, any attempt to establish democratic civilian control over the military requires sufficient understanding of the reasons why military as an institution originally intervenes in politics. There are at least two factors that increase the likelihood of military intervention. The first is the external factor, which relates to the social and political environment in which the military operates. In many cases, the failure of a civilian regime provides both motive and opportunity for the military to become actively involved in politics. Secondly, internal factors, such as corporate or material interest of the military, the change of ideology in the military leadership, and internal division, also play a role.[8]

 

With regard to military intervention, the critical question becomes: in what modes does the intervention take place? Samuel E. Finer sets out six modes of intervention that include:

1.       Normal constitutional channels

2.       Collusion and competition with civilian authorities

3.       Intimidation of civilian authorities;

4.       Threats of non-cooperation with, or violence towards, civilian authorities;

5.       Failure to defend civilian authorities against violence; and

6.       Exercise of violence against civilian authorities.[9]

 

As far as the transition to democracy is concerned, the fall of an authoritarian regime does not automatically nor peacefully establish a new democratic regime. The fall of Suharto regime presents a case in point. Even though the new political stage has opened up hopes of a consolidated democracy, bloody communal conflicts have erupted in some part of Indonesia, such as in Maluku and Poso. By definition, transitional period always involves uncertainty and clashes of interests. Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe Schmitter suggest that a transition period might involve ‘the launching of the process of dissolution of an authoritarian regime, the installation of some form of democracy, the return to some form of authoritarian rule or the emergence of a revolutionary alternative’.[10]

 

The transition to democracy period is by nature full of negotiating activities, which is one of the factors causing states experiencing early phase of democratization to face high risk of communal conflicts.[11] Negotiations are certainly the most difficult part of the democratization process since those who are part of the ongoing authoritarian regime will resist political reform and will defend their interests. One form of resistance is that the security apparatus, which supported the old authoritarian regime, will try to maintain its privileges.[12]

 

The relationships between the TNI and Islamic groups: an historical sketch

The relationship between the TNI and Islamic groups needs to be placed in the larger context. It is part of the question of relations between the state and Islam in Indonesia that dates back to the revolutionary period of Indonesia’s history. During the colonial period, the Dutch naturally attempted to contain the emergence of pan-Islamic ideas that could pose a threat to the continuation of the Dutch colonial government. Snouck Hurgronje, the Counselor for Native Affairs to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Colonies recommended that his government, in order to prevent the emergence of Islamic solidarity and to form a counter force for Islamic ideas, provide Western education to the natives in Indies. If Western education were supplied, Snouck Hurgronje believed that:

 

“the Pan-Islamic idea, which has not yet taken a great hold on the native aristocracy of Java and the other islands, will lose all chance of existence within this milieu…If it then happens that a part of the millions of native Indonesians, whose daily labor as small peasants does not permit their spirits to rise above the level of their fields of rice, find themselves attacked by the epidemic of Pan-Islamism, their compatriots, who have become our associates and equals, will themselves have the greatest interest to ward of this menacing danger. In order to emancipate the other classes from the Islamic creed, it is only a question of time, without application of force, if we know how to enlarge liberally our political and national frontiers…”[13]

 

 

Benedict Anderson in his influential Imagined Communities disregards the role of religion (i.e. Islam) in the emergence of nationalism in Indonesia. Religious pilgrimages made by Indonesians to Mecca and other Islamic sites were conspicuously absent in Anderson’s explanation of the emergence of nationalism in Indonesia. This is perhaps caused by his conviction that the importance of the sacred community of religion was declining in the modern world.[14]

 

Indeed, the role of Islam in the formation of Indonesia’s nationalism has been the subject of various scholarly works. George Kahin observed that Islam remained a strong background for Indonesia’s early nationalist movement. The first powerful Indonesian nationalist movement, according to Kahin, was an organization called Sarekat Islam, which was ‘nationalistic, anti-imperialist and socialist-inclined’ in its orientation.[15]

 

Michael Francis Laffan acknowledges the importance of Islam in the struggle for independence. Laffan investigated how the network of Indonesians residing in Mecca and Cairo in the 1900s influenced the growing nationalist movement in Java and at one point enabled an eclectic assortment of communist, nationalist, and reformist to meet. This included an Islamic activist named Chasbullah, who just returned from his study in Mecca, along with Agus Salim, Ki Hadjar Dewantoro, Hendrik Sneevliet, Alimin, the young Soekarno and Tjokroaminoto who later formed Sarekat Islam’.[16] Later, Sarekat Islam sponsored the first Al-Islam Congress during which representatives from various Islamic organizations, including Muhammadiyah, al-Irsyad, Jamiyat Khair, were present.[17] In 1937, the Congress agreed to establish the Supreme Indonesian Council of Islam (M.I.A.I – Madjlisul Islamil a’laa Indonesia).[18]

 

Another Islamic organization that also needs to be mentioned is Jong Islamieten Bond (JIB – Young Muslim Society), founded in 1925 in Java, which later became the training ground for the would-be leaders of Masyumi, an influential Islamic political party in the 1950s.[19] Through these examples, it is evident that the Dutch colonial government did not succeed in containing the spread of nationalism which was blended with the growing assertiveness of the Islamic groups in the colony.

 

During World War II, unlike the Dutch, the Japanese treated Islam differently. The Japanese used Islam to penetrate into the spiritual life of the Indonesian society. The Japanese set up the Masjumi – Madjlis Sjuro Muslimin Indonesia (Consultative Council of Indonesian Muslims) and Hizbullah (God’s Forces), a paramilitary organization for Muslim youth. Masjumi was meant as a replacement for M.I.A.I and was not intended to ‘strengthen the unity of all Islamic organizations’, but to ‘aid Dai Nippon in the interest of Greater East Asia’.[20]

 

Meanwhile, Hizbullah became a sort of military wing for Masjumi. The leadership of Hizbullah was decided by Masjumi, and organizations that were the members of Masjumi provided personnel to Hizbullah. It is important to note that many members of Hizbullah were later incorporated into the Indonesian Army shortly after Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945.[21] While contributing to Hizbullah, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization, also provided leadership to another paramilitary group called Sabilillah.[22]

 

This background suggests that from its beginning, a significant number of personnel of the Army came from the Muslims organizations that were part of Masjumi. However, the majority of the army officers was understandably Javanese and came from abangan background.[23] It thus greatly influenced the secular ethos of the army that did not share the ideals of santri.[24] Later, Masjumi was transformed into a political party. During their congress in November 1945, three months after Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesia’s independence, the leaders of Masyumi decided to form an Islamic political party bearing the same name. The Masjumi party was meant to be the only political party that represented Muslims’ voice.[25]

 

Masyumi was not the only organization that owned a military wing. Aside from the Japanese-trained military organization such as Hizbullah, many youth organizations also had their own laskar (paramilitary) forces.[26] These laskars were formed by organizations with different background, which included Islam, nationalist or communist.

 

The Army and Islamic groups in the transition era of the 1950s

Shortly after its independence in 1945, Indonesia faced a difficult task of establishing a solid Army. The Army’s lack of cohesiveness derived from the fact that the laskars had ‘extramilitary political loyalties and soldiers often had a stronger sense of commitment to their unit commander than to the army as a whole’.[27] In addition, most of these militias and guerilla organizations were region-based. For the new Republic, establishing a unitary command for these organizations was a daunting task. For example, a battalion of Hizbullah in West Java remained an independent group. On August 7, 1949, this Hizbullah regiment, under the leadership of Kartosuwiryo, proclaimed the Negara Islam Indonesia or Darul Islam, with its own army called Tentara Islam Indonesia (Islamic Army of Indonesia).[28]

 

Kartosuwiryo decided to declare the establishment of NII/TII after the government of the Republic, under Renville Agreement of January 1948, agreed to give up the West Java territory to the Dutch, in exchange the Dutch would formally recognize Indonesia’s independence. Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam saw the agreement as a treachery of Indonesia’s revolution and decided to continue fighting.[29]           

 

When Indonesia fully gained its independence in 1949, Darul Islam denied the existence of the central government and became an Islamic rebellion. In 1952 and 1958, other rebel groups in Sulawesi joined Darul Islam. The 1950s and 1960s were probably the most tumultuous period for relations between the Indonesian Army and Islamic groups. Indeed, Indonesia’s political situation during the period of parliamentary democracy in 1950s was marked with uncertainty. From December 1949 to March 1957, seven successive administrations came to power.[30] At the same time, armed rebellions took place in various part of the country. The Darul Islam rebellion in West Java encouraged, and was also reinforced by, rebellions in other regions that declared themselves part of Kartosuwirjo’s Darul Islam movement. For example, Darul Islam-affiliated rebellions occurred in Central Java led by Amir Fatah, in South Sulawesi led by Kahar Muzakkar, and the rebellion in South Kalimantan (Borneo).[31] In 1962, Kartosuwiryo was finally captured and the Army crushed the Darul Islam rebellions.[32]

 

Darul Islam rebellions in these regions also marked the beginning of increasing involvement of the Indonesian Army in politics. These Islamic rebellions occurred at about the same period as other rebellions[33] which made the Indonesian Armed Forces, particularly the Army, fully aware of national politics.[34] They also made the Army suspicious toward Muslim society. The relationship deteriorated when some leaders of Masyumi were implicated in the 1958 rebellion of the PRRI (Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia – Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia) that took place in Sumatra. The rebellion did not last long, and Sukarno disbanded Masyumi in 1960. Masyumi had been very critical of Sukarno’s Guided Democracy rhetoric; therefore, the involvement of three high-ranking officials of Masyumi in the PRRI affair provided an opportunity for Sukarno to take stern action against it.[35]

 

In fact, a closer look at the PRRI rebellion would suggest that it was largely driven by serious internal rift within the Army and not by any Islamic movement. Moreover, it was not an Islamic rebellion since many of the military leaders of PRRI were in fact Christians.[36] In this regard, Daniel Lev stated the following:

 

“Commanders of military district in Sumatera and Sulawesi were at the head of regional protest movements against the central government’s economic policies and what they labeled Javanese domination of the archipelago. Huntington’s comment that a military involved in politics reflects political divisions seems very relevant here, all the more so because the Indonesian army’s territorial organization, consisting of largely autonomous divisions most of whose troops came from the areas in which they served, encouraged a political identification under stress between soldiers and civilians of the same ethnic group”.[37]

 

 

The PRRI rebellion hurt Masyumi in particular and political Islam in general. At that time, the Indonesian parliament had been in a stalemate for months. The cause was a heated debate over the draft of a new constitution. The issue was the proposal from Masyumi and other Muslim parties to insert ‘the seven words of the Djakarta Charter’ that would make Indonesian Muslims subject to Sharia law.[38]

 

The nationalist groups within the Indonesian parliament[39] coalesced and refused to attend sessions of the parliament. This act simply made it impossible for the parliament to achieve necessary quorum. A deadlock was the inevitable consequence. With strong support from the Army, President Sukarno decided to intervene on July 5th 1959 “by means of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, with regard to the Return to the Constitution of 1945”.[40] The decree marked the beginning of the era of Guided Democracy. Sukarno restored the presidential system as stipulated by the 1945 Constitution. The decree meant that the parliamentary system in which he played a symbolic role was abandoned.

 

 

The Army and Islamic groups in the transition era of the 1990s

This section focuses on the relationship between the Army and political Islamic groups during the transition to democracy period. However, it also touches the period of the last years of Suharto’s presidency when Suharto had tried to cultivate support from the Muslim community. Marcus Mietzner asserts that an analysis of the complex relationship between the Army and Islam needs to be placed in light of the fact that ‘up until his final moments in office, Suharto tried to manipulate the military and the Muslim groups to stay in power’.[41]

 

During the period of transition to democracy, an old question of how to define the relationship between the state and Islam, which constitute the religion of the majority of the Indonesian population, re-emerged. During the previous ten years of the New Order regime, Suharto tended to be more sympathetic to Islam. For example, Suharto gave a green light for the establishment of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), which then became very influential in the country’s political dynamic.[42] Chaired by B.J Habibie, who then became the successor of Suharto in 1998, ICMI was an important focal point of the Indonesian Muslims political activism in the 1990s. A noted Indonesian scholar made the following observation on ICMI:

 

“Many of its members became members of parliament and some became cabinet ministers. A daily newspaper, Republika, was founded, an Islamic bank, Bank Muamalat, was established, and CIDES, a Muslim body for intellectuals and academicians, started to operate. Very quickly, this middle class Muslim organization has taken over the dynamic of the Islamic movement in Indonesia”.[43]

 

 

In its early years, the military-backed New Order regime curtailed the political role of the Islamic groups. Thus, Suharto’s reconciliatory policy toward Islam in the 1990s was seen by many as an attempt on his part to establish a new power base since he could no longer rely on support from the TNI.[44] Michael Vatikiotis notes that the relationship between Suharto and the TNI started to deteriorate in the late 1980s when the younger officers within TNI begun to question the role of the TNI in politics.[45] Some pointed to the role of General Beni Moerdani, a Roman Catholic, in Suharto’s growing distrust from many in the TNI.[46]

 

Nevertheless, Salim Said argues that Suharto had never lost control over the Indonesian military and in fact his control reached its peak in the 1990s.[47] One reason is that Suharto was then successful in removing General Beni Moerdani from his post as the commander-in-chief of the TNI and even placed his preferred generals in many important positions within the TNI, especially within the Army. Suharto replaced Moerdani’s loyalists and appointed generals with strong Islamic background to top positions. General Try Sutrisno, who has madrasah[48] background and also former adjutant of Suharto, took over the leadership of the TNI from General Moerdani in 1988. General Sutrisno’s leadership of TNI was considered a transition period in the context of the relationship between the armed forces and Islam in Indonesia. It was during General Try Sutrisno’s leadership that many officers with strong Islamic background reached top positions within the Army, including Feisal Tanjung and R. Hartono.[49]

 

In 1993, General Feisal Tanjung became the commander of TNI, and in 1995 Suharto appointed General Hartono army chief of staff. Tanjung and Hartono both have strong Islamic background.[50] Certainly, Suharto’s control over the military remained strong as suggested by his ability to dictate the appointments of generals in the TNI.

 

The appointment of the General Tanjung and General Hartono who come from devout Muslim families created a fissure within the TNI, one between nationalist-secular officers and officers with strong Islamic background. The nationalist-secular officers are often referred to as the red-and-white, the color of the country’s national flag, camp; while the Islamist officers are frequently called the green camp.[51] The red-and-white camp was usually associated with General Beni Moerdani, while the green camp was associated with ICMI and Habibie.

 

Under the leadership of Generals Tanjung and Hartono, the TNI saw the meteoric rise of Suharto’s son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto who was appointed commander of Kopassus (the Army Special Forces) at a very young age by Army standards. He was later appointed commander of Kostrad (the Army Strategic Reserve). Among officers within the green camp, Major General Prabowo Subianto was the one who strongly expressed his association with various Islamic groups within Indonesian society.

 

Major General Prabowo Subianto was closely associated with an organization called KISDI (Indonesian Committee for Solidarity of the Islamic World). When the military launched a brutal attack on Megawati Sukarnoputri’s supporter at PDI-P’s headquarter in 1996, KISDI and another Islamic organization called Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia – Indonesian Islamic Faith-Strengthening Board (DDII) backed the military view on the attack. KISDI and DDII accused those who protested of supporting the revival of communism.[52] During the severe economic crisis in 1997, KISDI launched a fierce propaganda campaign, spreading pamphlets that stated that the nationalists and non-Muslims, particularly the Chinese and Catholics, were conspiring against Suharto.[53]

 

After Suharto’s resignation in May 1998, KISDI supported the new Habibie government. KISDI was behind the mobilization of tens of thousand of rural youth to Jakarta during the People’s Assembly (MPR) session in November 1998. These Muslim youths were pitted against anti-Habibie and anti-military demonstrators during the MPR session.[54]

 

The Army also cultivated support from other Islamic organizations that have the capacity to mobilize supporters. General Wiranto, the former Commander of TNI, and Lieut. General Djadja Suparman, the former commander of Kostrad, were reported to have very close contact with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). During the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad birth in 2001, the leader of FPI Habibi Rizieq told the press about the presence of General Wiranto in that event: ‘since the time that he had only one star, then two, then three, then four and was then dismissed [by President Abdurrahman Wahid], he has always attended this meeting”.[55]

 

The Front was founded in 1998 by Habib Muhammad Rizieq in Jakarta with a prime mission to carry out anti-vice campaigns.[56] FPI raided discotheques, bars, night-clubs and other entertainment centers. It also has been very active in demanding the restoration of the Jakarta Charter to implement the Sharia law. Like many other Islamic organizations, FPI supported the Habibie presidency and campaign against the possibility of electing a woman president, a campaign that apparently was directed against Megawati Sukarnoputri.[57]

 

The sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians which occurred few months after the fall of Suharto seems to confirm Alfred Stepan’s observation that during a transition period the security apparatus will try to resist reform and try to remain in power.[58] In his study of the sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians in Maluku that started a few months after the fall of Suharto, Najib Azca concluded that the tension between then President Abdurrahman Wahid, who attempted to radically reform the TNI, and General Wiranto, the Commander of the TNI at that time, prevented the Army from acting decisively to end the bloody conflict. President Wahid’s attempt to remove General Wiranto from his position and promote pro-reform generals to fill in top positions in the Army was met with fierce resistance from many senior Army officers.[59]

 

Laskar Jihad (LJ), a Java-based radical Islamic group, was heavily involved in the religious conflict in Maluku. LJ was in fact a military wing of an informal network of salafi teachers called Forum Komunikasi Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah (FKASWJ) led by Ja’far Umar Thalib. LJ was established in January 2000, one year after the religious conflict begun in Ambon.

 

Before the establishment of LJ, FKASWJ held a series of rallies in Java that were intended to voice ‘salafi interpretation’ of political developments in Indonesia. In a rally that was held in February 1999, a month after the conflict in Ambon broke out, FKASWJ released a political statement that contained seven points:

 

“(1) do not be swayed by the terror tactics of Islam’s enemies or the tyranny of a minority trying to foment rebellion; (2) fight any effort to undermine the unity of the Indonesian state and people; (3) support in full the legally constituted government; (4) obey a government led by a devout Muslim man, in accordance with the decision of the second Congress of the Indonesian Ummat, 3-7 November 1998, that it was impermissible under the Islamic law for a woman to be president; (5) be prepared to make war against any government headed by a non-Muslim, unless by doing so they would cause greater harm to the ummat; (6) support the order of the Commander of the Armed Forces to shoot demonstrators on sight, because according to Islam, the government has the right to take firm action against anyone who threatens the security of the state; and (7) do not place high hopes in elections, because democracy was a disaster being imposed on Muslim countries.[60]

 

From this statement, several things can be derived. First, FKASWJ urged Indonesian Muslims to defend President Habibie, himself a devout Muslim, against groups that rejected his presidency. Second, these rallies were held only few months before the 1999 election took place. PDI-P, the secular-nationalist party led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, was predicted to win the election. Thus, this political statement can be seen as an attempt to prevent Megawati from winning the election. In the larger context, it can also be interpreted as the re-emergence of the old conflict between Islamic and nationalist-secular groups.

 

Third, which is relevant to the discussion of this paper, the statement represented the fact that FKASWJ saw the TNI as a partner in maintaining the country’s unity. It is clear that the statement also addressed the conflict in Maluku. FKASWJ believed that the root cause of the conflict in Maluku was that the Christians attempted to erect an independent Christian state in Maluku by reviving the Southern Maluku Republic (RMS) separatist movement. FKASWJ then formed LJ, which in mid-2000 sent thousands of fighters to Maluku.

 

Laskar Jihad frequently stated that the purpose of their presence in Maluku was to defend the national unity and territorial integrity of Indonesia. The leader of Laskar Jihad Ja’far Umar Thalib made the following statement:

 

“We, Muslims, always defend the unity of Indonesia. You should remember that in the 1950s when our government bowed to the Dutch and gave up the West Java territory, Muslims rejected it and we fought to defend the territory.”[61]

 

 

There is evidence that suggests LJ enjoyed backing from elements within the military and the police. LJ provided military training for their fighters in a camp near Jakarta before sending them to Maluku. In fact, President Abdurrahman Wahid ordered the Army and the Police to close down the camp and to prevent the LJ fighters from entering Maluku. But LJ managed to send thousands of fighters to Maluku starting in April 2000.[62]

 

Ja’far Umar Thalib once acknowledged that he had a hotline to the commander of TNI and other leaders of LJ admitted that some army officers assisted them in providing military training to the Muslim fighters.[63] However, LJ later denied any accusation about their link with the the army. For example, Ja’far Umar Thalib stated:

 

“In Ambon, we were attacked by them [TNI] many times. The army brutally attacked our base camp and even destroyed a health center that we built. We fought them back. They also detained me. If they support us, how could those things happen?”[64]

 

As mentioned earlier, the TNI and the police did not execute the order of President Abdurrahman Wahid to prevent Laskar Jihad fighters from going to Maluku. As a result, thousands of LJ members were able to embark on commercial ships from ports in the East Java province. The commander of the TNI’s Territorial Command in East Java province, Lieut. Gen Sudi Silalahi[65] did not stop the LJ fighters when they departed from ports in the province. Commenting on this fact, General Wiranto, who was just removed from his position as Minister of Defense by President Abdurrahman Wahid not long before LJ begun to send fighters, made the following statement:

 

“I was no longer the Commander of TNI and not the Minister of Defense when LJ started to send fighters from ports in East Java. But from various reports I was able to gather, they [LJ fighters] got on board the ship just like other passengers, they paid for the tickets and had no weapons. Why should the TNI prevent Indonesian citizens from traveling?”[66]

 

TNI spokesman at that time Air Rear-Admiral Graito Usodo admitted that ‘there are some troops roaming around and creating chaos outside the chain of command and some even joined the Laskar Jihad warriors”.[67]

 

Clearly, Indonesian politics during the transition period affected the cohesiveness of the TNI. The two facts, the TNI disobeyed President Abdurrahman Wahid and the troops in the field were acting out of the chain of command, indicated that politics during the transition period affected the behavior of the TNI.

 

Conclusion

The paper has elaborated the dynamic relationship between the Army and the Islamic groups. It shows that the political environment in which both actors operate always influences the dynamic. In the 1950s, the bankruptcy of liberal civilian politics that was caused by the uncertainty about the future of an Indonesian secular state made the Army suspicious toward Islamic groups. Various Islamic rebellions also exacerbated the bad relationship between the two.

 

In the 1990s, uncertainty about the future of the unitary state and about the future of its dominant role in a democratized Indonesia made the Army seek support from Islamic groups. In the 1950s, due to the dynamic within the Indonesian parliament and several Islam-influenced rebellions, the Islamic groups were perceived by the Army as a source of threat to the country’s unity and to its corporate interests. In comparison, in the transition to democracy in the 1990s, the Islamic groups provided support for continued dominance of the Army in politics.

 

The largest Islamic political party in the 1950s, Masyumi, and other Islamic parties had been critical toward the tendency of authoritarianism of Sukarno who was supported by the Army. They were then implicated in a rebel movement. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, Islamic groups supported the Army and the outgoing New Order authoritarian regime. In the case of Laskar Jihad discussed earlier in this paper, the Islamic group used the rhetoric of maintaining Indonesia’s sovereignty, normally used by the Army, when it waged a jihad war against Christians in Maluku. Laskar Jihad accused the Christians of trying to revive the old Southern Maluku Republic (RMS) separatist movement. Also, political contestations that occurred during the transition to democracy affected the coherence and decisiveness of the Army. As a result, the Army sought new alliances not in the usual state structure, but in the society.

 

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Bourchier, D and Legge, J.(eds.), Democracy in Indonesia: 1950s and 1990s (Melbourne: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994).

 

C. van Dijk, Rebellion under the banner of Islam: the Darul Islam in Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981).

 

Damien Kingsbury, The politics of Indonesia (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2005).

 

Daniel S. Lev, “The political role of the army in Indonesia”, Pacific Affairs, vol. 36/4 (1963).

 

___________, The road to Guided Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966).

 

Dwight King, Half-hearted reform: electoral institutions and the struggle for democracy in Indonesia (Westport: Praeger Publisher, 2003).

 

Geoff Forrester (ed), Post Suharto Indonesia: renewal or chaos? (Singapore: ISEAS, 1999).

 

George McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and revolution in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961).

 

Greg Fealy, “Inside Laskar Jihad”, Inside Indonesia (January-March 2001),

 

Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe Schmitter, ‘Tentative conclusion about uncertain democracies, Part. IV of Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter, and Lawrence Whitehead (eds.), Transition form authoritarian rule: prospect for democracy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986).

 

Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter, and Lawrence Whitehead (eds.), Transition form authoritarian rule: prospect for democracy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986).

 

Harold Crouch, The army and politics in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978).

 

Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962).

 

International Crisis Group (ICG), Indonesia: violence and radical Muslims – Indonesia Briefing (Jakarta/Brussels, 10 October 2001).

 

____________________________, Indonesia: the Search for Peace in Maluku – Asia Report no.31 (Jakarta/Brussels, February 2002).

 

___________________________, Indonesia backgrounder: why salafism and terrorism mostly don’t mix – Asia Report no.83 (13 September 2004).

 

Jack Snyder, From voting to violence: democratization and nationalist conflict (New York: W.W Norton Company, 2000).

 

James J. Fox, Currents in contemporary Islam in Indonesia, paper originally presented at “Harvard Asia Vision 21 Conference”, 29 April – 1 May 2004.

 

Jinsok Jun, “The civil military relationship and monitoring of the security and intelligence community in Korea”, Pacific Focus, vol. 12/2 (Fall 1997).

 

John Bresnan (ed.), Indonesia: the great transformation (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher Inc., 2005).

 

Karel Steenbrink, Dutch colonialism and Indonesian Islam: contacts and conflicts 1596-1950 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993).

 

Marcus Mietzner, “Godly men in green”, Inside Indonesia (January-March 1998).

 

______________, “From Suharto to Habibie: the Indonesian armed forces and political Islam during the transition” in Geoff Forrester (ed), Post Suharto Indonesia: renewal or chaos? (Singapore: ISEAS, 1999).

 

Michael Davis, “Laskar Jihad and the political position of conservative Islam in Indonesia”, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.24/1 (April 2002)

 

Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic nationhood and colonial Indonesia (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003).

 

Michael R.J. Vatikiotis, Indonesian politics under Suharto: the rise and fall of the New Order (London: Routledge, 1998).

 

M. Najib Azca, Why soldier shift to be militia?: the backdrop of partisanship of the security forces in the religious communal conflict in Ambon, paper presented at “the Southeast Asia Conflict Study Network (SEACSN) Conference 2004: issues and challenges for peace and conflict resolution in Southeast Asia”, Penang Malaysia, 12-15 January 2005.

 

Robert Hefner, “Social legacies and possible futures” in John Bresnan (ed.), Indonesia: the great transformation (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher Inc., 2005).

 

_____________, “Islam, state and civil society: ICMI and the struggle for the Indonesian middle class, Indonesia no.56 (Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 1993).

 

Safrul Muluk, The Indonesian army and political Islam: a political encounter 1966-1977 (Master thesis, Institute of Islamic Studies – McGill University Montreal, 2000)

 

Salim Said, “Suharto’s armed forces: building a power base in New Order Indonesia: 1966-1998”, Asian Survey, vol. 38/6 (June 1998).

 

Samuel E. Finer, The man on horseback: the role of the military in politics (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002).



[1] Dwight King, Half-hearted reform: electoral institutions and the struggle for democracy in Indonesia (Westport: Praeger Publisher, 2003), pp. 121-140.

[2] He applied two conceptions of ‘Islamic party’: for the 1955 election, the term is strictly used for parties with Islamic platform, while in 1999 the term was used for parties that (i) had Islamic platform; (ii) portrayed themselves as inclusive parties, such as PKB of Abdurrahman Wahid and PAN of Amien Rais; (iii) although secular in their appearance, remained inclusive and were largely run by Muslim activists, such as Golkar. See Anies Baswedan, “Political Islam in Indonesia: present and future trajectory”, Asian Survey, vol. 44/5 (2004), p.681.

[3] Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962), p. xi.

[4] Ibid, p.419.

[5] Samuel Huntington defines ‘praetorianism’ as a situation in which ‘the guard places himself on the seat of the guarded’. Cited in Bilveer Singh, Civil-military relations: theory, practice and extrapolations for the Southeast Asian region, paper presented at the International Conference on Soldiers in Business: Military as an Economic Factor”, Jakarta, 17-19 October 2000.

[6] Robert Hefner, “Social Legacies and Possible futures” in John Bresnan (ed), Indonesia: the great transformation (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher Inc., 2005), p.121.

[7] Amos Perlmutter, Political roles and military rules (London: Cass, 1980), p. 238.

[8] Jinsok Jun, “The civil military relationship and monitoring of the security and intelligence community in Korea”, Pacific Focus, Vol. XII/2 (Fall 1997), pp. 93-94.

[9] Detailed elaboration may be found at Samuel E. Finer, The man on horseback: the role of the military in politics (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002), p. 140.

[10] Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe Schmitter, “Tentative conclusion about uncertain democracies, Part. IV., in Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter, and Lawrence Whitehead (eds.), Transition from authoritarian rule: prospect for democracy (Baltimore; John Hopkins University Press, 1986), p.6.

[11] Jack Snyder, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict (New York: W.W Norton and Company, 2000),

[12] The other forms are (1) the power holders of the outgoing authoritarian regime attempts to check the liberalization process; (2) the power holders of the outgoing authoritarian regime ‘may seek to reconstruct the formal and informal rules that secured some of their main interests in the previous regime’. See Alfred Stepan, “Paths towards democratization; theoretical and comparative considerations, part III” in Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter and Lawrence Whitehead (eds.), Transition from authoritarian rule: prospect for democracy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986), p.72.

[13] Cited in George McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and revolution in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961), p.48.

[14] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991).

[15] George McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and revolution in Indonesia, p.48.

[16] Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic nationhood and colonial Indonesia (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003), pp.226-227. Sneevliet and Alimin were known to be influential in the establishment of the Indonesian Communist Party in the late 1920s.

[17] Ibid, p. 212.

[18] B.J. Boland, The struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia (the Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), pp. 10-11. There is a slightly different version regarding the name of the council in Laffan’s book. According to Laffan, the Congress resulted in the establishment of Majlis al-Islam Hindia (the Islamic Council of the Indies), See Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic nationhood and colonial Indonesia, p.212.

[19] Karel Steenbrink, Dutch colonialism and Indonesian Islam: contacts and conflicts 1596-1950 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993), p. 112.

[20] B.J. Boland, The struggle of Islam in modern Indonesia, pp. 10 – 11.

[21] Ibid, pp. 12-13.

[22] Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia, p.233.

[23] Safrul Muluk, The Indonesian army and political Islam: a political encounter 1966-1977 (Master thesis, Institute of Islamic Studies – McGill University Montreal, 2000), p.19.

[24] Clifford Geertz identified two large groups of Muslims in Java: santri, which refers to pious Muslims and abangan, which refers to minimalist Muslims whose adherence to Islam is influenced by non-Islamic beliefs and practice. See Clifford Geertz, The religion of Java (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1960).

[25] A. Syafii Maarif, Islam dan politik di Indonesia pada masa demokrasi terpimpin (1959-1965) – Islam and politics in Indonesia during the Guided Democracy period (Yogyakarta: UIN Sunan Kalijaga Press, 1988), pp.30-31.

[26] Harold Crouch, The army and politics in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), p. 29.

[27] Harold Crouch, The army and politics in Indonesia, p.27.

[28] Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia, p. 54.

[29] Damien Kingsbury, The politics of Indonesia (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 208-209.

[30] See Herbert Feith, The decline of constitutional democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962).

[31] See C. Van Dijk, Rebellion under the banner of Islam: the Darul Islam in Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981).

[32] Ibid.

[33] There were communist rebellion in Madiun, East Java (1948); the RMS-Republic of South Maluku (1950), the PRRI rebellion in Sumatera and Sulawesi (from 1958-1961).

[34] Daniel S. Lev, “The political role of the army in Indonesia”, Pacific Affairs, vol.36/4 (1963), p.349.

[35] see Daniel S. Lev, The road to Guided Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966), p.185.

[36] Safrul Muluk, The Indonesian army and political Islam: a political encounter 1966-1977, p. 37-38.

[37] Daniel Lev, The political role of the Army in Indonesia, p. 350.

[38] The same debate occurred prior to the proclamation of Indonesia’s independence in 1945. At that time, the Islamic groups were persuaded to exclude the Djakarta Charter from the preamble of the 1945 Constitution. See B.J. Boland, The struggle of Islam in modern Indonesia, pp. 90-98.

[39] The coalition included the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and some of non-Islamic parties.

[40] B.J. Boland, The struggle of Islam in modern Indonesia, p. 100.

[41] Marcus Mietzner, “From Suharto to Habibie: the Indonesian armed forces and political Islam during the transition”, in Geoff Forrester (ed), Post-Suharto Indonesia: renewal or chaos? (Singapore: ISEAS, 1999), p.66.

[42] Robert Hefner’s “Islam, State and Civil Society: ICMI and the Struggle for the Indonesian Middle Class” in Indonesia no.56 (1993: Cornell Southeast Asia Program).

[43] Arief Budiman, “From Lower to Middle Class: Political Activities before and after 1988, in Bourchier, D.; Legge, J. (Eds.) Democracy in Indonesia 1950s and 1990s (Melbourne: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994), p. 232.

[44] See for example Damien Kingsbury, The politics of Indonesia (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 12.

[45] Michael R.J. Vatikiotis, Indonesian politics under Suharto: the rise and fall of the New Order (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 82.

[46] Suharto saw Moerdani, once a commander of the TNI, as a threat as Moerdani was able to build an independent power base within the TNI. At one point, Moerdani, a long time Suharto’s confidant, was even advising Suharto that the businesses of his children had become uncontrollable. This fact has been considered critical in the changing relationship between the TNI and Suharto. See Adam Schwarz, A Nation in Waiting (St. Leonard: Allen & Unwin, 1996), also see Salim Said, “Suharto’s Armed Forces: Building a Power Base in New Order Indonesia, 1966-1998”, Asian Survey, vol.38/6 (June 1998), p. 540.

[47] Salim Said, “Suharto’s Armed Forces”.

[48] Islamic boarding school.

[49] Marcus Mietzner, “Godly men in green”, Inside Indonesia (January-March, 1998), available at http://www.insideindonesia.org , accessed on September 12, 2006.

[50] Ibid, pp. 544-545.

[51] Marcus Mietzner, “From Suharto to Habibie: the Indonesian armed forces and political Islam during the transition”, in Geoff Forrester (ed), Post-Suharto Indonesia: renewal or chaos? (Singapore: ISEAS, 1999), pp. 65-102.

[52] International Crisis Group (ICG), Indonesia: violence and radical Muslims – Indonesia Briefing (Jakarta/Brussels, 10 October 2001), p. 12.

[53] Marcus Mietzner, “From Suharto to Habibie: the Indonesian armed forces and political Islam during the transition”, p. 69.

[54] ICG, Indonesia: violence and radical Muslims, p.12.

[55] “Kita tetap tegas, tolak presiden perempuan – We are firm, we never accept a woman president”, Tempo daily, 23 June 2001, cited in ICG, Indonesia: violence and radical Muslims, p. 13.

[56] James J. Fox, Currents in contemporary Islam in Indonesia, paper originally presented at “Harvard Asia Vision 21 Conference”, 29 April – 1 May 2004, p. 15.

[57] Ibid, p. 15.

[58] See footnote no.7 of this paper.

[59] M. Najib Azca, Why soldier shift to be militia?: the backdrop of partisanship of the security forces in the religious communal conflict in Ambon, paper presented at “the Southeast Asia Conflict Study Network (SEACSN) Conference 2004: issues and challenges for peace and conflict resolution in Southeast Asia”, Penang Malaysia, 12-15 January 2004, p. 11.

[60] Quoted in International Crisis Group (ICG), Indonesia backgrounder: why salafism and terrorism mostly don’t mix” – Asia Report No. 83, p. 15.

[61]The author’s interview with Ja’far Umar Thalib in Yogyakarta, August 10, 2006.

[62] International Crisis Group (ICG), Indonesia: the Search for Peace in Maluku – Asia Report no.31 (Jakarta/Brussels, February 2002).

[63] Greg Fealy, “Inside Laskar Jihad”, Inside Indonesia(January-March 2001), available at http://www.insideindonesia.org , accessed on October 11, 2006.

[64] The author’s interview with Ja’far Umar Thalib in Yogyakarta, August 10, 2006.

[65] Lieut. Gen Sudi Silalahi was known to be close to General Wiranto.

[66] The author’s interview with General Wiranto in Jakarta, August 12, 2006.

[67] Statement reported by the Jakarta Post, 1 March 2001, cited in Michael Davis, Laskar Jihad and the political position of conservative Islam in Indonesia, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.24/1 (April 2002), footnote no.37.