Indonesia’s Chief of Defence Force Calls for Greater Regional Cooperation Against IS

Indonesia’s chief of defence forces General Moeldoko has called for greater regional cooperation in the global fight against the Islamic State (IS) threat.

He spoke in Singapore on Wednesday (Oct 29), at a lecture organised by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. These were his first public comments in Singapore since the appointment of Indonesia’s new President, Joko Widodo.

In a lecture titled TNI Future Challenges and Opportunities, the General sketched out the broad challenges for the Indonesian armed forces and the importance of regional cooperation. A key focus was the IS threat and the danger it may pose in the future to this part of the world.

“There have been several people from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join IS. We need to find a common understanding among the ASEAN Chief of Defence Forces, to anticipate the future risk, when these fighters return to their home countries. We need to think of concrete steps to deal with this threat,” he said.

The General said it is hard to predict the strategy of IS militants and this is why it is critical for regional forces to come together, consider future scenarios and come up with action plans.

To this end, he said he intends to propose a meeting of regional defence chiefs to discuss the IS threat, at the ASEAN Chief of Defence Forces informal meeting to be held in Malaysia next year. Indonesia hosted a similar meeting earlier this year for military and peacekeeping personnel from 33 countries, at its Peace and Security Centre in Sentul, West Java.

General Moeldoko emphasised in his lecture that the IS ideology does not represent Islam: “I am a Muslim and I can tell you that IS does not represent the Islam that I know. There will be no chance for IS to spread in Indonesia.”

He also touched on President Widodo’s vision of making Indonesia a global maritime axis. He said Indonesia plays an important role in maritime security and stressed the need to enhance regional cooperation, to protect the lucrative trade route along the Straits of Malacca.

The lecture was followed by a 30-minute closed-door question-and-answer session involving more than 100 people. Issues raised included Indonesia’s relations with a rising China, as well as territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the impact on regional security.


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