August 14, 2005


After tsunami, a peace deal: Indonesian officials sit down with Aceh rebels to sign a peace accord Monday. (Simon Montlake, 8/15/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Efforts to end one of Asia's longest-running conflicts will reach an important pass Monday when Indonesia is due to sign a far-reaching peace accord in Helsinki with Acehnese rebel leaders.

If the peace holds, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono can lay to rest a conflict that has disrupted the northern tip of Sumatra island since 1976, claiming over 12,000 lives and traumatizing an entire generation of men and women. The accord could pave the way for Indonesia to calm other restive areas, most notably Papua, where separatist sentiment runs high. It could also provide pointers for other Asian countries, such as the Philippines, in how to untangle seemingly intractable separatist rebellions over long-standing grievances.

"If we can deal with Aceh, it means that autonomy could work in Indonesia without splitting the country apart. It's an important lesson," says Umar Juoro, a political scientist at the Center for International Development Studies in Jakarta.

One of the reasons that trying to maintain a single Iraq is so silly is because the global-historical trend runs in exactly the opposite direction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 14, 2005 2:42 PM
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