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President Obama Mulling an End to Ban on Indonesian Military Aid

Members of the Obama Administration are reportedly considering ending a ban on assisting an elite unit of the Indonesian military. The unit, known as Kopassus (short for Indonesian Komando Pasukan Khusus), has been denied American military assistance for 12 years due to criminal convictions of beatings and killings associated with their members. The Bush administration, due to increased cooperation between the two countries on Islamic terrorism, attempted to remove the ban in 2008, but were prevented by the State Department. However, the rise of Chinese influence in Southeast Asia has President Obama reaching out in an effort to counter China’s rise.

Unnamed officials at the Indonesian Embassy predict that cooperation will resume. The ban was pursuant to the Leahy Law, passed in 1997, that prevented military assistance to governments with a record of human rights abuses unless those governments were attempting to correct the past abuses. While geo-strategic think tanks generally approve of the plan as a measure to a new Asian defense strategy, human rights groups feel that Indonesia has not prosecuted former Kopassus members enough.

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