Created: 9/27/1983

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible



Military Developments in East Timor

Jakarta has m jot operation tominate all resistance by Fretilin guerrilias in East Timor following the breakdown ot a three-month ceasefire* As zianu as 0 Indonesian troops may be involved against an rmed guerrilias in the largest campaign since Despite the personal commitment of Indonesian Armed Forces Commander Murdani to the operation's success* in our judgment it is unlikely to enjoy better fortune than its predecessors before the onset of the rainy season in Moreover , as news of the operation becomes widespread in the foreign press* increased international criticism of Indonesia rs East Timor policy is likely. A side effect of the renewed fighting is the prospect of a cooling in Australian-Indonesian relations should the Rawke government accede to the demands of the Labor Party's left-wing for a touQher stand over the Bast Timor issue*


This memorandum was prepared by

Office Of East Asian Analysis". Information as ot

'21 September 3 was used in its preparation *

7 of 35



The current fighting follows the breakdownhree-month old de facto ceasefire that began in May when talks were held between the Fretilin leadership and government representatives. The talks, however, quicklytalemate when Fretilin presented the Indonesians with four unacceptable demands:

emoval of alt Indonesian troops from the province.

ppointment of East Timorese to leading provincial admi nistrative posit)ons.

opular referendum.

nternational supervision of the referendum.

Although lower level meetings were subsequently held between local authorities and guerrilla bands, discussions remained deadlocked.

Against this backdrop ABRI Commander Murdani infor Fretilin to surrender or face military aetion.

Initially Jakarta believed the attack was made byenegade guerrillas ond ordered the provincial commander to bring them to justice by the end of the month. Ensuing clashes, coupled with further defections of armed civilians,ore widespread insurgency. Small-scale engagements between guerrillas and government forces, usually in the form of attacks on military outposts, villages, or clashes betweenarked the level of fighting for the remainder of the month.

murdani was said to be outraged by ihe aufpfisfc fretilin attacks and ordered that they be answered with the strongest military

fretilin strength and operations

fretilin sympathizers in the villages not oplyand supplies to the guerrihas

fenable ine guerm jas to

is also carry out

propagandas among the villagers, remi ndi ng 1ocal officials of their timoreseage, andg upon them to join in the st ruggle to liberate their count ry. e civil defense personnel are also encouraged to defect.

fretilin combat operations are conducted in typical guerrilla fashion. forces operate in smal1 groups to provide greater freedom of action, concentrating when the opportunity presents itself to attack indonesian outposts, preferably at night or early morning. ambushes are established along critical government supply routes. civil defense postsarticular target for raids and sabot age,

The Current Picture

Current military operations in East Timor involveIndonesianhreefold increase fromersonnel. (Anento ba brought in

TTie Their secur development

1 ocal flrea

Turves have been established under Cortmand to conduct this operation, destroy the armed guerrillas, restore


authorities, and continue


of 14

In addition to the participating ground forces, elements of Indonesian Air Forceing readied for possible support Sept ember.f

1nternatlonal Impat Ions

The outbreak of hostilities willerious setback to Indonesian efforts to remove the issue of East Timor from international debate, coming aa It does on the heels of an Australian parliamentary delegation's recent visitulyugust) to the province, and shortly before the annual UN deliberations on the issue. Prior to the renewal of fighting, Jakarta hadajor lobbying campaign to gain sufficient support to defeat this year's resolution on East Timor In the UN General Assembly, and thereby eliminate It from future agendas. As recently as mid-September, prospects for success were promisingl

However, Jakarta now afrbears to have

reversed its position and has Joined Portugal in supporting a

.'See Appendix


m the General Assembly to postpone consideration of the resolution until the next session. We believe Jakarta is probably loath to take any chances on an assembly vote at the moment, and postponement will save Indonesia theote amidst accounts of increased fighting. I


of setbacks for its East Timor of September, including the adoption Indonesiaubcommission of the UN

isid on domestic coverage of the fighting and Foreign Minister Moehtar has denounced foreign wire service reportsarge military operation as unfounded

ns. carry reports

Nonetheless, the international press continues to of the fighting with varying degrees of accuracy. As the scope of the present military operations in the province becomes more fully known, we expect increased debate in international arenas, more criticism, and further political reversals for the Indonesians

Reports of fighting on the island have already undermined the moderate conclusions reached by the Australian parliamentary delegation In its recently released report.

Minister Hayden has expressed the government's concern over reportsilitary buildup on the Island and said that any resumption of hostilities wouldtep

backwardsasting peaceful settlement.

Impli cat ions

I campaign not theary*

has an important stake in the outcome of the only as ABRI Commander ultimately responsibleerformance, but also because he is the principal


authority for East Timor policy.

g in East Timor may be providing additionaln to Murdani's critics in the government who have been privately criticizing his role in the "mysterious shooting" campaign against suspected criminals.

Short Term Prospects

Barring the unlikely possibility of large-scale Fretilin defections to the governmentajor coup such as the capture of Fretilin leadership or the destruction of sizeable groups of guerrillas, wo believe that the current operation, after an initial flurry of activity, will gradually wind down by the beginning of the rainy season in December. However, unlike past operations, Murdani's commitment to the destruction of Fretilin, leads us toore vigorous effort then in the past, which could put considerable pressure on Fretilin to resume negotiations, if only toespite. Nonetheless, both sides

appear as uncompromising as ever. Although an embarrassment to Murdani, we do not believe the renewal of fighting, in itself, seriously threatens his position in the government.

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic: