Indonesia: threats and challenges to domestic security

Ethnic conflict Counter-terrorism Terrorism National security Indonesia

Indonesia’s demographics, its colonial past and its sprawling archipelagic territory present the government with a unique combination of internal security challenges. This paper looks at four of those challenges and how they might affect Indonesian internal security in the future. Terrorism and extremism are two closely-related threats that the Indonesian Government must tackle carefully. Sectarian groups in key strategic provinces continue to challenge the government and may reignite separatist movements in the future. Underlying tensions in relations with some ethnic and religious groups could also threaten to erupt into violence. Finally, Indonesia’s archipelagic geography and close proximity to key global shipping routes have proven to be problematic when it comes to addressing the issue of piracy.

Key points:

  • The frequency of terrorist incidents has reached a plateau, but the growing influence of extremism will prove to be difficult to manage.
  • Separatism, especially in West Papua, could prove to be a major security hurdle in the longer term, especially if backed by international support.
  • Ethnic and religious tensions have been a significant concern in the past, but the Indonesian Government today is better equipped to deal with large-scale violence.
  • Indonesia remains a piracy hotspot and the continued complacency of local governments will make it difficult to manage.
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