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Australia to send troops to East Timor again

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posted on May, 24 2006 @ 01:45 AM
Australian troops are on the verge of heading into Dili again for a "police Action" due to a near civil war.

Gunshots have already begun and this looks like the beginning of another long term committment by Australian troops for regional security.
Hope this doesn't leave us spreading our troops to widely around the globe in case they are needed back home in a hurry.

posted on May, 25 2006 @ 02:53 AM
Just to update this thread, the Australian Government has agreed to send a force of approximately 1300 soldiers, as well as naval ships and air force planes to Dili. The decision followed an official request for assistance by the Government of East Timor in halting violence caused by rioting ex-soldiers. An advance force of 150 elite commandos has already arrived in Dili, charged with securing the international airport.

For our foreign cousins, a little background: East Timor obtained its independence from Indonesia in 2002 following 27 years of occupation and oppression. Independence was obtained only after an international peace-keeping force, led by Australia and New Zealand, arrived to repel attacks by Jakarta-sponsored militants. This intervention led to a radical decline in relations between Australia and Indonesia.

The tiny nation has an army of approximately 1300 men, 600 of whom were recently dismissed for desertion. These disgruntled ex-soldiers took to the streets and violence ensued. The nascent Government lacks the ability to restore peace on its own and has asked for regional assitance. Australia will provide the bulk of the troops, with contributions also being made by New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia.

There has been some debate in the Australian media as to the decision to commit more troops to a regional peace-keeping effort. Australian troops are also serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Solomon Islands. However, I personally feel that it is important to support East Timor's Government in maintaining order. On a purely humanitarian level, it is the right thing to do. On a more political level, it forestalls the descent of East Timor into a failed state, which would only worsen regional security concerns for Australia, especially if Indonesia felt the need to try and reclaim the fledgling state as part of Indonesia.

As for concerns that the deployment will spread Australian troops too thinly should they be needed quickly, I do not feel that this exercise presents any issue in that regard. East Timor is not far from Australia, so a recall of troops would not be overly difficult. Also, there has been much discussion in the media of the consequences of spreading ourselves too thinly should something happen in our back yard. Well to that I say, something has happened in our back yard. Now we have to deal with it. The only real threat to Australia's regional security comes from Indonesia, who is far more likely to become a thorn in Australia's side if East Timor descends into chaos.

There has also been ongoing debate concerning Prime Minister John Howard's increasing willingness to throw his weight around and involve Australia in regional security operations. I personally feel that this action is justified. Australia is surrounded by struggling countries who could use our help. We have a responsibility to help them. If this means becoming the police force for the South Pacific, then so be it.

Australians Head for East Timor - BBC

Foreign Troops Head Toward Troubled East Timor - Reuters

150 Aussie Commandos Arrive in Dili - The Age

[edit on 25/5/06 by Jeremiah25]

posted on May, 25 2006 @ 02:59 AM
I support our troops and believe that it is in Australia's best interests to support East Timor and contribute to regional stability.

Good Luck and God speed.

posted on May, 25 2006 @ 06:23 AM

Reports now indicate that at least some of the violence wracking Dili has stopped following the arrival of 150 Australian commandos. The warship HMAS Adelaide is apparently already in Dili harbour, with 200 troops aboard.

I am interested to hear the responses of our other Australian members to these developments. Whilst a relatively minor event in the broader scope of world politics, the situation in East Timor is significant to Australia's national security. I am eager to hear what other Australians, or any other members for that matter, have to say regarding this matter.

Forei gn Troops Land in East Timor - Swiss Info

East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has now stated that the unrest stems from a failed coup, saying that

In the past I have called the violence an attempt at a constitutional coup d'etat. Today it is clear that there was a real effort to launch an outright coup against the government

Source - SMH

Furthermore, whilst United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has given his stamp of approval for the intercession of Australian troops, Australian leaders have been unable to contact PM Alkatiri or President Xanana Gusmao, whose signatures are needed for the delpoyment of Australia's contingent of 1300 soldiers onto East Timorese soil. Despite this, Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has given the order to go ahead with the deployment of troops, saying

There have been some dreadful incidents occur and no person should under any circumstances accept that we should now just stand back and wait until we have more documentation which I believe we don't necessarily need

Source - SMH

Good to see that red tape isn't hindering the deployment of badly needed peace-keepers.

[edit on 25/5/06 by Jeremiah25]

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