For the first time since June, a Snowden revelation could have serious life and death consequences.
Not widely reported in the United States, a November article by The Guardian‘s Ewen MacAskill revealed that in 2009 Australia’s NSA counterpart, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), eavesdropped on the cellphone of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as his wife Ani.
The timing of the article couldn’t have been worse. Australia and Indonesia have been struggling to curtail what’s known as “people smuggling,” a refugee crisis in which people from the Middle East and South Asia have been using Indonesia as a launching-off point for harrowing journeys across the Banda and Timor Seas to seek asylum in Australia.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott was elected last year on a platform that included a promise to crack down on the people-smuggling issue. Meanwhile, Indonesia had been working with Australia to intercept the boats and turn them back to Indonesia.
As a consequence of the MacAskill/Snowden news, however, National Police Chief General Sutarman announced that Indonesia would no longer help Australia turn the boats around, further exacerbating a seriously low ebb in diplomatic relations between the two nations.
It gets worst.
Late last week, as part of Australia’s now unilateral struggle to turn around the refugee boats and tow them back, several Australian Navy vessel sailed into Indonesian waters, a move which Australia claimed was an accident. Accident or not, this move prompted Indonesia to ramp up its military presence, deploying its Navy and concentrating Air Force radar to monitor the waters along the nation’s border.
According to The Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s deployment includes: “frigates, fast torpedo craft (KCT), fast missile craft (KCR) and corvettes as well as maritime patrol aircraft.” The Indonesian Air Force’s 11th squadron could also be deployed against Australia if another incursion takes place, accidental or otherwise. The 11th squadron includes “16 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers.”
One official said that a maritime clash between the two nations was “imminent”… [CONTINUE READING HERE]