Indonesia’s stature rises: Anticipated security pact with Australia underscores how much ties have warmed. (Tom McCawley, 1/17/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

A security pact expected to be signed this year between Indonesia and Australia will mark a formal end to a six-year rift over violence in East Timor and signals just how far the world’s most populous Muslim nation has come in relations with its southern neighbor as well as the United States. […]

In both Indonesia and Pakistan, the US now enjoys friendly ties to presidents seen as sympathetic to US interests. Both Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan support a moderate Islam and are seen as bulwarks against violent fringe groups. Together, they preside over about 356 million Muslims, about a quarter of the Islamic world.

Geography alone makes Pakistan’s stability and ability to remain a partner in the long term less certain, but Indonesia could evolve into a normal democratic ally fairly quickly.

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