In international relations, the core principle of diplomacy is the national interest. Every grouping, deal and relation is influenced by the interest of the respective countries. So, countries with limited capabilities try to make strategic co-operations according to their long-term interest.
In uncertain global politics, where grouping and regrouping have become a new phenomenon, South-East Asian countries in recent times have shown great interest in strategic cooperation with the world powers. Traditionally focused on economic and developmental cooperation partnerships, these countries have started to form defence relationships with powerful countries.
Indonesia to buy BrahMos Missile from India
According to the recently published report in the Financial Express, after securing the BrahMos export deals with the Philippines, India is in talks with Indonesia for the export of shore-based anti-ship variants of the BrahMos cruise missile.
Citing the sources, the Financial Express reported that the deal could have been signed earlier, but due to some internal matters in that country, the deal is expected to be sealed by this year or early next year.
It is pertinent to note that during the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in January 2018, the ASEAN nations approached India for the BrahMos and Akash Missiles. Progressing in this direction, many ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia have approached India for the imports of fighter jets, radars, missile systems and other military hardware.
Considering the growing assertiveness of China in the South China Sea and the reluctance of the US in ensuring the security of the region, ASEAN countries are trying to strengthen their defence capabilities to safeguard their sovereignty. In this scenario, India, the world’s biggest democracy, has emerged as an alternate strategic partner for ASEAN countries.
Indonesia’s strategic cooperation with India
With about 17,504 islands, Indonesia is the world’s largest island country by area. A large number of islands impose huge security responsibilities on the Indonesian government.
As China claims about 80% of the maritime area of the South China Sea, the North Natuna Islands falling in the area are also claimed by China. But, according to Indonesia, the regions extending north of the Natuna island fall under its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is rightfully recognized by the UNCLOS as Indonesian waters. The constant claim of China has downgraded the relationship of Indonesia with the Paper-Dragon and as the assertiveness of China is growing, the relationships are further going to deteriorate.
In this conflicting environment, it becomes very imperative for Indonesia to arm its military with state-of-the-art weapon systems and BrahMos, the world’s fastest cruise missile, provides a deterrent against any aggression.
Another reason, which forces Indonesia towards India is the palm oil export. Earlier this year, the country banned the export of palm oil to other countries starting April 28 and the ban was lifted again on May 23. This non-uniform policy of Indonesia has negatively impacted the cooking oil prices in India. In the past few months, the prices of cooking oil have increased by 50-70% from the pre-Covid levels.
In this scenario, Malaysia, by June 2021, replaced Indonesia as the top palm oil supplier to India and imports from Indonesia fell by 32% on a year-on-year basis. Due to a fall in international demand, the domestic palm farmers of Indonesia suffered huge losses and now Indonesia has once again removed the palm oil export levy until August 31.
As India started to diversify its palm oil imports, Indonesia being the largest producer and exporter was negatively impacted. If this continues for long, Indonesian farmers are going to suffer a lot.
So prevailing security situations with China and the economics of palm oil have forced Indonesia to increase its strategic cooperation with India. Partnering with India, the global power in both economy and military will prove to be a great asset for Indonesia’s national interest. In this environment, Indonesia is trying to form a strategic alliance with India by securing the BrahMos cruise missile system.
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