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Aceh is a country on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Nanggröe Aceh Darussalam. Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin. Aceh has a history of political independence and fierce resistance to control by outsiders, including the former Dutch colonists and the Indonesian government. Aceh finally gained independence from Indonesia after the Indonesian Civil War.
Aceh has substantial natural resources, including oil and gas - some estimates put Aceh gas reserves as being the largest in the world. Relative to neighboring Indonesia, it is a religiously conservative area.
2000's and Current Situation
After several more governments in South East Asia have been formed (e.g. Thailand, Brunei/Borneo and the allied Extremist government in Malaysia) having been overthrown in 1999, Sultan di Tiro has softened his course and allowed an Indonesian party to be founded. Economic troubles and shortage of food are unfortunately still quite common in Aceh thanks to the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and increased political instability in the region.
Even political elections - though being not much more than a façade - have been held in 2006 in order to have the sanctions being lifted and to reach the goal of nearly all nation-like bodies- to be admitted membership in the League of Nations to be founded in 2008.
Currently the Sovereignty of Aceh is internationally accepted, even by the I.I.I.L. But the territorial claims of the Indonesian provinces are heavily criticized and the ANZC, SAC and most other countries have decided to keep Aceh out of the League of Nations until the territorial dispute has been solved - at least by a mutual agreement of I.I.I.L and Aceh.
Negotiations began in 2007 (based in Singapore) but prove difficult and complicated. They have been interrupted at least four times until now.
The Sultanate of Aceh's internationally accepted territory is the old Indonesian province of the same name. Additionally it claims the Indonesian provinces of North and West Sumatra, Riau and the neighbouring islands. For further details please look at the map on the right.
The official Acehnese flag is the GAM flag that has been used since the organization's foundation. It reminds heavily the Turkish flag, based on red and wearing the Islamic symbols of moonsickle and star in white in the flag's center. Two black stripes are distinguishing element of the Acehnese flag.
Ethnic and Cultural groups
Aceh is a diverse region occupied by several ethnic and language groups. The major surviving ethnic groups are the Acehnese (who are distributed throughout Aceh), Gayo (in central and eastern part), Alas (in southeastern), Tamiang (in Aceh Tamiang), Aneuk Jamee (concentrated in southern and southwestern), Kluet (in South Aceh), and Simeulue (on Simeulue Island). There is also a significant population of Chinese, who are influential in the business and financial communities.
The Acehnese language is widely spoken within the Acehnese population. Before DD - Indonesian was the main and official language. In the aftermath of Doomsday and the takeover of the Sultan's government Acehnese was elevated to the principal language. Today, most governmental and administrative institutions use exclusively Acehnese. Schools, newspapers and the 2006- founded National TV channel mainly are published in Acehnese too.
The discrimination of the Indonesian language has led to both intense internal resistance and rising political tensions with the neigbouring Indonesian Islamic Islands League.
Beside the two main languages today significant numbers of speakers of Arabic, Turkish and Indian can be found it Aceh, mainly due to refugees.
The Sultanate of Aceh is formally an Islamic inheritable kingdom with few tribal elements. effectively the Sultan, currently Hosein di Tiro, rules nearly absolutist with unifying governmental and military command.
He has appointed a cabinet to take care of different sectors with him being the head of armed forces, government, foreign ministry and highest instance in questions of law. A "Imam council" regulates the religious affairs in Aceh and the judiciary system based on strict enforcement of the Islamic Shariah.
Along with the ongoing repressions against ethnic Indonesians, the Shariah system - and problems like female discrimination- represents the main obstacle of the Sultanate's way into the League of Nations.
Centralizing tendencies of the government of Indonesian dictator Suharto led Hasan di Tiro, a descendant of the last sultan of Aceh, to form the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on 4 December 1976 and formally declare Acehnese independence. The main perceived threats were to Acehnese religion and culture from the "neo-colonial" government and the rising numbers of Javanese migrants. The uneven distribution of income from Aceh's substantial natural resources was another point of contention. Despite these problems GAM is believed to have widespread support among the Acehnese people, although government-controlled election results indicate otherwise.
At first the guerrilla war of GAM was almost entirely unsuccessful, and the government appeared to have entirely neutralised the group by 1977. Hasan di Tiro even had to flee to Sweden in 1979.
The group was able to renew its activities in the years 1981 and 1982, apparently with financial support from Libya and Iran, fielding around 3500 soldiers. Although it initially failed to gain widespread support, the GAM's actions led the Indonesian government to resond militarily and with harsh and repressive measures, which aided GAM by alienating the civilian population.
At the time of DD the GAM once more seemed to be on the retreat and nearly defeated by the Indonesian army. Although Indonesia was - like most of Southeast Asia - not hit directly by any nuclear missiles on September 26th, the consecutive loss of international support, widespread famine plunged the country into chaos.
Aftermath and Restructuring
Famine and diseases took their death toll, also in Aceh. An estimated 750.000 people died in Aceh in the first month after DD, mainly due to lack of food and the reigning anarchy with Indonesian military not able to reinstate public order. Several Indonesian regions were shaken by separatist uprisings which forced the central government to withdraw the bulk of his army from the outer regions back to Java and Southern Sumatra to at least keep order in the economical and political heart of the Archipelago. At first caught by surprise by the sudden retreat, GAM then-in-command Hosein di Tiro, a cousin of the exiled Hasan di Tiro, quickly regrouped the loyal GAM units (supposedly around .000 men) and led them to the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, where they started to fight for control of the city. After a few months of de facto civil war, GAM gained control over the city and quickly gathered support - and more soldiers - among the Acehnese. In October 1985, they re-established a Sultanate Government - headed by then-monarch Hosein di Tiro- maintaining order on harsh enforcement of the Islamic law, the Sharia'h.
While the Acahnese supported the GAM, the Indonesian minority suffered heavily from persecution and repression. Most ethnic Indonesians fled Aceh south to still government-controlled South Sumatra.
The following years are dominated by a increasing stability and a strict course towards - OTL - Islamism.
The relative stability encouraged Sultan di Tiro in expanding the Aceh territory behind the traditional borders. Having assured the assistance of a fragile Islamic Extremist government in Malaysia by 1992, he proclaimed the whole Island of Sumatra as Acehnese territory and let his troops head south.
At approximately reaching the middle of the Sumatra Island, he was surprised by the attack of a contingent of Indonesian soldiers which have been sent by the I.I.I.L. government (in Yogyakarta) to halt the invasion. Defectors have spread the word to the Indonesians. An intense and fiercely battle erupted with the 8000 GAM troops being successfully halted, though not defeated by the I.I.I.L. army. Effectively reaching a stalemate after about two weeks, the Aceh troops retreated to a position near the city of Padang and declared a ceasefire.
After light skirmishes following and the Sultan seeing any try to advance would be infertile this demarcation line was declared provisional border both by I.I.I.L. and Aceh.
As a consequence of the course of the Sultan an underground movement started - with discrete I.I.I.L. support - to oppose against the ongoing discrimination of Indonesians.
The Sultanate was increasingly isolated by his neighbours and even sanction by the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand.