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Indonesia-North Syria relations (21st Century Crisis)

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Indonesia-North Syria relations
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Indonesia-North Syria relations (Indonesian: Hubungan Indonesia-Suriah Utara, Arabic: العلاقات بين اندونيسيا وشمال سوريا, French: Rapports Indonésie-Syrie du Nord) refer to the political and bilateral relations between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of North Syria. Currently, North Syrian-Indonesian relations are rather cordial. They were established in 2011, when North Syria became independent from the Syrian Arab Republic, with Indonesia recognizing its independence.

North Syria has an embassy in Jakarta and a consulate in Surabaya, Indonesia has an embassy in Aleppo and a general consulate in Latakia.

The two currently sea each other as important leaders and partners in their respective regions. North Syria views Indonesia as one of its biggest allies in Southeast Asia, and sees it as as the most important country in ASEAN and APEC. Indonesia sees North Syria as a key power in the Middle East, and a very important member of the Arab League.

The Indonesian Embassy in Aleppo hosts many festivals and dances related to the diverse cultures of Indonesia, to give North Syrians a taste of the country's diversity.

Both are also Muslim nations, and are members of the Global Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

However, there has currently been lots of bad-mouthing between Indonesian and North Syrian officials, particularly with the Indonesian government's handling of convicts via execution.

According to a 2015 BBC World Service Poll, 64% of Indonesians view North Syrian influence negatively while 36% expressing positive views. About 43% of North Syrians view Indonesian influence and leadership negative, while 57% expressing positive views.


During the Syrian Civil War, the Indonesian government under the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono questioned the true intentions of North Syrian independence. This had put the the Indonesian government under hot water from human rights activists and anti-Assad movements. However, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did send aid to the newly-formed and war-torn nation.

He also sent Indonesian Armed Forces peace-keeping units to the Kingdom. However other than that, Indonesia declared a State of Neutrality on the Syrian Civil War. Though, evidently they had been generally leaning on support for Bashar al-Assad.

In spite of this, Indonesia recognized North Syria's creation as a State, an sent diplomats, first to Riyadh (as a safe city), to open talks about opening an embassy in Aleppo and a general consulate in Latakia. Though, it wasn't until October 4, 2012 that Indonesia was able to open an embassy in Aleppo due to the economic fallout caused by the Syrian Civil War. North Syria opened its embassy on November 12, 2012 in Jakarta, and its general consulate in Surbaya on January 10, 2013.

In 2013, Prime Minister Muhsin el-Hussein and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced the Nusantara-Shami Program, a student and tourist exchange program between North Syria and Indonesia. This would allow and encourage students from one another's nations educational and job opportunities.

About 643 Indonesian students were admitted into North Syrian colleges, another 130 accepted into North Syrian employment across Latakia, Aleppo and R'as al-Ayn. About 345 North Syrian students were admitted into Indonesian schools across Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya, about 101 registered North Syrian citizens were accepted into Indonesian employers.

On August 17, 2013, Muhsin el-Hussein made a stately visit to Indonesia to attend the Independence Day celebration.

During the 2015 and 2016 years, history has seen the biggest periods of tense and heated disagreements and even turbulence between the North Syrian and Indonesian governments.

On February 14, 2015, two Indonesian students, Ahmad Salim from Bandung, and Dawud Timur from Surabaya were killed during the Valentines Day massacre when Islamic State militants opened fire on civilians at the Aleppo City Square. Muhsin el-Hussein offers his condolences to the families of the Indonesian students. The North Syrian government agrees to pay for their flights back to Indonesia, as well as funeral costs.

The Indonesian government sends $13.5 million worth of aid and supplies to North Syria as well as a volunteer program to help with the recovery from the attacks.

During the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina death-row inmate in Indonesia, North Syria criticized the Indonesian government's handling of the situation. Razia bint Fahad, the Head of the Progressive Party criticized Indonesia of human rights violations.

The Indonesian government retaliated by pointing out that the North Syrian government practices executions as well, Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia saying that Razia was in no position to be criticizing his government. Many North Syrian progressives protested in front of the Indonesian embassy in Aleppo. In addition, North Syrian news media outlets began to portray Indonesians as being barbaric and uncivilized. This resulted in minor discrimination of overseas Indonesians in North Syria from job and education opportunities.

In return, tons of protestors in Jakarta burned North Syrian flags in front of the North Syrian embassy, shouting anti-North Syrian slurs. Retno Marsudi, Indonesia's Minister of Foreign Affairs called the North Syrian government and the royal family "hypocrites" and "pigs", claiming to promote racial equality but promoting negative stereotypes and stigmas of Indonesians, both within Indonesia itself and overseas communities in the Kingdom.

In light of the chaos, Muhsin el-Hussein, the Prime Minister of North Syria apologized to the Indonesian government, and stated that he did not share the country's "overreaction" and "sudden unjustified condemnation" of Indonesian law and policies. Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla, the Vice President of Indonesia accepted the apology. Muhsin el-Hussein made a state visit to Indonesia to confirm his support for their people and their government. Back in the Kingdom, this had put Muhsin el-Hussein under even more hot water.

Bad-mouthing continued between the two governments on February 15, 2016 when two North Syrian convicts in Indonesia, accused of training ISIS and other Islamist militants were put on death row. Prime Minister Muhsin el-Hussein drew fire when he said, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Let the Indonesian government do what they need."

Progressive Party Razia bint Fahad once-more, fired shots at both Muhsin el-Hussein and Joko Widodo. Many North Syrians had called for an embargo of trade and severing all relations with Indonesia.

On March 2, 2016, more outrage in North Syria. Five registered North Syrian students in Jakarta, accused of raping two women, and attacking a Christian, were sentenced to the death penalty by firing squad by the Supreme Court of Indonesia. Princess Razia said, "Indonesia is indeed, one of the most barbaric and evil countries in the world, and not a real Muslim nation."

The men were of Turkish-speaking ethnicity and all from R'as al-Ayan. They were executed on March 31, 2016. On that date, hundreds of North Syrians protested in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Aleppo, until driven out by police and army squads.

Much of the criticism also went against Muhsin el-Hussein, who made no attempts at stopping or altering the punishments. El-Hussein intentionally did this as he is a supporter of death penalty for dangerous criminals.

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