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Iran election: The view from Jakarta

There has been little reaction, official or otherwise, from Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country — to the election turmoil in Iran. On Sunday, after the Iranian election results had been announced, a spokesman from Indonesia’s foreign ministry offered a quick congratulations.

“We welcome the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and are ready to continue our cooperation with Iran,” Teuku Faizasyah, the foreign ministry spokesman, said Sunday. The spokesman went on to congratulate the people of Iran for the peaceful and smooth implementation of the presidential elections. “I congratulate the people of Iran for the successful implementation of the democratic elections, although there are some people who are not satisfied,” he told the state news agency.

It was not long after these comments that the riots broke. The Indonesian government has since kept quiet.

There were no reports of protests outside the Iranian embassy or anywhere else in capital city, Jakarta, though several Muslim intellectuals here voiced their disapproval of Ahmadinejad’s leadership in the Muslim world.

The two countries have increased bilateral ties in recent years, cooperating in economic, industrial and social sectors.

Indonesians, however, are predominantly Sunni, and although Muslim, share little of the Shiite Iranian leadership’s ideological zeal.

And, in fact, Indonesia has more closely aligned itself with American interests. Last week, the country said it would ratify a treaty banning nuclear tests if the United States does the same, giving a boost to Barack Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world.

Indonesia is one of nine countries including the United States that need to ratify the treaty, which would ban all nuclear explosions everywhere for any purpose, according to Reuters.

“We share his vision of a world in which nuclear weapons have been eradicated,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said on a visit to Washington last week.

Wirajuda also said Indonesia, which has friendly relations with both Iran and North Korea, is willing to help the United States negotiate with the two countries.

See here for an overview of local reaction around the world.