Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The role of Islam in Indonesia's contemporary foreign policy

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posted on 2021-11-15, 17:26 authored by Al Anshori, Mohamad Zakaria

This study aims to investigate the extent to which Islam influences Indonesian foreign policy in the post-Suharto era. Specifically, this research intends to examine under what circumstances the influence of Islam on Indonesian foreign policy will be substantial and under what conditions it will have less of an effect. Focusing on the era of the administration of President Yudhoyono, the issues covered in this study embrace Indonesia’s policies towards Iran’s nuclear programme, Kosovo’s independence and Palestinian statehood.   This study puts emphasis on the interplay between Muslim groups and the government in relation to the conduct of the country’s foreign policy. As interest groups, Muslim groups in Indonesia have had significant concerns about Muslim issues in both Indonesia’s domestic affairs and in its foreign policy.  In general, this study argues that there has been an increased role for Islam in Indonesia’s post-Suharto foreign policy. Islamic elements and Muslim groups’ aspirations have been increasingly included and accommodated in the country’s foreign policy. These accommodations are made to the extent that the aspirations these views reflect do not contradict fundamentally with Pancasila as state philosophy, the 1945 constitution and the country’s vital national interests, mainly those related to territorial integrity.  Specifically, the case of the Iranian nuclear programme has showed that the government ‘bowed’ to the Muslim groups’ pressures which were backed by the parliament. The government changed its position from supporting UNSC resolution 1747 on sanctions against Iran to abstaining on the similar resolution no. 1803. In this regard, the influence of Muslim groups on the country’s foreign policy was important and substantial as Muslim groups’ interests and members of parliament’s interests did converge against the government’s policy on that matter.   The Kosovo case has demonstrated an opposite effect. The government apparently firmed up its non-recognition of Kosovo’s independence and disregarded Muslim groups’ aspirations. Muslim groups’ aspiration to recognise Kosovo’s independence is perceived to contradict the most vital of the country’s national interest, namely national integrity. Finally, the case of Palestinian statehood has showed that the Indonesian government’s policy and Muslim groups’ aspirations have been aligned (unlike their differences over Iran) with a similar voice being presented.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Centre for Strategic Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Ayson, Robert; Capie, David