ASPI suggests
15 Jan 2016|

Welcome to the first Suggests of 2016, straight to you from Washington, DC.

Kicking off today is the unfortunate news of a terrorist attack on the Sarinah Mall in downtown Jakarta. In an interview with The Conversation (worth reading in full), terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail suggests that the Sarinah incident occurred due to a lower terror threat after Christmas and New Year’s Eve when the threat level was higher and an attack expected. Indonesian police have confirmed that one of the firearms recovered from the scene is officially state-issued, but not by the police force. Meanwhile, Jakartans’ defiant response to the terrorists was to take to social media with good-old Indonesian humour, evaluating what police were wearing during the shoot-out (#OOTD) and remarking how handsome some male cops are #polisiganteng.

Crystal ballin’, crystal clear. After last November’s Paris attacks, Sidney Jones had some scarily prescient words about a potential leadership struggle among ISIS-aligned groups in Indonesia playing out as an act ‘lethal one-upmanship’. She dropped the mic on this note:

The essence of terrorism is unpredictability. If we assume that because it’s quiet now in Jakarta, it is going to stay that way, we could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

All good in the Southeast Asian ‘hood? Three RSIS analysts argue that Indonesia and Malaysia could enjoy even better ties with the growing personal affinity between President Jokowi and PM Najib. That said, negative perceptions between their citizenries have often gotten in the way. Read more on the state of bilateral relations of our neighbours here.

Futurama. Over on Devpolicy blog, Bal Kama shares what he thinks 2016 will hold in store for Papua New Guinea. Fun fact: according to Bal, social media is ‘fast becoming the single most powerful tool for advocating issues of public importance in the country’. As for the rest of the South Pacific, Tess Newton Cain has your covered with her forecast for the year ahead, with elections and renewed Pacific diplomacy efforts headlining.

Don’t fake it ’til you make it. An anonymous employee survey conducted by the Department of Defence (and shown to The Mandarin) found that some women felt a failure to enforce new standards, inconsistency and inauthentic body language by male leaders undermined cultural change efforts. Conducted at the halfway mark of Defence’s program to tackle abuse and unacceptable behaviour, the report surveyed employees from all three services and the APS. For more results of the report, keep reading here.

The Cable Guy. This week’s infographic pick shows us what the global network of submarine cables for the World Wide Web look like. Updated regularly, the Submarine Cable Map is a free resource by TeleGeography that lets you click on individual cables to reveal useful bits of information including construction, telecom owners, lengths and landing points. 

Iraq and roll. CNAS’ Peter Kirechu looks at how Iraqi forces are leading a ferocious campaign against daesh in Anbar province and what needs to be done to ensure their gains hold.

For an alternative take on the conflict in Iraq and Syria, a US Air Force Operations School/Joint Special Operations University cartographer has produced a map that shows, due to an uncanny combination of plankton decomposing in specific areas and religious history, almost all of the Persian Gulf’s fossil fuels are located underneath Shiite areas. Keep reading here.


Show me the money! If you ever wanted to know how Bitcoin works, listen to the latest Lawfare podcast featuring Nick Weaver of the International Computer Science Institute in Berkley, California. Weaver discusses what Bitcoin is, why it’s a headache for law enforcement and why you should sell it (45mins).

Meanwhile, you can listen to my thoughts on the Jakarta attacks, Indonesia’s security forces and why CT cooperation between Southeast Asian states is essential with ABC’s The World Today (transcript included).


Canberra: What will the Sustainable Development Goals mean for China, Korea, Indonesia and other Asia-Pacific states? Find out at a public forum hosted by ANU’s Crawford School on Wednesday 10 February at 1.50pm. Full details here.

Sydney: The China Studies Centre at University of Sydney is hosting Dr Yuan Xi from Hong Kong who’ll discuss enforcing energy and environmental policies in China. His talk is on Wednesday 27 January at 12.30pm. Full details here.