Search

 

Cablegate: East Java Nahdlatul Ulema Conference: Politics, Religion,

VZCZCXRO1329
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0071/01 3121116
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081116Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0103
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0039
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0041
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0105

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000071

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS
NSC FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL PHUM SOCI ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA NAHDLATUL ULEMA CONFERENCE: POLITICS, RELIGION,
AND AMBITION

REF: A. JAKARTA 03070 (POLITICAL ISLAM)

B. SURABAYA 65 (EAST JAVA'S CHINESE MUSLIMS)

SURABAYA 00000071 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: The East Java Nahdlatul Ulema (NU) Conference
selected Ali Maschan Moesa as the Chairman of the NU Tanfidziyah
Council on November 4. Ali Maschan's election did nothing to
dampen speculation that he would soon announce his candidacy in
the 2008 East Java Governor's race. Ali Maschan has stated
publicly that he would prefer to serve as NU's National
Chairman, rather than as East Java's Vice Governor. Disavowals
of interest and prohibitions against NU officials seeking public
office aside, Ali Maschan would make a powerful running mate for
Golkar's gubernatorial candidate Soenarjo given NU's popularity
in East Java. Meanwhile, East Java's NU continues to debate how
to balance its role in religious life and politics. End Summary.

2. (SBU) A host of influence political and civic leaders
attended the early November East Java NU conference, which took
place in Peseantrn Zaenul Hasan, in Genggonh, Probolinggo.
Approximately 4,000 NU followers, including the Minister for
Information and Communication, the Minister of Trade, the
Minister of Religion, former President Gus Dur, the Governor of
East Java Imam Oetomo, the National Chairman of NU Hasyim
Muzadi, the Bupatis of Probolinggo and Sidoarjo, and the Vice
Mayor of Surabaya, attended the gathering. While NU Chairman
Hasyim Muzadi urged the conference to focus on internal issues
and improving the lives of the people, the conference and the
media coverage it generated were dominated by politics (Ref A).

POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT?
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) As described by local observers, East Java's NU
leadership divides into two camps: some Kiais (an informal title
within the NU community bestowed in recognition of an
individual's knowledge and standing in society) strictly hold to
"Khittah 1926," which prohibits NU from involvement in politics.
Other Kiais believe that NU leaders need to be involved in
politics because only with political power and authority can NU
advance the peoples' welfare and support the struggle for the
peoples' rights. Drawing on a local example, these Kiais ask
how NU can help the people affected by the Lapindo mud flow
disaster if NU leaders are not involved in politics. They add
that many NU Kiais have been involved in politics throughout
history.

4. (SBU) All candidates for chairman of East Java NU signed a
"Jamiyah" contract, which stated they would not become
indirectly or directly involved in politics, including running
in local elections, if elected NU chairman. On November 4, the
conference elected Ali Maschan Moesa as Chairman of the East
Java NU Tanfidziyah Council (executive body) and Kiai Miftahul
Akhyar, leader of Pesantren Miftachussunnah in Surabaya, as the
Chairman of Rois Syuriah (law-making body) for the 2007-2012
term. This was the first-ever election of the Rois Syuriah
chairman; traditionally changing only on the death of the
incumbent.

POLITICAL AMBITIONS
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Speculation about Ali Maschan's political ambitions
intensified after the conference. Most observers dismiss
suggestions that the Jamiyah contract prohibited Ali Maschan
from seeking public office -- he would just need to suspend his
NU duties during the campaign period. A November 6 Jawa Pos
editorial suggested that Ali Maschan was trying to increase his
bargaining power by accepting the chairmanship position and
simultaneously refusing to rule out joining Soenarjo's
gubernatorial campaign. Farhan Effendy, a journalist from Surya
Daily, wrote November 6 that Ali Maschan should resign his
position as East Java NU Chair and run for Vice Governor.
Recognizing the importance of having a senior NU official on the
ticket, Golkar gubernatorial candidate Soenarjo reportedly
approached Khofifah Indar Parawansa, former Minister of Women's
Empowerment and current Chairwoman of Muslimat NU (the NU
women's organization), about joining the ticket should Ali
Maschan ultimately decline his offer.

6. (SBU) M. Asfar, a political observer from Airlangga
University and director of the Democracy and Human Rights Study
Center (PUSDEHAM) told Consulate General Surabaya that Ali

SURABAYA 00000071 002.2 OF 002


Maschan's decision to accept the chairmanship position was very
strategic. Should he decide to be Soenarjo's running mate, as
the East Java NU Chairman, he would select his successor from
among those who supported his vision of NU and its role in
society. Asfar speculated that Ali Maschan would select Kiai
Mutawakkil Allah, leader of Pesantren Zaenul Hasan (host of the
conference), to be the next chairman. He added that this would
explain why Kiai Mutawakkil refused all suggestions to challenge
Ali Maschan in this year's election.

7. (SBU) Ali Maschan Moesa has made no secret of his interest in
high office, either in politics or within NU (Ref B). He has
long said that he would prefer to serve as the National Chairman
of NU rather than East Java Vice Governor. Asfar told us that
Ali Maschan's chances of succeeding to the position of National
NU Chairman were limited because he did not currently have the
support of either the current National Chairman Hasyim Muzadi or
Gus Dur. Asfar concluded that Hasyim Muzadi planned to run for
a third term as National NU Chairman himself. Asfar suggested
that Ali Maschan will decide that joining Soenarjo in the
governor's mansion will best position him to replace Hasyim
Muzadi.

BIO NOTE
-------------

8. (SBU) Bio Note: Dr. Ali Maschan Moesa was born in
Tulungagung, East Java, in 1956. He replaced Kiai Hasyim Muzadi
(current NU National Chairman) as Chairman of the East Java NU
in December 1999, after serving as Hasyim Muzadi's deputy. Ali
Maschan completed his Masters and PhD degrees at Airlangga
University, and is a senior lecturer at IAIN Surabaya. Hi wrote
his PhD on the role of Kiai in religion and politics. In his
dissertation, Ali Maschan broke kiai into three categories:
"Fundamentalist Clerics," "Moderate Clerics," and "Pragmatic
Clerics." He is a leading figure in the Surabaya interfaith
forum and is considered a campaigner for "moderate Islam." Ali
Maschan participated in an International Visitor Program in
2001. He speaks some English, but prefers to speak in
Indonesian.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>