Stalemate in Dili
Meanwhile, 'negotiations' between Aussie-led troops and 'rebel' 'commander' Alfredo Reinado have ground to a halt, and violence has continued in Dili. Eyewitness reports suggest a curiously erratic approach to the restoration of law and order on the part of Aussie troops: in some cases the Aussies have fired shots at gangs of looters, but in other cases they have stood back and allowed the gangs to go about their business. Some on the anti-intervention left are suggesting that the Aussie grunts have orders from on high to allow the violence in Dili to rumble on, in order to increase pressure on Alkatiri to resign. I certainly think that Reinado's refusal to 'surrender' has been Okayed by Australia, and is intended to increase the pressure on Alkatiri, but I don't think the Aussies have an interest in seeing Dili continue to burn. I think that the intervention in East Timor is first and foremost a 'police' action by Bush's Deputy Sheriff in the Asia Pacific region, and that continued disorder and threats to foreign assets and investments would therefore be a severe blow to John Howard's credibility. The heavy weather Howard's boys are making is already encouraging some misgivings in interesting places.
The World Socialist Website may be a little wrong in its account of the exact nature Australia's motivations in East Timor, but it has produced a very good article about the likelihood of the recolonisation of the Solomons being used as a model for East Timor, if Australia succeeds in stabilising the situation in Dili.