Does Indonesia Have Power to Become Key Player In Organization Of Islamic Cooperation?

OIC Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul Consolidating Collective Power Action
OIC Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul. Source:
OIC Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul
OIC Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul. Source:

There is no doubt of Indonesia’s stance regarding Palestine issues.  Indonesia is a longtime hard-line supporter for Palestine independence. It’s reflected on history, Palestine was the first country to acknowledged Indonesia’s independence. This means that Indonesia is trying to do the same for Palestine. Indonesia has done many things to ensure Palestine freedom, such as giving aid for Palestine from our consulate office in Ramallah, pushing Palestine independence in OIC summit, consolidation with other Muslim state and so on. With Indonesia’s action, influence Palestine to give Indonesia chance to held OIC Summit in Jakarta in 2016. This also gives chances for Indonesia to show their commitment to helping Palestine to the fullest.

But from my own perspective, Indonesia has evolved to become the key actor by supporting and using Palestine to gain recognition from OIC countries. It’s mean Indonesia wants to become the influential member in OIC. As we know about, four countries have quite big influence in OIC: Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. There is no surprise why Indonesia yet to become an influential member in OIC. These five countries have a political agenda whether one wants to promote moderate Islam way or to share their theological perspective and more. All I can say is, OIC summit 2016, shall be Indonesia cornerstone to have a bigger influence in organizations and to the farthest extent, to become a leader (actual leader).

From my forecast, Indonesia has the ambition to maximize Indonesia role, from supporter to a key player in any issues related to Indonesia’s interests including in OIC too. But there is a question in my mind, does Indonesia be able to do that?

To answer, we must have a common understanding of the definition of power. What is power?  As Morgenthau said, power achieve ends, but for ultimate objective itself is different from the various state. But, if I have to choose, definition of Power from Viotti and Kauppi is a comprehensive one. In Kaupi and Viotti words, power is defined as the means by which a state or other actor wields or can assert actual or potential influence or coercion relative to other states and nonstate actors because of the political, geographic, economic and financial, technological, military, social, cultural, or other capabilities it possesses (Viotti & Kaupi, 2013). From this definition, one can assume that power is an accumulation of capabilities it possesses. Capabilities can have a different form, whether military, economy, geography, etc. Ultimate end for executing the power which state has is the influence. We have already seen that final product from the power is to gain influence over any other states. For example, China’s have a big influence in Asia because their economic power is vast. Or the USA can get almost all of the states in the world in their Global War on Terror campaign because of their multidimensional power like military, economy, ideology, culture. Hence, based on this assumption, I will try to analyze Indonesia’s capabilities but I will narrow it only to three capability: economy, military, and geography.

Firs the military capabilities. Based on global firepower data, Indonesia’s military is topping Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia, below from Turkey. Nevertheless, Iran possessed nuclear power capabilities. Since 2003, Iran has a developed nuclear power but for energy purposes. But nuclear have flexible purpose whether to serve as energy purpose or military purpose, so in spite Indonesia topping Iran, we do not have nuclear power. Then, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Both they have nuclear power for energy purpose. In other stance, Turkey had green-lit privelege to hosting allies nuclear weapons as their status as NATO member which provide deterrence to her potential adversaries. As for Malaysia, they do not have nuclear capability. What’s dangerous for nuclear power is uranium and plutonium element. They can be made for producing energy or convert into a deadly weapon. But, Indonesia’s military capability cannot be underestimated. As far as I know, Indonesia special army is considered to be one of the best. Also, Indonesia is undergoing military development thanks to “RENSTRA” program. In other words, from military capabilities, Indonesia is slightly beneath Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia but surpassed Malaysia.

Let’s move to economy capability. In terms of GDP as a basic examination for economy capability, Indonesia’s GDP is far left behind from Malaysia ($9.502,27), Iran ($5.038), Turkey ($10.787,61) and Saudi Arabia (20.028,65). Indonesia’s GDP itself at the level $3.570,29 or the lowest GDP between these four. As for geography itself, Indonesia’s is in a big advantage. Located between two Ocean and two continent, Indonesia has abundant resources and also important for the trade route. Especially, Indonesia’s have several important choke point like Malacca strait and Sunda strait and also Indonesia’s have oil resources although is not much as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Geographically, Turkey is considered to be a bridge between East and West. The continent which located in Asia and Europe make Turkey is a good example of the two civilization live on the same continent. As for Iran and Saudi Arabia, their continent is rich for oil resources and can serve both as an economy and political power. Saudi Arabia oil resources number is varied but according to OPEC data in 2016, Saudi Arabia oil reaches 266 billion barrels in number. Iran itself in oil resources number has reached 156 billion barrels. But most of all the land in both countries are covered by desert, so besides oil, they do not have any resources. Malaysia geography is rich for mineral resources. These resources are one of the backbones of Malaysia economy. And also they have quite rich maritime resources. But as far as geography analyze include, Saudi Arabia and Iran are taking the lead. Oil resources itself is capable to change other states behavior because we need oil for our States whether for industry and anything else. However, in the distant future, Indonesia will be capable to surpass these four countries.

To analyze Indonesia’s capabilities only based on three-point, I admit, only give you a tip of iceberg information. That’s because it will need deeper research especially when you want to analyze from Islamic thinking and political stability as a whole. But, the number I provide here especially economy and military at least give you some pictures of Indonesia’s capability and other four states capability in OIC. In terms economy, Indonesia will surely lose to four states, but at least in the near future, Indonesia can catch up and surpassing these four countries in GDP as long as Indonesia can utilize their advantage in geography. In the military, Indonesia still beneath Turkey in terms of ranking based on global firepower. But, there are many variables which need to be considered in military capabilities and  These four states will always have their military improve because of demand in anarchy IR world.  I think Indonesia’s geography will be the best weapon to gain influence in OIC. Different from these four, Indonesia’s have a tremendous advantage and benefit in geography. They have abundant resources, ranging from natural resources, oil resources, and human resources (Indonesia’s is the fourth most populous country in the world). But as long as Indonesia steadily growing and utilize it’s potential, I am confident that Indonesia can have a bigger influence and hold a key role in OIC.



Rizky Ridho Pratomo

Student of IR UPN “Veteran” Jakarta

Editor: Chairul Fajar




Viotti, P. R., & Kaupi, M. V. (2013). International Relations and World Politics. Carlisle: Pearson.



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