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TROOP POLARIZATION IN WEST JAVA: REPUBLICAN ARMY AND ISLAMIC MILITIAS FROM THE BRITISH LANDING TO THE RENVILLE AGREEMENT

While the leaders of the nationalist movement in Jakarta were busy with diplomatic talks, Bandung and the Priangan were gradually becoming the centres of a power struggle for regional control. In May 1946 the Republican government began integrating and rationalizing irregular troops, with the goal of creating a unified army. In the following paragraphs I lay out the premises of this attempt at integration in West Java and the impact of this political decision on the relations between regular soldiers and the Islamic militias. Most skirmishes resulted from the scarcity of weapons; the Islamic militias’ disapproval of Republican soldiers’ unwillingness to fight; and the Republican soldiers’ grudges against the popular support enjoyed by the Islamic militias.

This delicate balance between Republican and Islamic soldiers was further upset by the Dutch invasion of West Java in July 1947. Republican troops and Islamic militias scattered across the Priangan, and as Masyumi was gaining increased footing in the territory, the military confrontation became politicized, with the Republic accusing Masyumi of attempting to become a substitute government. It is in this context that Republican and Islamic troops clashed in Blubur Limbangan and that Kartosuwiryo began the re-structuring of the provincial branch of Masyumi under the name of Darul Islam.

 
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