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Washington vetoes aid to Sri Lanka and paves the way for Chinese expansion

By Lucas Leiroz | December 22, 2020

Sri Lanka has become the scene of a new battle in the trade war between China and the US. The growth of the Chinese presence in the country has led Washington to a strong concern, materialized in Mike Pompeo’s visit to Colombo in October. But even the strong American pressure was not enough to prevent the advance of Chinese investments and this is taking the American government to a drastic measure: to cancel the development aid that it had promised to Sri Lanka.

The official statement about the end of the aid program came through the US Embassy in Colombo on Thursday, December 17. The Embassy confirmed that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) fund that had been approved for aid to Sri Lanka will now be redirected to other strategic partners. According to Washington, Sri Lanka showed a lack of involvement and interest in the alliance – which is due to the fact that it continued to cooperate economically with China, in parallel with the US.

This agreement was part of a cooperation program between the US and Sri Lanka established during the previous government of Ranil Wickremesinghe in the last year of his term. At the time, Wickremesinghe faced strong resistance at the congress due to the lack of transparency about the nature of the agreement. Its critics say the terms are unclear and claim that the program could simply be an excuse to guarantee American military advance in the region. The MCC, however, says it is a cooperation program whose sole purpose is to help reduce poverty in the Asian country, without any political or military interest related to it. Currently, MCC has partnerships of this type with approximately 30 countries in different regions of the planet, totaling more than 13 billion dollars invested in these programs. In the case of Sri Lanka, the agreement provided for an investment of 480 million dollars.

Although Washington denies the political nature of the agreement, it is clear that it is a financial aid in exchange for political support and international alignment. The very end of the agreement proves this: simply because Sri Lanka has ties with China, Washington canceled the agreement. As we can see, the interest in “alleviating poverty” seems quite secondary to the interest in isolating China economically in the global trade war.

Relations between the US and Sri Lanka have deteriorated greatly over the past few months. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has been characterized by a moderately pro-Chinese stance, which was enough to irritate Americans. The Trump Administration went to the extreme of banning the entry of Sri Lankan Army Chief, General Shavendra Silva, into American territory. Shavendra Silva is considered a national hero in his country but has entered the Washington blacklist due to alleged human rights violations that would have been committed on the battlefield during the civil war. Obviously, it is fair to punish someone for violating human rights, but strangely this denunciation by Washington only appeared after the beginning of the deterioration of relations between the two countries.

The definitive point of tensions occurred in October, when Washington tried to “recover” Sri Lanka by sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Colombo. During a 12-hour visit, Pompeo met with local authorities and made several public statements attacking China, saying that the only way for Sri Lanka to become a strong and sovereign country is through strategic cooperation with the US. On the same occasion, Pompeo said that Chinese behavior is “predatory”.

Also in October, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dean Thompson said that Sri Lanka needs to make some choices that would be necessary, albeit difficult – and said that such choices would be the only way to guarantee the country’s economic development. In other words, Thompson said that Sri Lanka needs to abdicate from relations with China in order to develop, which is absolutely unrelated to reality. China has already invested nearly 8 billion dollars in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Colombo Port City and Hambantota Port are Chinese developments. Still, Beijing has been providing billionaire loans to Sri Lanka since 2005, with long repayment terms and even forgiving some debts. This is not the typical “predatory” behavior, much less seems that Sri Lanka’s abdication from ties with Beijing is a condition for development.

What happens, however, is that Washington continues to act with a war mentality. Sri Lanka accepts cooperation agreements with Washington and Beijing simply because it is a sovereign country with its own interests and does not want to take part in a trade conflict that does not concern it. Sri Lanka’s stance is sovereign and not aligned and the country will continue to make deals with any power that helps to deal with its main social problems. Washington will certainly put Sri Lanka on its blacklist from now on and impose sanctions and blockades, but it is the Americans who have the most to lose from it. Without American help, Colombo will seek even more Chinese support and Beijing will have a geographically strategic ally on its side, further reducing the American presence in Asia.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Strategic Victory For China? US Drops Key Project Amid Sri Lanka’s Unrelenting Security Concerns

By Rishikesh Kumar – Sputnik – 17.12.2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Sri Lanka in October to coax the Gotabaya Rajapksa government to sign the Millennium Challenge Cooperation Agreement. A controversy erupted ahead of Pompeo’s visit, as the US called upon Colombo “to make difficult but necessary decisions” to pick sides between Beijing and Washington.

In a major setback amid the growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region, the US has decided to discontinue a proposed $480 million development assistance programme in Sri Lanka due to “lack of partner country engagement”.

The US Embassy in Colombo on Thursday informed through a press statement that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board has decided that the approved fund for Sri Lanka will now be made available to other eligible partner countries.

The Millennium Challenge Cooperation Agreement was approved by the previous government of Ranil Wickremesinghe in the last year of his tenure, but he was unable to get approval from parliament, evoking widespread resistance among people who believed it compromised the nation’s sovereignty and national security.

Nevertheless, the US has once again reiterated that the programme, also facing resistance in another South Asian nation, Nepal, is transparent in nature.

“Country ownership, transparency, and accountability for grant results are fundamental to MCC’s development model”, the statement reads.The MCC has been dubbed a “development project aimed at poverty alleviation” by the US, but many people in Sri Lanka consider it a tool to expand military outreach in the Indian Ocean.

The MCC has partnered with nearly 30 countries worldwide on 38 grant agreements, totalling nearly $13.5 billion.

Ties between the two countries soured under the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government as the Trump administration considered it biased in favour of China. The Trump administration also introduced a ban on the entry of Sri Lanka’s Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva – who is considered a war hero in the 30-year battle against Tamil militancy – into the United States on charges of human rights violations.

In October this year, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dean Thompson urged Sri Lanka to make “difficult but necessary choices” to secure its economic independence instead of choosing opaque practices in an apparent reference to China deepening its relations with the South Asian country. Beijing reacted to the remark and asked the US to shun a “Cold War” mentality. China has invested nearly $8 billion in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, with Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port Projects being the two major ones.

December 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo will not have his way in Sri Lanka

By P.K.Balachandran | Daily Express | October 25, 2020

Colombo – The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who will be here on October 28, is expected to ask Sri Lankan leaders, point blank, to review relations with China; consider the options US is offering; and accept American advice on domestic and foreign policy.

A top foreign ministry official told Daily Express on Sunday, that Lankan leaders, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, will politely tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka’s decisions and policies will be guided by election mandates, the law and the constitution of the country, and its interests, while maintaining good relations with all countries in the region and the world.

“All the three leaders will tell the ranking US official politely that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country,” the top Lankan official, who spoke on anonymity, said.

Pompeo is expected to press the government not to go in for Chinese-funded projects anymore but choose other countries and international organizations to fund projects mutually agreed upon.

The US Secretary of State will also press for the acceptance of the US$ 480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC) which a Lankan Presidential Commission wanted to be either rejected in toto, or re-negotiated to accord with Lankan law, constitution and socio-political and economic realities.

The Lankan official said that the controversial issue of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) will not come up for discussion because the government has made it clear that SOFA is against the Sri Lankan constitution and laws.

On the US bid to draw Sri Lanka into an anti-China alliance like Quad, the official said: “We would tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka, which has only recently emerged from a thirty-year war, does not want to be a theater of international conflict in any way. But it is interested in ensuring free navigation in the Indian and other oceans. Pompeo would be reminded that in 1971 Sri Lanka had pioneered the idea of turning the Indian Ocean into a Zone of Peace.”

On the American demand that Sri Lanka abjure Chinese investments, the leaders would say that Sri Lanka needs investments from all countries as it is keen on developing the country, especially in the infrastructure sector.

“All countries, including the US, are welcome to invest in Sri Lanka. If the US and others match China, their offers would be considered,” another foreign ministry official said.

However, given the fact that the US is primarily interested in geopolitical and military matters with a focus on isolating and weakening China in these spheres, it would not make any economic investment proposals. Pompeo would find it difficult to proceed further on this matter in his discussions here, it is felt.

“Debt Trap” Issue

“If he raises the debt trap issue, we have facts and figures to show that the debt to China is only 5.6 billion USD out of a total external debt of 55 billion USD (which is 10%). The US owes China much more – USD 1 trillion,” the official said.

Arm-Twisting

However, Pompeo could indulge in arm-twisting by threatening further sanctions against Chinese companies involved in Sri Lankan development projects. Some subsidiaries of the China Communications and Construction Company (one of which is executing the Colombo US$ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City) are already “listed” for alleged “predatory practices and lack of transparency”.

However, the Sri Lankans do not appear to be perturbed by such a possibility because listing has to be on solid grounds. And even if security issues are cited, it has to stand legal scrutiny in the US itself, the officials explained.

But the shoe might pinch if the US stops or lessens its imports of apparels from the island. The US buys about US$ 2.5 billion worth of Lankan apparels annually. This is 3% of the Lanka’s DGP and the US is the single largest market. But even stopping this is unlikely given the fact Lankan apparels enter the US market without GSP duty concessions.

Ethnic Reconciliation

As for Pompeo’s prescriptions on ethnic reconciliation, the Sri Lankan leaders will cite the mandates they got through the November 2019 Presidential and August 2020 parliamentary elections, which is that any solution to the ethnic question will have to be acceptable to the majority community in Sri Lanka and that reconciliation should be brought about by measures to develop the country economically in a way which benefits all communities equitably.

American Intentions Not A Secret

American intentions were made clear on October 22 by Dean Thompson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at a press briefing. Thompson said that Pompeo will “encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices.”

“We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions to secure its economic independence for long-term prosperity, and we stand ready to partner with Sri Lanka for its economic development and growth. The Secretary will also emphasize the ties between our people, our shared commitment to democracy, and the importance of our ongoing regional maritime security cooperation. We’ll continue to urge Sri Lanka to advance democratic governance, human rights, reconciliation, religious freedom, and justice, which promote the country’s long-term stability and prosperity and ensure the dignity and equality of all Sri Lanka’s diverse communities.”

With regard to China’s increasing influence in Sri Lanka, Thompson said: “I think we’re looking to frame a discussion with them about a more positive trajectory, as I mentioned in my opening remarks. So definitely we’ll be discussing where they’re headed and looking for ways to strengthen their commitment to human rights rule of law and democracy.”

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

US eyes Sri Lanka as its military logistics hub

Sri Lankan presidential aspirant Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the radical Buddhist monk Gnanasara Thera of Bodu Bala Sena. File photo.
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | July 3, 2019

The Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on 21st April in which 259 people were killed and over 500 injured were initially attributed to the Islamic State (IS). But no hard evidence is available to substantiate such a reading and it remains an open question as to the perpetrators.

The Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena may have somewhat de-mystified the topic this week. On July 1, Sirisena charged at a public function that drug traffickers are behind the Easter Sunday bomb attacks. The following day he ordered the arrest of former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and the Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara for their failure to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks despite prior knowledge of the attacks.

What lends enchantment to the view is that the United States had brilliantly succeeded in deploying to Sri Lanka the personnel of the Indo-Pacific Command within a couple of days of the Easter Sunday attacks on the pretext of investigating and assisting in Colombo’s upcoming fight against the IS. Historically, Sri Lanka is chary of allowing foreign military presence on its soil, but in this case Washington pressed home the deployment, since the ruling elite in Colombo was on the back foot, incoherent and in disarray in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

In political terms, what Sirisena may have done this week is to reverse the ‘internationalisation’ of Sri Lanka’s terrorism problem. Indeed, for tackling a local drug mafia, Sri Lanka doesn’t need the expertise of the US’ Indo-Pacific Command.

This is just as well because in the downstream of the Easter Sunday attacks in April, Washington also began pushing hard for the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Sri Lanka, which Pentagon has traditionally demanded as the pre-requisite of establishment of military bases in foreign countries. (The SOFA establishes the rights and privileges of American personnel present in a host country in support of a larger security arrangement.)

Unsurprisingly, the Sri Lankan opinion militated against the SOFA project and suspected its real intentions. A huge uproar followed in the Sri Lankan media. Without doubt, the SOFA became yet another template of the power struggle between the staunchly nationalistic Sirisena and the famously ‘pro-western’ prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The net result is that the project which the US hoped to conclude in absolute secrecy, got derailed once the draft SOFA document under negotiation got somehow leaked to a Colombo newspaper. Interestingly, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was scheduled to travel to Colombo following his recent visit to New Delhi was compelled to cancel the visit once it became apparent that the SOFA project has become a hot potato.

Meanwhile, the Empire strikes back. A case has been filed in the US District Court in central California by an American law firm claiming damages on behalf of alleged victims of human rights abuse during the war against separatist LTTE ten years ago. The plaintiffs have targeted Gotabaya Rajapaksa, then wartime defense chief and the younger brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as several government agencies, including military intelligence, the Criminal Investigation Department, the Terrorism Investigation Division, and the Special Intelligence Service, including some serving officials.

Of course, this is a blatant American attempt to put into jeopardy Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s plan to run for president in the upcoming Sri Lankan election in December. Gotabaya was a US citizen at the time of the war against the LTTE. He has dual citizenship and his request renouncing American citizenship is pending with Washington. Now, the catch is, the lawsuits in California could delay his bid to renounce his US citizenship, in which case he would not qualify to run for president under Sri Lankan electoral laws. Washington has tripped Gotabaya.

The US is making sure that the Rajapaksa family will not regain the calculus of power in Colombo following the December poll. Equally, the trial in California can expose former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as well — and even entangle Sirisena who had a direct role as acting defence minister in the final stages of the war. Clearly, Washington is interfering in the December election in Sri Lanka in a calibrated manner with a view to strengthen the prospects of a pro-American candidate such as Wickremesinghe or the Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera who can be trusted to put the signature on the SOFA.

The US is determined to push ahead with the signing of the SOFA leading to the establishment of long-term American military presence in Sri Lanka. In August 2018, USS Anchorage, a Seventh Fleet vessel, and a unit of Marines visited the port of Trincomalee. In December 2018, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis visited Trincomalee as part of the Pentagon’s plans to establish a logistic hub there for the US Navy. A Mass Communication Specialist on board USS John C. Stennis in a dispatch to the US Navy official web portal wrote:

“The primary purpose of the operation is to provide mission-critical supplies and services to U.S. Navy ships transiting through and operating in the Indian Ocean. The secondary purpose is to demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s ability to establish a temporary logistic hum ashore where no enduring U.S. Navy logistic footprint exists.”

The US disclaims any intention to set up military bases in Sri Lanka. This is factually true — except that it is sophistry. The US plan to use Sri Lanka as a ‘military logistics hub’ involves supportive measures that facilitate any American military operation in the Asia-Pacific region. Actually, this is well beyond the solitary use of a particular harbour such as Trincomalee as a military base. The point is, the entire island nation is being transformed into a ‘military logistics hub’.

Never before has there been such blatant US interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. Washington tasted blood in the successful regime change project in January 2015 and it never looked back. The interference is so very extensive today that it is destabilising the Sri Lankan situation which is already highly polarised.

This is happening only due to India’s passivity bordering on acquiescence. The containment strategy against China in the Indian Ocean has become a common endeavour for Washington and Delhi. Is it in India’s long term interests that Sri Lanka is being destabilised, even if in the short term the Chinese Navy might be put to some difficulties in the Indian Ocean?

India’s medium and long term interests lie in regional stability. Its influence as a regional power is linked to regional stability. India cannot overlook that China has legitimate interests in our region. The US is a faraway power and is also in decline. It doesn’t make sense for India to bandwagon with the US in South Asia. A far more realistic approach will be to work with China and expand and deepen the common interests in regional security and stability.

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lankan Authorities May Have Fallen Into a Trap Set by a Foreign Power

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | 2019-04-22

The entire world remains confronted with the horrors that unfolded yesterday throughout Sri Lanka. Whilst the country remains under curfew, the authorities have pinned the blame for the attack on an obscure group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ). NTJ is reportedly an Islamist terror group that as noted by Sri Lankan authorities, has multiple links to foreign countries. The links to foreign countries appears to hold the key to determining who is really behind the attacks. Notably, it has been confirmed by journalists that the group trains in Chennai in Tamil Nadu – the same location where LTTE had previously trained.

As the Muslim population of Sri Lanka is less than 8% of the country’s entire population, it is difficult to conceive that any genuine local Islamist group would seek to stage such massive attacks when the possibility of any material gain would be limited by the fact that not only is Sri Lanka’s Muslim population at harmony with the Buddhist majority, but the population of Muslims is incredibly small. This contrasts sharply with the situation in Syria where a Sunni Muslim majority was weaponized against a leadership comprised of the minority Alawite faction.

Therefore, due to NTJ’s foreign links, it is highly likely that a foreign entity, most likely a foreign state or state intelligence agency was behind the attacks and that the men on the ground who have been captured are merely pawns in a much larger and even more dangerous game. When it comes to seeking to pin-pointing the country with a clear motive for orchestrating the attacks, India is the one that springs immediately to mind, not least because NTJ trains where the LTTE once did.

India has a long history of seeking to manipulate the power balance in Sri Lanka in order to turn the country into something of an Indian protectorate. These attempts have notably been resisted by most contemporary Sri Lankan leaders who seek an independent foreign policy that aims at securing win-win friendship not only with India but crucially, also with China and Pakistan.

In spite of this, India was one of the first open backers of the LTTE’s reign of terrorism that gripped Sri Lanka beginning in 1983. India ultimately paid a price for its dithering in the early stages of the Sri Lankan civil war. By the end of the 1987, India had given up on LTTE and instead sought to influence the situation by committing a deeply controversial peace keeping force to Sri Lanka whose overall effect only served to provoke further violence. As a result of India’s 1987 decision to publicly “switch sides”, LTTE assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. In spite of this, it has been widely known in Sri Lanka and elsewhere that in spite of the official rhetoric in New Delhi, India’s RAW intelligence agency resumed covert support of LTTE later in the 1990s.

Since the end of the war against LTTE in 2009, India has sought to monopolise foreign influence in a post-war Sri Lanka that has developed ever more economic ties with China and plays a key role in the Belt and Road initiative. This has clearly been a source of consternation for an Indian state that has a track record of meddling in the affairs of both Sri Lanka and the much smaller Maldives. In both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, political factions are often divided by foreign observers into a pro-India side and a pro-China side. Although such divisions are not black and white, there is a level of truth to such descriptions. As such, India recently engaged in what geopolitical expert Andrew Kroybko described as a “electoral regime change in the Maldives”. This came after the prominent BJP supporter Subramanian Swamy called for a traditional war against the Maldives.

India was clearly looking to the south both in terms of Maldives and Sri Lanka for much of late 2018 and early 2019. Beginning in late 2018, Sri Lanka experienced a serious political crisis after President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former political rival (and former President) Mahinda Rajapaksa. According to Sirisena and his supporters, the proximate causes of Wickremesinghe’s dismissal were personal, cultural and class differences that Sirisena called irreconcilable. Furthermore, it was claimed by some in the Sri Lankan press that the sacking of Wickremesinghe was due to an Indian backed assassination plot against the President which resulted in the abrupt about face in respect of the Sri Lankan President’s loyalty. Later however, Sirisena assured Indian Premier Modi that he had never made such an accusation.

But while Sirisena took the time to assure India that stories regarding an Indian assassination plot are ‘fake news’, an inevitable geopolitical justification for Wickremesinghe’s sacking was offered from many quarters of Indian media.

According to the Indian narrative throughout the end of the 2018,  the traditionally/”formerly” pro-India Sirisena dismissed the pro-India Wickremesinghe in favour of the pro-China Rajapaksa due to pressure from Beijing. Of course, no one has been able to present any evidence of any Chinese involvement in the matter while China itself has taken a diplomatic line on the matter that has respected Sirisena’s decision in a rather subdued manner.

Ultimately, the courts overruled Sirisena and Wickremesinghe has continued to serve as the country’s Prime Minister.

Whilst the saga which pitted Wickremesinghe against Rajapaksa on the orders of Sirisena does ultimately seem to have been a completely internal matter, India clearly has not forgotten that Sirisena had moved to install a Prime Minister who ostensibly was more favourable to China and less so to India. As Sri Lanka is a much larger country than Maldives, meddling in the political situation was clearly going to be more difficult than the “electoral regime change” that New Delhi pulled off in Malé. Beyond this, whilst Indian media did their best to meddle in the situation in Sri Lanka during late 2018 and early 2019, this may well not have been enough to satisfy elements of the Indian deep state seeking revenge against Sirisena.

Beyond this, the timing of the attacks is incredibly suspicious. After India’s  recent provocation against Pakistan resulted in humiliation after Pakistan downed two Indian jets and safely captured and later released an Indian pilot, it can be logically deduced that India sought to create a different regional disturbance against a target that is generally seen as “softer” from the Indian perspective vis-a-vis Pakistan.

As Sri Lanka defeated LTTE ten years ago, the atmosphere of peace that had prevailed may well have created a false sense of security that was ripe for exploitation. Even before Colombo named an obscure Islamist group as the culprits of the attacks, Indian politicians up to and including Narendra Modi began banging the drums of jingoistic Islamophobia as is par for the course when it comes to the radical Hindutva BJP.

Therefore, when one connects the dots, one sees that India stands to uniquely benefit from Sri Lanka’s turmoil not only in terms of internal electoral politics but in terms of weakening a Sri Lankan government that in spite of its allegedly pro-India Prime Minister maintains healthy and growing ties to China and Belt and Road. Thus, the attack could well serve as a “punishment” for Sri Lanka’s “crime” of moving closer towards Belt and Road. Making matters all the more beneficial for India is that a relative of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s family was also killed in the attack which took place on a five star hotel in which he was staying. It cannot be ruled out that RAW had knowledge of this and specially targeted the hotel in order to inevitably inflame Bangladeshi sentiment against Sri Lanka for its self-evident security failure.

Taken as a whole, India has clear motives for seeking to destabilise Sri Lanka at this time. What’s left for Sri Lankan investigators to do is make the foreign links of NTJ known to the wider world whilst Sri Lanka must also record and make public the voices of the surviving suspects so that experts can determine if the suspects speak in the language, dialect and vernacular that one would expect. Also, the bodies of the terrorists must be examined to determine whether they are circumcised or not. This is crucial as previous Indian false flag attacks have involved non-circumcised men (therefore not Muslims) participating in allegedly Islamist attacks whilst also, previous false flag attacks in India allegedly involving Pakistanis were later exposed due to the fact that the “Pakistani” suspects could not speak Urdu or any other official Pakistani language but instead spoke in languages and vernaculars common only to India.

Therefore, while it cannot be concluded with certainty that yesterday’s atrocity was a false flag attack, it can certainly not be ruled out. As such, anyone with a clear motive for conducting a false flag attack should be thoroughly investigated by the Sri Lankan authorities.

April 22, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

Indian diplomacy faces tropical summer in Male

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 8, 2018

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, J. J. Robinson, the well-known journalist and author of Maldives: Islamic Republic, Tropical Autocracy, reflected as follows:

  • Ultimately the ongoing telenovela of Maldivian political intrigue is a distraction from the real crisis – the illegitimacy of the judiciary. Handpicked by Gayoom during his rule and illegally given life tenure under the new constitution in 2010, the judges have been at the centre of most of the Maldives’ recent ills; at least 50% of the 200-odd judges and magistrates have less than seventh-grade education, while a quarter had actual criminal records, including convictions for sexual misconduct, embezzlement, violence and disruption of public harmony.
  • Resoundingly discredited by groups such as the International Committee of Jurists and the UN’s special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the institution demands wholesale reform, and likely the presence of foreign judges on the bench. However excited the opposition at their recent good fortune, current events are far from a triumph of judicial independence.

The Maldives President Abdulla Yameen hit the nail on the head when he disclosed on Tuesday that the Chief Justice of Supreme Court Abdulla Saeed was bribed to give such a ruling on February 1, by ordering the release of a clutch of politicians viscerally opposed to the regime and reinstating 12 erstwhile lawmakers (which would have made the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives forfeit majority support in the parliament.) Yameen didn’t say who bribed Saeed but he referred to a plot to overthrow him and vowed to get to the bottom of it.

One can only hope that Yameen doesn’t mention India in a fit of rancor. He has an alibi if he wants to put India on the mat, since Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed  (who is in police custody) had paid an extended official visit to New Delhi in late October, soon after the visit by former president Mohamed Nasheed to India in end-August. By the way, while in Delhi, Nasheed addressed a panel at Brookings India to present his case for regime change in Maldives, openly soliciting Indian support. Like icing on the cake, subsequently, the US ambassador in Colombo Arun Kashyap (who is accredited to Male) also dropped by for consultations over the situation in Maldives with the then Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar.

Nasheed himself is based in Colombo. But why would Sri Lankan government encourage Nasheed to overthrow Yameen? To my mind, all this looks like a replay of the botched-up attempt by the CIA to eliminate Turkish President Recep Erdogan in July 2015. The US state department statement on Tuesday, here, betrays a sense of fury and despair that Yameen survived.

India should distance itself from the tragic happenings in Maldives. Importantly, we should nip in the bud any misperceptions arising of being party even remotely to an American plot to overthrow the leadership of a friendly neighboring country. Therefore, we should reach out to Yameen quickly, decisively and demonstrably. After all, he had sent his foreign minister as special envoy to Delhi only recently (soon after Nasheed, Saeed and Kashyap’s visit) in an extraordinary diplomatic gesture to convey to PM Modi that ‘India first’ has been, still is and will forever be the cornerstone of Male’s foreign policy priorities. See the reports on the special envoy’s talks with the Indian leadership on January 11 in New Delhi — here, here and here.)

A hot summer lies ahead for Indian diplomacy since elections are due in the Maldives and Yameen will pull out all the stops to consolidate his position. Delhi’s approach should be ditto what the UPA government took when Sheikh Hasina got re-elected as prime minister in January 2014 in Bangladesh – the boycott of the main opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the abysmally low voter turnout (22%) notwithstanding. We had rejected Washington’s entreaties to join its campaign to arm-twist Hasina and get a ‘pro-American’ leadership installed in Dhaka.

But the heart of the matter is that times have changed during the past three years. The Indian establishment seemed to think that what was good for Uncle Sam was ditto what India should work for and that all that crap about ‘strategic autonomy’ had become archaic. Basically, bureaucrats had a field day setting their own agenda in the absence of assertive political leadership.

We should never have entertained Kashyap and Brookings India (franchise of a notorious American think tank of Cold War vintage with links to the US intelligence) should never have sponsored activities directed against India’s friendly neighbors. We do not realize that India’s small neighbors take us very seriously and read meanings and motives into our behavior.

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Silenced stones mark hard path to Sri Lankan reconciliation

Security forces have erected numerous monuments celebrating their 2009 victory over Tamil Tiger rebels. No such privilege has been accorded to the Tamil insurgents or civilians who died in the fight

A monument to Sri Lanka’s civil war victims. Photo: Duncan McCargo
By Duncan McCargo | Asia Times | July 26, 2017

An eerie art installation near an idyllic Sri Lankan beach symbolizes many of the contradictions of this post-war society, comprising a sculpture of a man carrying his brutalized daughter, an old suitcase full of clothes and a small ‘graveyard’ punctuated by tiny stones.

The core sculpture was inaugurated on May 18, 2016 – the seventh anniversary of the end of the decades–long civil war, which the Sri Lankan government celebrates as a day of victory over the Tamil insurgent

One year later, police obtained a court order preventing Father Elil Rajendram, the Tamil Jesuit priest behind the project (and an activist and co-spokesperson for the Tamil Civil Society Forum), from presiding over a ceremony to add some stones bearing the names of people who had died during the war.

The following day, after a legal challenge mounted by Kumaravadivel Guruparan, head of the law department at Jaffna University, the court decreed that the ceremony could only take place within the premises of the nearby church. The name-bearing stones have since remained out of public view, while Father Elil was questioned by the authorities on four separate occasions.

The police claimed that some of those memorialized might be members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist group, better known as the Tamil Tigers, although Guruparan argued that commemorating the names of deceased LTTE members was not banned under any Sri Lankan law.

In the event, the police proved unable to confirm that any of the names were actually those of LTTE members: they were simply acting on suspicion.

Sri Lanka – War grave markers – Duncan McCargo – July 2017

A cemetery of stone markers inscribed with the names of victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Photo: Duncan McCargo

Mullivaaikaal, the beach in question, lies at the heart of ‘the cage’, a narrow isthmus where the remnants of the Tamil Tigers were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan army in the bloody culmination of a long-running civil war in May 2009. Tens of thousands of people were killed in what the government still refers to as a ‘humanitarian’ operation.

Sri Lankan security forces have erected numerous monuments to celebrate their victory and to recognize their war dead, but no such privilege has been accorded to those from the LTTE, nor to the Tamil civilians who perished during the fighting.

In refusing to allow ordinary families to honor or even to remember their dead, Sri Lankan authorities claim they are responding to pressure from hardline Buddhist groups who insist that brutal terrorists are not entitled to such decencies.

The outspoken Chief Minister of the Northern Province, former Supreme Court Justice Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Vigneswaran, has been the one of the loudest elected voices for the Tamil cause in recent years.

This writer asked why he couldn’t erect a memorial to the Tamil war dead right in front of his office (there is a handy patch of waste ground right next to the gate), but he answered rather melodramatically that if he pushed too hard on this issue, even he could be taken into custody: the government has made holding meetings about memorials hard enough, let alone building them.

I later had chance to ask a senior military commander why the memorialization issue was so sensitive. While acknowledging that during many years of fighting the army had developed ‘a bit of an arrogant mindset’, he insisted that negative sentiments of people and politicians in the South were now the main obstacle to any memorial to Tamil victims or LTTE fighters, rather than military obstructionism.

Nevertheless, he personally believed such memorials should be possible in the future. Meanwhile, he noted, progress had been made – until recently, even private memorial ceremonies were banned, not just public commemorations.

The 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka remains a subject of intense controversy. But since the more compromising and pragmatic President Maithripala Sirisena assumed power in early 2015 with the support of the country’s Tamil minority, reconciliation has figured prominently in public discourse.

The incoming government established the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), chaired by the redoubtable former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Numerous worthy unity and reconciliation projects have been initiated, focusing on areas such as youth exchanges, vocational training, agricultural livelihoods and the construction of new homes for those displaced during the conflict.

Yet in the Northern Province – an overwhelmingly Tamil region where much of the fighting took place – local people remain skeptical about development-oriented, top-down reconciliation projects that are largely conceived and implemented by the bureaucracy and security forces. Among recurrent local concerns are missing persons, military land occupation and memorialization.

Critical observers, such as human rights activist Ruki Fernando, argue that until these core issues are addressed, token projects will do little to assuage Tamil frustrations with the state. He argues that rather than exercising leadership, the Colombo government has become the captive of the military and Buddhist hardliners.

During the civil war, huge numbers of people were driven out of their homes in the North and East of the country. When they tried to return after 2009, many found their land occupied by the military. In the Jaffna peninsula alone, the military currently holds more than 10,000 acres of land, around half of it used for bases.

The military points to progress in releasing occupied land, but insists that for security reasons the process has to be incremental.

In recent months, there has been a mushrooming of protest encampments by villagers seeking the return of their property from security forces. These round-the-clock vigils illustrate a remarkable opening up of political space in Sri Lanka: they would have been unthinkable during the time of hardline former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Yet while they have attracted some attention from the media and Tamil political parties, and in a few cases have won concessions from the military, most of the protests are being quietly ignored. Similar vigils have been established in other locations to demand information about those who went missing during the war.

Since 1994, the government has received more than 65,000 complaints relating to missing persons: in the absence of death certificates, their surviving relatives face serious problems over access to bank accounts, inheritance and re-marriage.

A major government initiative is needed to resolve these issues, but so far efforts to address them have been piecemeal; the president only finally approved the establishment of a long–promised Office of Missing Persons on July 20.

Land, missing persons and monuments are important examples of reconciliation-related issues. All highlight the importance of granting agency and authority to victims in a post-war order like Sri Lanka’s. Similar challenges have dogged other post-conflict societies such as that of Northern Ireland: education and development projects can only go so far, if sensitive core concerns remain unaddressed.

While the international community is now pressing for large-scale transitional justice initiatives in Sri Lanka, neither a hybrid tribunal nor a truth commission will be easy to realize. In the meantime, displaying the names of some Tamil war victims near a Northern beach might be one small place to start.

Duncan McCargo is the author of Tearing Apart the Land (2008), a study of the Southern Thai conflict

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Why The Netherlands Just Banned Non-Commercial Use Of Monsanto’s Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

By Arjun Walia | Collective Evolution | May 30, 2015

The Netherlands has just become the latest country, following Russia, Mexico, and many others, to say no to Monsanto. The sale and use of glyphosate-based herbicides (the most commonly used herbicides in the world) has just been banned for non-commercial use in the country, effective later this year. This means that people will no longer be able to spray RoundUp on their lawns and gardens and will instead have to find another (hopefully more natural) means of pest control.

This is definitely a step in the right direction.

The move comes as no surprise, considering that the number of countries around the world who are choosing to ban this product is growing at an exponential rate. Bans and restrictions are being implemented due to the fact that glyphosate (the main ingredient in RoundUp) has been directly linked to several major health issues, including: birth defects, nervous system damage, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, various forms of cancer, and kidney failure. (Sri Lanka recently cited deadly kidney disease as their reason for banning his product. You can read more about that and access the research here.) Indeed, The World Health Organization recently acknowledged the fact that glyphosate can cause cancer, and you can read more about that here.

Not only that, there are multiple environmental concerns associated with the use of this chemical.

What’s even more disturbing is the fact that studies have shown that RoundUp herbicide is over one hundred times more toxic than regulators claim. For example, a new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International shows that Roundup herbicide is 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation. You can read more about that here. The eye opening abstract reads as follows:

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines. Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.  Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.” (source)

Equally disturbing is the fact that RoundUp has been found in a very high percentage of air and rainfall test samples. You can read more about that here.

Significant concentrations of it have also been found in the urine of people across Europe, you can read more about that here.

One recent study published in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology has now proven that animals and humans who consume GMO foods – those that are loaded with glyphosate chemicals, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp – have extremely high levels of glyphosate in their urine.

It’s also noteworthy to mention that there are Wikileaks documents showing how the United States planned to “retaliate and cause pain” on countries who were refusing GMOs. You can read more about that story and view those documents here.

It’s troubling to think that so many children are within proximity of and playing on lawns that have been sprayed with this stuff. Cancer is not a mystery, it is not a stroke of bad luck, it’s time for the world to wake up and realize what research has been confirming for years.

More Information on Pesticides & Herbicides Here:

**There are also multiple articles linked within the article above that provide more information**

Scientists Link Autism To These Toxic Chemicals During Fetal Development

Another Groundbreaking Study Emerges Linking Agricultural Pesticides To Autism

Scientists Can Predict Your Pesticide Exposure Based On How Much You Eat

This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Switch To Organic Food

What Parents Need To Know About Monsanto: “By 2025 One In Two Children Will Be Autistic”

Monsanto’s Glyphosate Linked To Birth Defects

Groundbreaking Study Links Monsanto’s Glyphosate To Cancer

New Study Links Gmos To Cancer, Liver/Kidney Damage & Severe Hormonal Disruption

Multiple Toxins From GMOs Detected In Maternal And Fetal Blood

Sources Used:

http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/04/04/dutch-parliament-bans-glyphosate-herbicides-non-commercial-use/#.VWcpp1xVhBd

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka: Who’s behind anti-Muslim violence?

PressTVGlobalNews | June 24, 2013

The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has shocked the world and drawn attention to rising Islamophobia in Asia. Now Muslims in Sri Lanka are under dire threat as well.

The similarities with Myanmar are striking and foreboding. Buddhist monks are at the forefront of the rising hatred, the government is taking sides against Muslims and attacks have begun.

Full scale violence is threatening to break out to create another catastrophe for Muslims in the region. There have already been a series of attacks on mosques and Muslim places of work.

Hard line, ultra nationalist groups led by Buddhist monks such as Buddhist Strength Force (BBS) and Sinhala Echo preach the same message as those of the Buddhist Rakhine in Myanmar: “Muslims are taking over, they are building too many mosques and are trying to destroy our culture.”

On this week’s INFocus we document the rising crisis in Sri Lanka and attempt to bring the world’s attention to the issue before it’s too late.

I

II

The Sri Lankan Defense Secretary recently gave his support to the monks. “It is the monks who protect this country, religion and race” he stated.

He also cautioned the ultra nationalist groups not to promote “communal hatred.” But this communiqué was delivered in English, not in Sinhala.

On this week’s INFocus, which is a sequel for last week’s episode, we try to understand the reason behind this rising hatred and where the blame truly lies.

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

South – South trade may withstand global recession

Indian and Latin American cooperation

Claudia Fonseca Sosa | Granma | December 13, 2012

THIS year, India has shown a notable interest in increasing its economic relations with Latin American countries. Given the serious crisis in the Eurozone and the deceleration of the U.S. economy, nations south of the Rio Bravo are demonstrating greater macroeconomic stability and represent a major growing market.

For example, Brazil, the principal regional buyer of Indian products and the second-largest supplier to the country, increased imports from the Asian giant by 66.2% on the first seven months of 2012. Mexico, the second largest buyer and fourth Latin American exporter to India, raised its exports to the country by 72.1% in the first half of the year.

Other Latin American nations, essentially exporters of raw materials, also have a secure market in India at a time of financial instability. Indian business executives predict that, by 2014, bi-regional trade will be double that of 2011.

However, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that economic links with Latin America could be more developed, and thus exceed the current trade volume of $25 billion, an insufficient figure and equal to 10% of Chinese economic exchange with the region.

The Indian economy is historically based on manufactured goods and agriculture, being one of the principal world producers of sugar cane, cotton and jute. But in recent decades the country has diversified and developed into sectors such as space and aeronautics research, informatics, telecommunications, electronics, medicine, oil and natural gas.

In fact, India’s dynamic industrial development has caught the attention of companies worldwide, leading to the establishment of subsidiaries in the country, which possess a large qualified workforce.

As a member of the group of emerging economies, BRICS, together with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, India contributes half of global economic growth. In 2011, its Gross Domestic Product grew by over 8%.

In June 2012, a ministerial representation from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Community (CELAC) had a meeting in New Delhi with Indian government officials, during which both sides expressed a mutual interest in extending political relations and economic ones in particular. It was the first time that CELAC, comprising 33 countries in the region, had negotiated abroad as a bloc.

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See also:

Iran, Brazil Trade Balance Hits $2.4bln

Sri Lanka proposes barter trade with Iran

Pakistan, Iran to open a new market near border

Belarus to Get $600 Mln in Loans from China

Chinese MP: Beijing Welcomes Expansion of All-out Ties with Tehran

Diplomat: Iran-Iraq Trade Ties to Surpass $12bln

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka’s only refinery closes due to US sanctions against Iran

Press TV – October 28, 2012

Sri Lanka has closed down its only refinery, Sapugaskanda, as the sanctions imposed against Iran’s energy sector by the US have taken a toll on the South Asian country’s crude imports.

“Since August due to strict adherence to US sanctions, our letters of credit for imports have stopped being accepted,” Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayantha said on Wednesday.

The Sapugaskanda refinery, which has a capacity of 50,000 barrels a day and is geared only to process Iranian crude, shut down its operations earlier this week due to not receiving oil supplies from Iran.

Premajayantha said this week that Sri Lanka’s cumulative loss from the US sanctions against importing Iranian crude was a staggering $1.2 billion.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the EU approved new sanctions against Iran’s oil and financial sectors. The embargoes aim to prevent other countries from purchasing Iranian oil or transacting with the Central Bank of Iran.

The US and the EU have declared that the bans are meant to force Iran to abandon its nuclear energy program, which they claim includes a military component.

Iran has vehemently refuted the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment