Lessons unlearnt
Posted on November 13th, 2011

Courtesy The Island   Editorial

Norway seems to have sought to counter a perceived attempt by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt Commission (LLRC) to blame Oslo for the collapse of the disastrous ‘peace’ deal (2002-2009). Ahead of the submission of the LLRC report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Norway has released the findings by its version of a lessons learnt commission in a report titled, Pawns of peace-Evaluation of Norwegian Peace Efforts in Sri Lanka, 1997-2009. (The executive summary of the Norwegian report refers to ‘some broader lessons for peace-building elsewhere'””…”””…”emphasis added.)

The Norwegian report indited in INGO lingo is full of bauble or gewgaws, which glitter without illuminating; it sheds no light on anything. Full of words, it lacks substance. It only recycles and regurgitates what is already known to us about Sri Lanka’s failed peace process and obfuscates the main issues that led to the failure thereof.

There are several reasons why Sri Lanka’s ‘peace’ process failed. One was Norway’s partiality to the LTTE, which made it anathema to the majority of Sri Lankans abhorring terrorism. It crafted the now infamous ceasefire agreement in such a way that the LTTE could gain parity of status vis-ƒÆ’†’ -vis the Sri Lankan state and a great deal of international legitimacy for its cause; consolidate its power in the entire North and East without firing a single shot on the pretext of doing political work and infiltrate other parts of the country with ease. The LTTE’s strategy was to take advantage of the CFA to retrain, regroup, rearm and, above all, to move its big guns into positions close to Trincomalee and Palali. It was planning to pound and disable those nerve centres simultaneously, sever the sea and air supply routes to the North, trap the troops in that part of the country and force the government to concede defeat. In fact, the LTTE implemented that plan albeit with delay; shells fell on the Trincomalee harbour and the Palali airfield following the resumption of hostilities, but the military had taken precautions by that time thanks to the naval intelligence which had alerted the government to the impending danger. It was the LTTE’s military preparations that led to pressure being ratcheted up by the security forces and anti-terror activists on President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who finally sacked the UNF government in 2004 and recaptured power in Parliament electorally, an event which would mark the beginning of the end of the ‘peace process’ and the LTTE.

That the CFA was heavily weighted in favour of the LTTE was obvious even to the UNP-led UNF government (2001-2004). The then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, it may be recalled, refrained from shaking hands with Norwegian Ambassador at that time, Jon Westborg, after the signing of the CFA in 2002.

The CFA had all the trappings of the Machakos Protocol (MP) signed in Kenya in 2002 between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army with the US, the UK and Italy as observers. That protocol set in motion a process which paved the way for a UN-backed international intervention that led to the division of Sudan.

If Prabhakaran had adhered to the Norwegian-crafted CFA without carrying out mine attacks on the security forces personnel and plunging feet first into Mavil Aru, as it were, thereby forcing the government to respond militarily, the stage would have been set for a UN involvement in Sri Lanka as in Sudan and the “ƒ”¹…”peace process’ would have yielded the intended results.

Norway laments that its ‘peace’ mission in Sri Lanka did not have enough backing from the world powers. But, it had the unstinted support of the US, the EU and Japan. And they (including Norway) banded together as the Tokyo Co-chairs and tied aid to Sri Lanka to progress to be made in talks with the LTTE thus putting the UNF government in a straitjacket and forcing it to subjugate the country’s sovereignty to the whims and fancies of the Tokyo Co-chairs and appease the LTTE at any cost for fear of losing much needed aid. That aid pledge was never honoured and that was the reason why Sri Lanka had to look elsewhere for financial assistance and was finally in a position to take on the LTTE militarily.

Norway’s special peace envoy Eric Solheim and the truce monitors backed the LTTE to the hilt compelling the Sri Lankans abhorring terrorism to elect a regime capable of standing up to the LTTE. The blame for the failure of the “ƒ”¹…”peace’ process should be apportioned to Solheim and other Tiger backers.

The LTTE became a puppet in the hands of some western powers and India did not want a terrorist outfit which was at the beck and call of the West to carve out a separate state in its backyard. It was not devolution that the LTTE sought through the ‘peace’ process; it wanted a halfway house between federalism and secession. Hence, its demand for an interim self-governing authority (ISGA) and subsequent unilateral withdrawal from talks! Even Deputy Secretary of State at that time Richard Armitage as well as Chris Pattern happened to remark, “The ISGA far exceeds the Oslo Accord and does not resemble any kind of known federalism.” Therefore, it was only natural that India had to help Sri Lanka neutralise the LTTE.

The discerning people of this country cannot be duped into believing that Norway’s ‘peace’ effort stemmed from altruism and it came a cropper due to circumstances beyond that country’s control. Norway went all out to help the LTTE with its separatist project but Prabhakaran made a string of huge military miscalculations and cooked his goose in style.

Norway cannot absolve itself of the responsibility for the LTTE’s crimes which it aided and abetted. Nor can the other members of the Tokyo Co-chairs! They treated the LTTE with indulgence in spite of its 3,000 odd CFA violations including the assassination of Sri Lanka’s illustrious Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. Had they given the LTTE a choice between settling for a peaceful solution acceptable to all stake holders and being made to pay for its terrorism, Prabhakaran would have been left with no alternative but to fall in line. They did not do so because they used the LTTE as a cat’s paw and the ‘peace’ process as a Trojan horse to further their geopolitical interests, unwittingly forcing, in the process, Sri Lanka to react the way it did. That was the main reason why their ‘peace’ bid failed.


3 Responses to “Lessons unlearnt”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Norway had lot of oil money.But, it did not have that much of recognition in the world because it is a small country. So, Norway tried to earn that recognition by involving in peace making between fighting factions. Yet, they did not understand the Asian mentality and how Asians handle problems.

    So, I think, with this report, they evaluated what they have done wrong and where they went wrong with this report.

    LTTE screwed up Norway and tried to use Norway. Because, Norway had all the elements that LTTE would look from a country. It was a small christian country with lot of western backing and LTTE could manipulate their decision making with block votes.

    I hope Norway understood this time.

  2. radha Says:

    ” …….. Sri Lanka, a tiny toddler in a vast field of big-boy’s games, dared post a goal after ducking between the big-boy’s legs while their back was turned. …”

    Actually big-boys were very much awake and watching. Remember the two western foreign ministers failed mission to impose their rules of the game for the others, but not for themselves. That’s why they have turned pale and now harrassing us. Can’t take it!

    Good job that MR did not go to Ox-bridge for his political studies; otherwise he would have been brainwashed to follow their thinking. Instead we have a home-bred leader who cares for national interests.

  3. Vis8 Says:

    Norway has become a haven for ltte terrorists. Norwegians welcomed them for money and votes….now they can have them.

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