Biswal came looking for Government’s Opponents Delivered Nothing New
Posted on February 4th, 2014

By Bandu de Silva

A former President of U.S. declared that Assistant Secretaries were there to implement policy decisions that he makes as President with the help of others. That was an assertive President. However, former State Secretary, Henry Kissinger, was not so assertive when he conceded while addressing new recruits to the Foreign Service that they had a contribution to make in policy formulation.

Let us not get too involved in these definitions the emphasis over which seems to vary depending on who is at the top. As we have seen under Robert Blake, former Assistant Secretary for South Asia and Central Asia in the US hierarchy and now with Nisha Biswal at the same post for a few months, officials at this post, what others may call “Desk-Officers” in their own establishments, do make a contribution to policy formation. The difference in US is that they are free to go public in contrast to others who work behind the scene. The fact that the US Embassy in Colombo reportedly sought a meeting for Biswal with President Mahinda Rajapaksa also points to her enhanced role.   

Biswal’s Visit

Biswal’s visit to Sri Lanka was obviously not a bilaterally arranged one, though the government was kept informed. It was an initiative on the part of the US State Department, if not one by the new Assistant Secretary, herself. The Sri Lankan government may have not been averse to the visit as it is open to visitors of high rank, and one especially from a country which has set its agenda to question Sri Lanka‘s performance at the war against LTTE terrorists which ended near five years ago. She had a closed-door discussion with External Affairs Minister, G.L.Peiris, but that there was no joint press communiqu© as usual during a bilaterally arranged visit, indicated the unilateral origin of the visit. 

The dossier on Sri Lanka at the state Department is a well established one. There was nothing wanting. The US Ambassador in Colombo had filled the details on a day to day basis. She had even taken up the issue of attacks on houses of prayer which American Evangelists are opening up with impunity transgressing the country’s regulations. The rowing Ambassador Rapp himself had visited the island recently and met whom he wanted to meet, especially, the Chief Minister of NPC and members of TNA and others.  Just a few days back, Lalith Weeratunge, President’s Secretary had met her and briefed her.  Consequently, there was not much need for the new Assistant Secretary to discuss with the government of Sri Lanka but perhaps, she was looking for ways of support for a new initiative by US to carry forwards its tirade against Sri Lanka at the forthcoming Geneva UNHCR session.

No Departure

There has been no departure from the days of her predecessor Robert Blake, who of course, had the advantage of carrying local knowledge, having served in New Delhi as Deputy and in Colombo as Ambassador. So it can be agreed that a visit on the part of the new Assistant Secretary was not out of place at this time, when a resolution under the sponsorship of US is looming large. She herself could make her own assessment about how strongly the Resolution needs to be worded to meet the aspirations of influencing forces in the Diaspora, NGOs and others and to draw attention away from US’s own deficit in human rights and humanitarian issues when dealing with war situations in which the US was the main belligerent party as in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to speak of earlier crimes in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Equally well, she could assess if she could collect arguments to counter opposition to a strong resolution from other member countries ” that is what Ambassador Rapp feared might happen and reportedly conveyed to TNA leadership – which would be prepared to go along with the US to some extent but not to press for a strong resolution.

Biswal’s New Link

Biswal obviously saw the prospects of a link with the newly formed NPC which has recently resolved to press for an international investigation into the happenings on the last days of the Eelam War, and its outspoken Chief Minister as well as other prominent Tamils like Bishop Saundaranayagam  advantageous. There was then really nothing new for Biswal to talk with representatives of the government. Her task was mainly in Jaffna.

Even India which country has skeletons in the cupboard in Kashmir and Assam and Nagaland, which have not been taken up by any Diaspora as strong as the Tamil Diaspora overseas, would hesitate to go for the kill on a resolution on Sri Lanka  despite pressure from Tamil Nadu. India’s own record against the plebiscite mandated by the UN General Assembly hangs like the Sword of Damocles over her head.

Highlights of Jaffna Visit.

In Jaffna, besides having discussions with the Chief Minister of NPC, Biswal  also had a separate meeting with Ananthi Srithharan and reportedly promised her strong action by the US. That is the highlight of her visit, the meeting with the wife of a former terrorist leader of the LTTE, an organization which is still on the banned list of Terrorist groups in US. If Ambassador Sisson had reservations in view of local sensitivities about a separate meeting by her with Ananthi Sritharan without any discretion ” this only a suggestion though it may not reflect the high-handedness surround US diplomacy when it comes to weak countries, – the Assistant Secretary has now done the needful and set the precedence for the US Ambassador herself. That meeting could be one initiated by the Ambassador herself.  In Switzerland, another small country, they would have called such an encounter, “Meeting our enemies’ (see my Article “Gota Has A Case”, Ceylon Today, Friday, 31 January 2014), and considered serious action affecting diplomatic relations.

Secretary Weeratunge’s Mission to US

            President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunge’s mission to Geneva and Washington was largely to explain the progress made on the LLRC recommendations and to show that any attempt to press with a resolution demanding an international investigation could unleash unexpected chaos in Sri Lanka.  This last aspect has all the more relevance with the NPC passing a Resolution calling for an independent international investigation of the role of the government and Jaffna Bishop making a similar call. The ramifications of these actions in the North supported by the international community are unpredictable.

            Weeratunge carried out his mission efficiently and delivered it with finesse as far as his immediate objective was concerned. His explanation of progress made on LLRC recommendations and problem areas needing more time would have convinced any impartial audience. He had a session with Biswal before she left for Sri Lanka. However, how effective this mission was, in convincing a client like US which has set its objectives and is not prepared to back-track from its first call for reconciliation and accountability, in the last days of the war, appears to be very doubtful. This is clear from what Biswal told the media in Colombo that “lack of progress” in Sri Lanka has frustrated her government and the international community ”.  That was a position she was expressing even before she met Weeratunge and now continues with it even after the meeting. So, it is “lack of progress” for US as against Weeratunge’s claim of progress.

In other words, Weeratunge’s  representations have had no effect on the US  government. Nevertheless, it is important that the point was made. It would be wrong, however, to believe that it could produce the expected magic as far as US is concerned.

            Obviously, the US took notice that some progress had been made in the implementation of LRRC recommendations on reconciliation and accountability which was the target first set by US initially and repeated again last year, but for Biswal to speak of “lack of progress” shows that US government is not prepared to look at the progress made positively but as a whole, including motives.  This is partly understandable as till Weeratunge took it up as challenge, there had been no serious attempt to explain that that the implementation of LLRC recommendations support for which was US’s expectations so far had been undertaken. But it would now seem that the US position is an incremental one, and did not stop with LLRC.

To admit that positively encouraging results are seen would also  make the US case to press with a strong resolution with added support coming from Britain this time, and stop uncommitted countries veering round to a resolution to give more time to Sri Lanka , weaker.   

Biswal had told the media that the international community’s patience is wearing thin. Her saying that the “U.S. will sponsor a resolution asking Sri Lanka to do more on reconciliation and accountability at the U.N. Human Rights Council in March” could be a pointer that US is now ready to place its stakes at a point above the LLRC recommendations though it  is not very clear from her statement whether or not, she meant full implementation of the recommendations of LLRC or wanted more done  on reconciliation and accountability.

New Strategy

More pointedly, Biswal has added new  dimension to US demands this time by her reference to post war developments in the island much of which have nothing or very little to do with the war situation or matters arising from it. This is the reference to the “worsening of the human rights situation in the country”. She made special reference to growing religious intolerance and attacks on places of religious worship; and increase in corruption.

Of course, as in the case of other allegations which the US, like others, have taken at face value, she has had no intention of discussing why such tensions arise. These were later explained by External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris as few cases and sporadic and arising from provocations caused  especially by American Evangelists in conducting prayer and “heeling sessions”  in areas predominated by other religionists.

The objective of the US intention in  raising these other issues at this session seems to be to widen the scope of allegations to  include other post-war situations of human rights violations which could include alleged attack on media personnel and religious intolerance. Such widening of the scope seems to be a definitive strategy to attract wider support from member countries in UNCHR for a “stronger” US Resolution. Obviously, predominantly Christian countries such as those in Latin America and Muslim countries seem to be targeted.    

No Call on President- No Issue

Sections of the media here have tried to make out an issue over the President’s office not responding to a request by the US Embassy for the visitor to call on H.E.the President. There is no issue over it at all. The visit was not a bilaterally arranged one.  Besides, it is height of expectation for an Embassy to expect that any official visitor from US is worthy of a call on the head of State of another country, however small the country may be, whatever the pressures which the other country undergoes at a time. Such things are governed by reciprocity.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is, personally, a very amiable person and at times, could be expected to do the unpredictable, like visiting the Residence of the former Indian lady High Commissioner, Nirupama Rao [within respectable hours, and in full glare of public eye, of course].  Whatever one says, Rao was a successful Indian diplomat here who was able to establish such a close personal rapport. When the media questioned it at the time, I wrote that such cases were not unusual though rare and cited the case of a US President. All depends on circumstances. Western Embassies, especially, of the US, could be misunderstanding this Sri Lankan disposition to forget the bounds demanded by Protocol.

Even if the President was willing to cast aside Protocol to meet an Assistant Secretary of US, the US side did not create the conducive atmosphere for it. The problem was on the US side. Here, the visitor had just met what the Swiss called “our enemies,” namely, Ananthi Sridharan and even promised to take a strong stand by US. That was encouragement to her, the wife of a former LTTE terrorist leader, whose bona fides are not so clear. She had also met the Bishop of Jaffna who had reportedly demanded an international investigation on the role of the Sri Lankan government, besides listening to the Chief Minister and members of the NPC who had just passed a resolution requesting an international investigation. The NCP is already shown interfering with external matters which affect the centre.

Embassies  try to impress their own official visitors. Our London High Commission once failed to arrange a meeting for former President Kumaratunga with the British Foreign Secretary. I recall, she had to be content with a meeting with a lower official. To avoid embarrassment, the meeting had to be arranged at the Sri Lanka High Commission. Likewise, former Foreign Minister, ACS Hamid who wanted to call on the French foreign Minister every time he came to France, was able to call on Mr.Guirango, a former career officer elevated as Foreign Minister, just once. That too as favour to me as I had been in close contact with him earlier.  I was Minister of the Embassy for six years  (Ambassador rank) and Charge’d’Affaires at the time.  This is what happens when unsolicited visits are undertaken; or attempts are made to link private visits with official work. In these Western countries they inform you, that they believe in conducting bilateral relations through normal diplomatic channels.

There is a competent US Ambassador here though sadly, what we have in Washington is just the opposite, as far as representation on the country’s point of view is concerned. That is our main problem: our messages not getting through to Washington. That is another thing.

The crux of the matter is that there was no issue over Biswal not seeing the President.

Government’s Reaction

Judging from External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris’ s post-visit comments, it would appear that the Minister thought that the outcome of the visit and what  Biswal stated at the media conference were not conducive to bi-lateral relations between the two countries, [whatever its outcome to US may be]. The press communiqu© issued by the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs is very terse indeed. Whether or not, this reflects the prospects of a growing policy shift in dealing with the US bilaterally remains to be seen. Sri Lanka is not Iran or North Korea, or even India, as the strong Indian response over recent affair of the US Marshals hand-cuffing and body-searching the Indian female Deputy Consul-General in New York indicated, to engage US in an  adversarial manner but as US observers themselves point out Sri Lanka could be tempted to push in other directions.    

US Pacific Command’s Interest

The other indication of the Sri Lankan government trying to distance away from US, as seen by the media, is the rejection by the Cabinet of offer by US Pacific Command (USPACOM) to build three full-fledged schools in the North. Despite the humanitarian programme of this Military Command, its very composition as an US Army, Navy and Air Force operation headed by the US President himself with other Commanders included in the hierarchy, cannot conceal its strategic objectives, in the final analysis.

It is puzzling how the Minister of Education came to seek Cabinet approval for a proposal made by the Minister of Education, Cultural Affairs and Sports of NPC when there is no evidence that the US Embassy which liaises with USPACOM on this matter had first got policy clearance from the Sri Lankan government. Like the Embassy setting up a US Information counter in the Trincomalee Municipality some time back, these are insidious ways in which US works at times. In the past, US Asia Foundation was working for such purposes at a different level, as I knew as the official who monitored its activities until it was finally closed down in mid 1960s.  I know the devious ways in which it worked. It had even engaged a former senior member of the LSSP in its staff!

            In the first place it points to the extent of the US Embassy is proceeding to negotiate issues with Provincial Councils without the knowledge of Colombo. This has nothing to do with the US resolution to be tabled in Geneva or Biswal’s negative comments made in her media presentation where she brought up issues which were not directly related to the war situation which had hitherto been the main issue. The offer by the US PACIFIC has serious strategic implications for the country and on that account alone, needed careful scrutiny by the Defence authorities particularly because of the past situation and the entry that US Pacific Command could have to these parts.

Security Concerns

How sensitive India considered it In the past, when facilities were offered to Voice of America Radio station at Iranwilla and on India’s insistence, certain facilities had  to be re-negotiated, again, when  US ships began calling over at Trincomalee for R & R purposes, and India objecting to the Trincomalee Oil Storage Wells being given to US firms during President JR Jayewardene’s regime, and later, to the proposal to install Chinese radars being installed at Palali airport, should stand as reminders of the regional sensitivities. India had reasons to be concerned in consideration of her own security, and that is understandable.

The offer of three schools might look innocent in comparison, but the issue is the access it gives to US Pacific Command in a security-wise sensitive region for Sri Lanka, which received foreign armed support for Tamil terrorist groups. President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s attempted sale of the phosphate resource at Eppawala to a US company too looked innocent had certain security implications. The Agreement could have given access to US to a Us firm in Trincomalee with its own Air Port at Trincomalee processing area with permission for unimpeded travel by US personnel without subject to local immigration and Customs control, an area to which no Sri Lankan government official or vehicles had access even to investigate a crime, as the Agreement provided. These are situations whose security implications one tends to overlook when an offer is tempting to make some quick  personal benefit. In other words, when corruption creeps in.   

Of greater relevance is the fact that the door is being opened for Provincial administrations to conduct direct negotiations on bilateral issues, notably, on foreign aid which is a sensitive issue because of the ramifications on security dimensions and imbalances which could be caused in overall development in the country. Concerns over such imbalances was something that aid donor countries have always expressed over many decades as I am familiar with.  

Visa Refusal

Another incident which comes in the immediate aftermath of the Biswal affair and Ambassador Sisson’s own recent aggressive diplomatic manifestations, – cover up for diplomatic deficit seen among female US Ambassadors to Sri Lanka in very recent times, to be in the news, as I conceive ” is the reported refusal by the Sri Lankan government to another high-profile US Ambassador-at-large for Women’s issues, Catherine Russel, which it would appear the US Embassy has revealed to the media. Whatever may be the ostensible purpose of her visit as revealed by the US Embassy which also includes a visit to Jaffna, like Biswal’s visit there which formed the highlight her programme, as cleverly guided by Ambassador Sisson, Russel’ visit could have turned into another such Sisson directed affair, with Ananthi Sritharan at the centre, which seems to be the Ambassador’s present preoccupation. Do not ask me if I have spoilt my eyes on the Ambassador’s  personal Diary, but this is the writing on the wall any seasoned observer could recocgnize. Besides, wasn’t Russel closely associated with former State Secretary Hillary Clinton’s rape story over Sri Lanka, where She (Russel) perforce, omitted the rapes by US forces in Okinawa, which I had to subsequently point out. At least, I recall her defending Clinton on her statement.  

Why does US want to add to the theatre by sending these high profile visitors when its mind is already set on a target? Wasn’t that clear from Biswal’s own tour-programme of Jaffna and London?            

In Conclusion

What success did Biswal then carry back home and to London where she stopped over on the way back to compare notes, and report to Cameron of her bagging new friends in Jaffna ”C/M Wigneswaram, Bishop Saudranayagam and Ananathi Sritharan ,the wife of the former LTTE terrorist leader, et al? She did not deliver anything new to the government of Sri Lanka which was unknown earlier. She did not speak of problems facing a strong resolution but indications were that US might initially word a strong resolution which might deviate from the earlier stand of a home-grown inquiry, or make proviso for such if no credible process was set in motion within a given time frame. That is what the UK government was aiming at. Her visit was then drama to attract attention and to demonstrate to the world that US was not doing anything behind the back of Sri Lanka. 

If the US decides to use local Tamil support expressed to Biswal for an international inquiry to back a Resolution, its ramifications on the country are difficult to predict. Weeratunge used the word ‘chaos’. That could be what US and others are looking for. The entire record of US in recent times in the Middle East, Maghreb and Asia is nothing but destabilization either to promote her economic interests as in Iraq and Libya and geopolitical interest as in Afghanistan, by creating chaos.  Sri Lanka falls into the latter category. If US considers it success then it falls into line.

For the present Biswal has said she does not think there will moves to apply sanctions, but it was not a clear-cut statement. However, application of sanctions on a global scale has to be approved by the UN Security Council. There are obvious difficulties on such a course of action. Unilateral application of sanctions is feasible and can hurt to some extent but the general consensus is against sanctions because of the tremendous humanitarian issues it involves, like the suffering it brings about to the people. In Iraq over million children lost their lives through mal-nutrition on account of sanctions applied. So did many mothers. A draft resolution incorporating sanctions is not only a usurpation by UNHCR, of powers of the Security Council, but also a resolution which incorporates such action will lose general support. That question will not arise, immediately, therefore, if the US, this time strongly supported by U.K. to see her Resolution succeeds.

I will end up with an anecdote to describe the way of diplomacy.  Former President JR Jayewardene who joined the very short list of countries ( I think four or five) which supported UK, on the Falkland vote in the UNGA must be turning in his grave at the way UK is paying back. The shame is I had a midnight call from President’s Foreign Minister, ACS Hamid, not long after, asking me to call on the Argentinian Ambassador in Paris (he was a former representative at the UN) who lived opposite my apartment in Avenue Foch in Paris asking me to see him and get him to stop Argentinian diplomats canvassing against President’s brother, H.W Jayewardene, P.C. who was seeking elections to the International Court of Justice. Of course, the Ambassador received me with full courtesy early morning and we had coffee and breakfast together, he still in his night- gown after a late night return from the Riviera. Whether my remonstrations had any effect I do not know. H.W did not get elected anyway. That is the way of diplomacy.            

22 Responses to “Biswal came looking for Government’s Opponents Delivered Nothing New”

  1. douglas Says:

    The ” sanctions” and “embargoes” must be termed as “GLOBAL TERRORISM” whether it is approved by UNO or “unilaterally” applied because the end result is “HUMAN SUFFERING”. This “suffering” will mostly fall on the innocent viz. the elderly, disabled, women, children and a vast majority of “have no” means to sustain a meagre day to day life. The life of those responsible for any cause that prompted “sanctions” and “embargoes” will definitely continue un altered and it will be the majority mass who will be compelled to fight for them.

    In whatever the way these “sanctions” “embargoes” are enforced it is nothing but “GLOBAL TERRORISM”.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    USA has gone to Endian dogs.

    e.g. Biswal, new Microsoft Chariman Satya, Bikram, many CEOs of US companies, etc.

    SL should put sanctions on Endia! NO import of bajaj junk, Endian oil, Endian CEOs, Endian illegals, Endian other junk.

    We should commend GOSL for refusing visa for another US visitor on women’s affairs. Had she come Ananthi would have been elated.

    Now USA and Russia are going at each other over Ukraine. If Putin has a backbone he should STAND BY Yanukovich and if needed take back Ukraine or one part of it. Global policeman should be knelt down.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    “Former President JR Jayewardene who joined the very short list of countries ( I think four or five) which supported UK, on the Falkland vote in the UNGA must be turning in his grave at the way UK is paying back. ……Of course, the Ambassador received me with full courtesy early morning and we had coffee and breakfast together, he still in his night- gown after a late night return from the Riviera. Whether my remonstrations had any effect I do not know. H.W did not get elected anyway. That is the way of diplomacy.”

    Same thing this time. We meet reps from UNHRC member countries and tell them our story. They go and vote AGAINST us anyway!!

    On the Argentina issue, we have to look at the CONTEXT. Bandu de Silva failed to look at the context.

    1. Faulkland war happened in 1983. When our war started. USA-UK-Israel supported us. Soviets, Endia, Palestine supported Tamil terrorists.
    2. UK was one of our BIGGEST weapons suppliers AT THAT TIME.
    3. UK’s SAS was involved in training our ARMY in 1984. Ghandi tries to stop it but FAILED.
    4. UK also financed our great Maaveli river project and a few power plants construction AT THAT TIME.
    5. UK/US human rights camp didn’t create trouble for SL over July 1983 riot.
    6. Thatcher came to SL soon after that to open river projects. Tamils were AGAINST these projects.

    In the CONTEXT we did the right thing.

    ARGENTINA voted WITH USA/UK and AGAINST SL in 2013 UNHRC.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Jayawardena’s foreign policy experiments were mostly disastrous. His needless support for the British invasion and occupation of Falkland Islands contrary to what most Non Aligned Movement nations did certainly showed the nation in bad light. It was a very immoral act to support the usurper of war and violence.

    On a previous occasion, Jayawardena, Corea and Gotabhaya (RG) Senanayake were involved in a similar act that deprived China of its territory forcibly annexed by Imperial Japan from 1895 to 1945 under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty (SFPT). It was a US and British attempt to deny China its territory. All Independent Asian nations vehemently opposed it except Pakistan and Ceylon. Both paid a heavy price for this short-sighted opportunistic move. It was this that termed him a “Yankee Dickie”.

    The third foreign policy disaster of Jayawardena became evident in 1983 when war commenced. Sri Lanka was without any defence partners. The NATO camp, the Warsaw camp, China and NAM nations refused to help.

    Unable to learn from any of this, Jayawardena’s foreign policy disasters continued. In 1987 yet another disaster struck with the Indian invasion and forced change of the Constitution. Even the Chinese connection of the JVP that caused so much instability in the latter part of his rule can be traced to bad foreign policy. Very high foreign debt with high interest and political cost are other foreign policy debacles of Jayawardena.

    President Rajapaksa must learn from these mistakes and devise a foreign policy based on the new world order. It should sufficiently address national interests towards the west, the east and everything in between. At its heart should be Sri Lankan national interests, not admiration of the American dream or the Palestinian struggle. Every foreign policy decision has associated costs and the nation must bear those costs. The right policy will have the minimum cost to the nation and maximum benefits.

    USA, India and EU will not snap sanctions on Sri Lanka purely for economic reasons (let alone other reasons). Garment exports to USA are not profitable for Sri Lanka as most factors of production are imports. Sri Lanka has nothing much to lose apart from short term employment readjustment. Depriving US GSP to Sri Lanka means production will all go to China which is not what USA and EU want. Indian commercial investments in the island (the highest) will be severely affected in case of sanctions so it is another reason why it will not happen. Since most import industries are dominated by minorities, sanctions will have a higher adverse impact on them and push the nation more towards economic integration with China. Threat of sanctions is a NGO fear tactic with no truth in it. No UNHRC fallout has ever resulted in sanctions.

  5. Sooriarachi Says:

    Sri Lanka is now dealing with a nation, the USA, which is used to acting with impunity and have laws to self justify any human rights violation they commit, within and outside USA, on the pretext of assisting the victim nation to introduce democracy, human rights etc. President Rajapakse’s stance on USA, that is to ignore them as much as possible, is probably the only way to go, as they are in any case hell-bent on regime change and will not accept any version of events, other than what they want to believe. The USA of today is a country that would do what it wants and cares nothing for the truth. It is possible that the recent visits by their representatives, Mr Rapp and Ms Biswal to discover the truth, was indeed a sham and seems more to be visits to fool the International Community, to believe that the USA has taken informed and balanced decisions, though the truth is otherwise. So, President Rajapakse, may not lose anything by not inviting any of these US “fact finders”

  6. Nanda Says:

    “President Rajapaksa must learn from these mistakes and devise a foreign policy based on the new world order.”

    What the ?

    It is the New World Order headed by the world bank, USA , UK, India etc etc giving us all these trouble.

  7. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Please look at what is happening in our region. The US has been quite worked up on the Bangladesh parliament elections which were held a month ago, despite a total boycott from the main opposition party – the Begum Khaleda Zia -ed Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – and its major ally Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh. The US was quite perturbed over India’s support of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and pressured India to persuade Sheikh Hasina to defer elections and accommodate Begum Khaleda Zia in the political process at Zia’s terms. Both Russia and China are with the India mainly because of their concerns about the deadly web of Islamist terrorism that the US policies may weave for Bangladesh. The US envoy in Bangladesh Dan Mozenna paid an unusual visit to India three months ago and held closed-door talks with Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon to use India in persuading Sheikh Hasina to defer the Bangladesh polls till such time major political players in Bangladesh arrive at a common ground. India refused to play ball. The Indians could not stomach Washington’s support of Begum Khaleda Zia, during whose prime ministerial tenure anti-India insurgent forces had thrived on Bangladeshi soil. Begum Khaleda Zia has been seen by India as a stooge of rival Pakistan. India could not afford to score an own-goal by shackling Sheikh Hasina and strengthening the hands of known India-baiter Begum Khaleda Zia. During the tenure of Begum Khaleda Zia her interior minister had warned India not to forget that the Indian northeastern region was “Bangladesh-locked.

  8. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Delhi and Moscow are now working on a deal which would ensure Russian military hardware reaching Afghanistan to fight terrorist forces while Delhi pays for these military supplies. Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Delhi on Dec 12, 2013 – President Hamid Karzais 14th visit to Delhi and his third in 2013. The US had been pressuring the Delhi to use their influence over President Hamid Karzai, an increasingly stubborn person for the US, and persuade him to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US, which would allow the US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The US had been pushing the envelope with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for quite some time over the BSA issue, but had been unsuccessful. James Dobbins, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.said the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would push the country into civil war and warned that such a scenario would lead to a “rise in extremist groups, outflow of refugees and disruptions in commerce that would threaten the region as a whole.” He even took recourse to some harsh words and cautioned President Hamid Karzai thus: “We try to tell him that American opinion isn’t exactly where he thinks it is and that he is playing with fire.” The US wanted President Hamid Karzai to fall in line and sign the BSA by end of 2013. The BSA has still not been signed and President Hamid Karzai has bluntly told the US that he won’t be signing on the dotted line as the US expects him to.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Speaking of the Nexus across the Atlantic Pond: The British Parliament is being used by Kallathonis !

    “Prabhakaran uses British Parliament to accuse SL army of chemical attack
    February 4, 2014, 10:15 pm – Island

    By Shamindra Ferdinando

    An Indian passport holder named Thamil Prabhakaran deported from Sri Lanka last December for violating visa regulations has shown a documentary titled This land belongs to the Army in the House of Commons, alleging that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) used chemical weapons during the final assault on the Vanni east front in 2009.

    The presentations were made in the Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons on January 31, the first day of a two-day conference and the following day at the University College of London.

    Thamil Prabhakaran from South India had an Indian passport bearing number MK 6149374 at the time he was detained in Pooneryn in the Vanni region. He was deported after the Indian High Commission in Colombo had been informed of the government decision.

    A senior security official alleged that Prabhakaran had been here on the invitation of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the main constituent of the multi-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

    Prabhakaran has written a series of articles titled Searching for footsteps of Tigers for Tamil Nadu magazine, Junior Vikatan. A book was also published under the same title recently.

    Prabhakaran participated at the UK conference on the invitation of the British Tamil Forum (BTF) and the All Party Parliamentary Group of Tamils (APPGT).

    An External Affairs Ministry official told The Island that the BTF was seeking to dominate the Diaspora in the wake of its dispute with the Global Tamil Forum (GTF). The GTF didn’t receive an invitation for the event.

    On behalf of the ruling Conservative Party (MP Lee Scott) and the Labour (Siobhain McDonagh) addressed the gathering at the inaugural session.

    The Defence Ministry said that there was absolutely no basis for the BTF-APPGT allegations with regard to the SLA taking over of property belonging to Tamil speaking people. A senior Defence Ministry spokesperson told The Island that the alleged chemical attacks were a total fabrication by the LTTE backers. Since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the military had handed over many public properties to their rightful owners, the official said, adding that those who were skeptical of the Defence Ministry position could visit the Jaffna peninsula to see the situation for themselves.

    Callum Macrae of the Channel 4 News, too, addressed the gathering.

    The organisers also invited a group of TNA representatives for the conference also attended by several NGO activists”.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Nalliah,

    Re Afghanisatan : President Obama in his recent Sate of the Union speech asserted that US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan (phased withdrawal), and Afghan troops trained to maintain peace there.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    read as ‘State of the Union speech …..”

  12. douglas Says:

    It is no doubt and an accepted fact that immediately after the conclusion of the war in 2009 our Government flawed and failed in handling matters in relation to External Affairs. The reasons are very many and among those prominent are (1) neglect and overlook by the people in whose hands were the duties to develop “strategies” to meet the next immediate reaction and the threat by the widely spread and influential Tamil Diaspora (2) complete disregard and neglect to identify the “frustrations” of the Governments who directly or indirectly supported or sympathized with the LTTE at their defeat. (3) the ignorance displayed in recognizing the influence the Tamil Diaspora have in the electoral voter base of the political parties of the respective countries. (4) the lack of understanding and competency to develop strategical methods such as communication mechanisms, to keep the foreign governments and their diplomats, research and analysts staff abreast of the situation, problems, implications and the needs of the country and the people. (5) the chaotic style of manning of our Missions abroad (6) reliance on “damage repair” rather than “visualization” of impending threats and preparations made ahead of such damage. and last but not the least (7) the “cut throat” and “back biting” culture well embedded in and among those charged with the responsibilities of handling the affairs related to external and internal matters.

    With all of above and many others we have neglected and failed, the Authorities are now occupied on a full time basis in “Damage Control”. This is costing us dearly both politically and financially. Our main concern and engagement has been diverted to US for obvious reasons of them being the principal actor in the theatre. It is not a secret that our Mission in US has failed miserably, again mainly to due to placing “square pegs in round holes”. In repairing that damage, we have entrusted the “lobbying” engagements to two different institutions ,one at a cost of US$ 66,000.00 and the other at US$ 50,000.00 a month. All this money (cost) has not brought us any tangible returns as seen by the public comments and press briefings made by the various dignitaries who visit us on a regular basis. Leaving that aside, we have not been able even to make impressive presence felt in the US embassy based in Colombo. The authoritative figure based there goes about her business as if she is the “Viceroy” accredited with the authority to govern our country. That is how our efforts have not brought us to a point of no return politically.

    So we are aware of the “situation”; “problems”; and “implications”, but yet we have to find what “needs” to be done. That is the urgent “need” hovering around us today. Any thoughts on that “NEED”?

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    douglas,

    Implementing the long neglected 6-A should bring some positive results to stop Separatism.

  14. douglas Says:

    Sorry one correction: The last sentence of paragraph two: “That is how our efforts have not brought us to the point of no return politically” must be “THAT IS HOW OUR EFFORTS HAVE BROUGHT US TO THE POINT OF NO RETURN”.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  15. Indrajith Says:

    Hi Patriots,

    Please read the following article publised in LankaPage/Colombopage!

    http://www.colombopage.com/archive_14A/Feb05_1391545594CH.php

    This is an excellent idea which no one think of before. The Author Dharshan Weerasekera is a true son of mother lanka.

    Hope the govt of SL specially the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense will make full use of this opportunity. May the Holy Triple Gems bless Sri Lanka!!!

  16. Lorenzo Says:

    Fran,

    “Speaking of the Nexus across the Atlantic Pond: The British Parliament is being used by Kallathonis !”

    Thanks for sharing that story.

    So this time it is going to be CHEMICAL ATTACK BS.

    We cannot stop Tamil Madu kallathoni nonsense in the UK but we can BUST Tamil Elamists in SL. But that is NOT happening UNTIL 6 amendment is activated.

    IF 6 amendment is activated Sambandan, Sumanthiran, Viggie, etc. will be in JAIL. HALF of our problems will be OVER.

  17. Lorenzo Says:

    From Tamilnet.

    Tamilians insult SL’s independent day.

    “Black flags were hoisted before the day dawned at reading rooms and libraries in the villages. The SL soldiers were busy removing the black flags early in the morning.

    A large black flag was hoisted on the top of the water tank at the gents hostel in Jaffna University, according to a local newspaper in Jaffna. The SL military was deployed at the site in the early hours and the flag was removed, news sources in Jaffna said. The entire university premises was surrounded by the Sri Lankan soldiers, and no one was allowed to enter the premises. Most of the students had left the hostel on Monday.

    Already on Monday, the Sri Lankan soldiers were going from shop to shop and to private institutions in Jaffna instructing the owners to fly SL Lion Flag at their buildings and on their vehicles. However, the flags were deliberately hung upside down and torn by the public in expressing their sentiments.”

  18. Lorenzo Says:

    Thanks Indrajith.

    “In a research paper published in the Foreign Policy Journal, author Dharshan Weerasekera says that one of the principal remedies now open to Sri Lanka was to petition the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an Advisory Opinion on the legality of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Expert’s report.

    According to the author, If the ICJ deemed the report illegal, all subsequent measures based on that report, including the two US-sponsored resolutions at the UNHRC in March 2012 and 2013, would become illegal, and of no effect in law.

    The author, a lawyer by profession, points out that previously, the “accountability” campaign was primarily and principally based on allegations of war crimes contained in the Secretary General’s report.

    However, since September 2013, it is based on the purported reneging by Sri Lanka on promises to investigate the allegations made in the Secretary General’s report, along with certain allegations highlighted in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report, as well as two videos produced under the auspices of a private TV station (Channel 4) in England.

    The change in strategy makes it easier for the critics of Sri Lanka to shift the burden onto Sri Lanka to justify or defend why it didn’t investigate the various allegations against it, the author points out.

    The strategy allows the critics to focus all attention on Sri Lanka’s inadequacies in pursuing allegations, rather than on whether those allegations were worth pursuing to begin with, the research paper points out.”

  19. Marco Says:

    Douglas
    I agree with you, our Government failed, flawed, and wasted a golden opportunity to put thinks right soon after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. Instead MR sought to consolidate his own power base (18th) as opposed to the reconciliation processes (as promised by him) that should have been undertaken. In years to come we will eventually find out the help from India & US given to MR and the Govt to eradicate the terrorist menace during the last stages of the war.
    I have already mentioned/commented on this before. I believe MR gave a firm undertaking to India, US & UN for not interfering (who were monitoring via satellite the last stages) to provide a political solution after the defeat of the LTTE in the form of the implementation of the 13th Amendment etc. Hence, you may recall the various speeches and joint statements MR made with BanKi Moon on 13th, 13th plus plus. (you don’t hear about it any more!). MR can make promises/undertakings to the local populace who are known to have short memories (eg- abolish the Constitution, Mahinda Chintanaya etc) without delivering but not to the International Community.

    I believe you have given too much credit to the Tamil Diaspora for the current predicament.
    Admittedly they appear to be well organised and taken advantage of the flawed and disingenuous statements, policy decisions taken by MR GOSL. For example: from zero casualty to a few hundred casualty. Nobody was going to believe the “zero” casualty statement. WE were at war- There WILL be casualties. Admit it, end of story!
    “Lies Agreed Upon” was another waste to counter the CH4. It would have been far better to produce a factual presentation of the last stages of the war including the point of human casualties owing to the LTTE using tamils as human shields.
    Our current predicament has escalated from alleged war crimes now to the Rule of Law, Governance, Independent Judiciary, Religious incitements,bribery, political thuggery. These have come about from the various high profile and well publicised cases that we all know about. The goal posts has now widened purely by the actions (or inactions) of MR and GOSL of the above.
    No statements released by GOSL or Institutions under the control the Government can be believed now. Think most if not all do not take it with a pinch of salt, whether it be Political, Law Enforcement or more recently Economical/Finance. Reminds me of the time of CBK- Competent Authority-often referred as Incompetent Authority

    MR has “cheesed” off India, US & the UN in renegading on his promise. The UN will not give in and broaden its “allegations” as mentioned above since 2009. The West including India are using the Tamil Diaspora (and vice versa) to pressure MR.

    Where do we go from here you ask? Very Good question.
    I see MR using these UN resolutions to his political advantage for the next few years. As a shrewd political operator he sees political mileage in feeding the “same story” to the local populace.

  20. Marco Says:

    Refer below Defense.lk news report
    Sri Lanka should petition ICJ for an advisory opinion on legality of UN action – report

    A report published in an international journal argues that the United Nation’s Sri Lanka strategy is flawed and Sri Lanka should petition the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an Advisory Opinion on the legality of the UN’s report on Sri Lanka which was the basis for the two resolutions against the country.

    In a research paper published in the Foreign Policy Journal, author Dharshan Weerasekera says that one of the principal remedies now open to Sri Lanka was to petition the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an Advisory Opinion on the legality of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Expert’s report.

    According to the author, If the ICJ deemed the report illegal, all subsequent measures based on that report, including the two US-sponsored resolutions at the UNHRC in March 2012 and 2013, would become illegal, and of no effect in law.

    The author, a lawyer by profession, points out that previously, the “accountability” campaign was primarily and principally based on allegations of war crimes contained in the Secretary General’s report.

    However, since September 2013, it is based on the purported reneging by Sri Lanka on promises to investigate the allegations made in the Secretary General’s report, along with certain allegations highlighted in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report, as well as two videos produced under the auspices of a private TV station (Channel 4) in England.

    The change in strategy makes it easier for the critics of Sri Lanka to shift the burden onto Sri Lanka to justify or defend why it didn’t investigate the various allegations against it, the author points out.

    The strategy allows the critics to focus all attention on Sri Lanka’s inadequacies in pursuing allegations, rather than on whether those allegations were worth pursuing to begin with, the research paper points out.

    Read the full report: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/02/04/the-uns-sri-lanka-strategy-and-its-implications-for-international-law/

    Courtesy : President Media

    see also at Lankaweb

    The Illegality of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s approach to Sri Lanka

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2013/11/27/the-illegality-of-un-secretary-general-ban-ki-moons-approach-to-sri-lanka-2/

    I now wish to ask the question is GOSL going to petition the ICJ for an advisory opinion?

  21. douglas Says:

    Marco ; I agree with what you have said excepting your opinion expressed in regard to my comment suggesting that “too much credit” has been given to Tamil Diaspora.

    If you have followed what Mr. Asoka Weeerasinghe from Canada has been writing about the Diaspora in that country you would have realized how they have become a “deciding vote bank” in an election time. He said (if I remember correct) that every political party in that country fight a pitch battle to win ten (10) seats in the Toronto District to form a majority Government, because in all those ten seats the Tamils have become the “deciding vote”. There is already one MP in the Federal Government Parliament who recently visited Sri Lanka and created sensational news. It is so with movements like “Tamils for Clinton” and “Tamils for Obama” in US and GTF in UK influencing and lobbying the MPs. Both the Liberal and Conservatives are in a neck to neck fight to win their votes at election time. They have even succeeded in using the Parliament Committee Rooms to organize lecture sessions and screening of films from CH 4 and the latest of Prabakaran, the India Journalist who was deported from Sri Lanka. That is why I concluded that they are a force to reckon with.

    Also I have on numerous occasion written how our Government in their “ego centric adventures” did ignore the “second battle” to be waged against the Tamil LTTE Diaspora. Also to make matters worse, our President on numerous occasions did make very irresponsible statement as that of 13A + etc. As you very correctly said, no war has been conducted without loss of life and material and we had a very convenient way of declaring that as “Collateral damage” and let anyone say the numbers; but not engage ourselves in a “number game”. We wasted our time celebrating the winning in holding Provincial Elections committing such elections to be given to North & East under 13A. without concentrating on the charge of “genocide” orchestrated by the Tamil LTTE Diaspora.

    We can go on and on… but need to find a way out as otherwise we the ordinary citizens are going to face immense hardships in the future. This I have hinted at the opening comment I made in commenting on this article. If any action is taken to place “embargoes” and “sanctions” we the ordinary folks will be the hardest to hit. MR and party will not be without food, shelter and drink. We already experienced that when US enforced an embargo on Iranian oil imports. Are the ruling clan and their goons affected? No. Their life style goes on without any hindrance. But we poor folks pay through our nose to consumer articles. That is the reality. That is the danger and we “need” to find some way out of such a situation. In this context Mr. Dharshan Weerasekera sometime back wrote in this page a possible course of action to be taken by the Government; but in my opinion that needs a comprehensive analysis and study by the legal experts before venturing into it at Hague.

    Thank you for your input.

  22. Lorenzo Says:

    On war crimes BS everyone should RE-READ this.

    LW has reproduced this today.

    From Sri Lanka, questions about wars
    The Hindu, November 20, 2013

    Copied from that.

    “The numbers

    It is important to understand why so many different numbers exist, what they mean, and what they imply.
    The methodology behind these figures was first proposed by the University Teachers for Human Rights, a Jaffna-based human rights group. In essence, the UTHR proposed deducting the number of civilians who arrived at the government’s refugee camps from those known to be living in the so-called no-fire zone. This gave a number for people who could be presumed to have been killed.

    However, no one knows how many people were actually living in the no-fire zone to start with. The government agent in Mullaithivu district, K. Parthipan, estimated the population to be around 330,000 in February 2009. Mr. Parthipan, though, had no way of conducting a census in the no-fire zone; he relied instead on reports from local headmen. He did not have any tools to distinguish civilians from LTTE conscripts and irregulars. He had no way of accounting for people who fled the zone to safety as the Sri Lankan forces closed in.

    Mr. Parthipan’s numbers weren’t supported by the United Nations Panel of Expert’s analysis of satellite images, which suggested a population of 267,618. The U.N. experts then attempted a rule-of-thumb calculation of 1:2 or 1:3 civilian dead for every person known to be injured, which suggested 15,000 to 22,500 fatalities — much lower than the estimates that have now become commonplace. Finally, the panel plumped for an estimate of 40,000, based on Mr. Parthipan’s numbers.

    Notably, the panel did not distinguish between civilians and the LTTE cadre — a fact noted by the U.S. State Department’s December 2009 report to Congress. The LTTE’s regular forces, estimated by experts at around 30,000, were backed by irregulars, the makkal padai, as well as press-ganged conscripts.

    Deliberate killing?

    It isn’t unequivocally clear, either, that disproportionate or indiscriminate force was used to eliminate these forces. Satellite imaging shows that right up to May 17, the Sri Lankan Army was facing fire from the LTTE’s 130 mm, 140 mm and 152 mm artillery. The Sri Lankan Army claims to have been losing over 40 soldiers a day during the last phases of the war. The former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, sent a confidential cable to Washington, DC, on January 26, 2009, saying that the Sri Lankan Army “has a generally good track record of taking care to minimise civilian casualties during its advances.”

    Jacques de Maio, head of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, concurred: on July 9, 2009 he told a U.S. diplomat that Sri Lanka “actually could have won the military battle faster with higher civilian casualties, yet chose a slower approach which led to a greater number of Sri Lankan military deaths.”

    It is worth noting, too, that the U.N. panel acknowledged that the LTTE put some of those civilians in harm’s way. The report found “patterns of conduct whereby the LTTE deliberately located or used mortar pieces or other light artillery, military vehicles, mortar pits, and trenches in proximity to civilian areas.”

    D.B.S. Jeyaraj has graphically described how the LTTE forced civilians into the Karaichikkudiyiruppu area to defeat an offensive by the Sri Lankan Army’s 55 division and 59 division.

    Photographs taken by a cameraman for The Times of London on May 24, 2009, for example, show what appear to be pits for siting mortar, an arms trailer and a bunker, in the midst of a civilian location in the no-fire zone.

    None of this, of course, settles things one way or the other — and that’s the point. There is very little doubt that the Sri Lankan forces did commit crimes. They worked with savage paramilitaries who were out to settle scores with the LTTE. It doesn’t follow from this, though, that Sri Lanka’s campaign against the LTTE was genocide.”

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