YAHAPALANA   AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Part 6
Posted on September 26th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

This essay records further US assistance to Yahapalana. Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Nash visited Sri Lanka in September 2018 to continue discussion on the proposed MCC Sri Lanka Compact, a large-scale five-year grant program, Lanka to promote economic growth in Sri Lanka . MCC is an innovative foreign assistance agency of the United States Government established in 2004. It has signed compacts with 29 countries around the world. In December 2016, MCC’s Board of Directors selected Sri Lanka for such a compact

This Compact is in its final stages and is expected to be negotiated with the Government of Sri Lanka soon. MCC will fund the compact entirely through grants which do not need to be repaid rather than loans. “It is designed to spur economic growth and investment by the private sector and increase economic opportunities for the people of Sri Lanka,

“Based on an analysis of Sri Lanka’s economy and the constraints that are holding back private investment and growth, MCC expects to invest in projects proposed by the Government of Sri Lanka in the transport and land sectors. The proposed compact would improve road networks and the bus system in the Colombo Metropolitan Region, and improve road connectivity between the central region and ports and markets in the Western Province. The compact would upgrade more than 300 kilometers of urban and interprovincial roads. In addition, the compact would improve land administration, and strengthen land rights and tenure security, said Nash. On 25th September, 2018, MCC informed that they were giving Sri Lanka a grant of USD 480 million as development aid.

USAID funded a project for more female representation in local government bodies. the Harvard Centre for International Development (HCID) is helping Sri Lanka in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) promoting emerging exports, targeting new non-existent industries, identifying and engaging with potential new investors, fixing the investment climate for new emerging industries and figuring out how to create new tourist destinations. Five teams of experts are working with Harvard, all focused on issues relating to exports and FDIs. BOI staff has also been receiving training programmes conducted by Harvard University’s Centre for International Development, McKinsey Consulting and the World Bank Group.

The U.S. embassy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Matara Chamber of Industry and Commerce in September 2018 to open an American Corner in Matara. The American Corner will offer free programs and training for the Southern Province’s residents. Programs will include English classes, coding and computer skills, leadership and public speaking training, and a range of film screenings and cultural opportunities.”

This American Corner represents the U.S. embassy’s desire to build a relationship with the people of the Southern Province.” Our free programs will expand economic opportunity in the region and build ties between the United States and Sri Lanka.”The American Corner follows the successful March 2018 launch of the U.S. Embassy’s Information Hub (‘iHub”), which has attracted audiences of different ages and diverse backgrounds. Current programs include public speaking and English.”

In February 2018   Yahapalana signed an agreement with the US to re-establish a US Peace Corps programme in Sri Lanka. The negotiations had started in 2016. The first 25 American Peace Corps Volunteers will arrive in Sri Lanka in late 2019 and undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years.  Peace Corp volunteers in Sri Lanka will focus on English language education and supporting the Education Ministry, schools, and community groups in coordination with the Sri Lankan English Teachers’ Association. They will complement several other English teaching programs funded by the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the press release stated.

They will be given diplomatic privileges The Diplomatic Privileges Act provisions have been invoked to accord equitable treatment to the Volunteers and persons performing functions under contract with the Peace Corps and their dependents.

the Government will provide to the Peace Corps the same exemptions with respect to taxes on payments that they receive to defray their living costs, on income derived from their officials duties, and on income from other sources outside Sri Lanka; customs duties or other charges on their personal property introduced into Sri Lanka for their own use; and all other taxes or other charges (including immigration/visa fees), except licence fees as provided to members of the administrative and technical staff of the Embassy of the United States in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Government will also exempt from all taxes (including value-added taxes) customs duties, and other charges all equipment, supplies, and other goods and services introduced into or acquired in Sri Lanka by the US Government or any contractor financed by it, for use to enable the US Government to discharge its responsibilities under this agreement.

The Government will also exempt such persons, and members of their families forming part of their households who are not citizens or permanent residents of Sri Lanka from all taxes or income derived from their Peace Corps work or other sources outside Sri Lanka, from all customs duties and other charges on their personal property introduced into Sri Lanka for their own use, and from all other taxes or other charges (including immigration/visa fees) except licence fees.

The question needs to be asked as to how teaching English to Sri Lankan children becomes such an urgent priority, said Kamal Wickremasinghe. This shows American interest in deploying so-called development volunteers at grass roots level in Sri Lankan villages close to a scheduled general election (2019). The return of the controversial US Peace Corps, in 2019 reflects Washington’s fears about the forthcoming General Elections and Presidential Elections, observed Tamara Kunanayagam.

The Peace Corps was returning to Sri Lanka after some 20 years. Peace Corps was in Sri Lanka 1962–1964, 1967–1970, 1983–1998. Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike kicked them out after she became Prime Minister in 1970. They came back in 1983 and were sent back in 1998. Their return to Sri Lanka has raised the hackles of many who know the deeply suspicious role played by the Peace Corp in the countries they were sent to.

The US Peace Corps evolved from a CIA front known as the International Voluntary Services Inc. (IVS), during preparations for the war against Vietnam. The US Peace Corps has been expelled from a number of countries for spying for the CIA and other covert activities, meddling in local politics, and running drugs. As recently as September 2017, Cambodia’s Prime Minister demanded the withdrawal of the US Peace Corps for conspiring with the opposition leader Kem Sokha to overthrow his government.

.In 1965, Indonesia ordered them out after 16 months. In 1966, Guinea asked PCs to leave. In 1967, Mauritania severed relations with the US, including the PCs. Pakistan and India also refused to renew approval of PC projects in their countries in the early 1970s. Burkina Faso Peace Corps programme was closed in 2017 In Bolivia, in 2008 Peace Corp volunteers was instructed to report on Cuban and Venezuelan nationals in Bolivia.

Now to military matters. United States will provide nearly $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region, including Sri Lanka, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced at the ASEAN Regional Forum in August 2018.

The security assistance funding will cover projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and others, in the areas of Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR), Peacekeeping Operations and Countering Transnational Crime.

As part of the maritime security theme, we launched the Bay of Bengal Initiative to help enhance the capacity of civilian and military maritime actors in this vital region, which is home to important sea lanes linking the Indian Ocean to East Asia. Under the Bay of Bengal Initiative, the United States will ‘work with other partners in the Bay of Bengal, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to enhance the capacity of civilian and military maritime actors in the Indian Ocean Region to improve the target areas of detection, information-sharing, and response to emerging threats.’

In August 2018 the U.S. Department of State announced that it would provide approximately $39 million in Foreign Military Financing for Sri Lanka, pending Congressional approval.”We look forward to discussing with the Government of Sri Lanka how this contribution can support our Bay of Bengal initiative and Sri Lanka’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response priorities”, it said in a statement.

The US Army’s Pacific Region Head Gen. Robert B. Brown made an official visit to the Island in July   2018. He met Chief of Defence Staff. Gen. Brown’s visit was aimed at strengthening military cooperation and mutual friendship and thus deepening the US-South Asia understanding. Lengthy discussions took place on how the US Army can assist the Sri Lankan Army on disaster management activities and as to whether the Sri Lankan Peace Keeping Mission can get international training. Gen Brown also admired the professional competency of the Sri Lankan Army on demining.

The U.S. Coast Guard handed over a high endurance cutter, formerly the USCGC Sherman, to the Sri Lankan Navy in August 2018 at Honolulu. The cutter, a gift from the people of the United States, will be the largest ship in the Sri Lankan fleet. It measures 115 meters long and when fully staffed carries a crew of 167 The ship will increase Sri Lanka’s ability to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone, providing additional security for ships from all nations that transit the busy sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.

In May 2018, a delegation from the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress visited Sri Lanka. The House Armed Services Committee, a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives, is a powerful Committee, responsible for the supervision of armed forces and the Department of Defence. The delegation was led by its Chairman Mac Thornberry.

The visit was to find out ways of strengthening defence cooperation between Sri Lanka and USA.   President Sirisena told the delegation that he greatly appreciated the defense training provided by the US, such as the joint military exercises carried out by US and Sri Lanka. Such programmes should continue for security purposes.

The US embassy had arranged for the delegation to meet with civil society organizations and the TNA for private discussions. The US embassy said nothing about these meetings, but the TNA issued a detailed statement to the media.

The TNA statement said, that Sampanthan briefed the Thornberry delegation on the current political situation We are unhappy about the way the country is progressing,” the statement quoted Sampanthan as having told the delegation.

Sampanthan was also quoted as having said: “the majority of the people in this country are willing to address the national issue once and for all. What is lacking is that the courage from the Sinhala leaders to go out to the people and explicitly tell them on the need for a new Constitution and the benefits of framing a new Constitution.  Some Sinhala political leaders are trying to satisfy the hardliners than being just and equal to all people in this country, they cannot go on this path forever, it will only end up in history being repeated.

“Especially the President and the Prime Minister must go to the Sinhala people and genuinely explain the need for a new Constitution. Since 1988 every successive government and President have made several attempts to change the present Constitution, therefore, this should not be a difficult task for the majority of Sinhala people to understand. “We want a solution within a united undivided and indivisible country. The power-sharing arrangements should be in accordance with the international covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights said Sampanthan to Thornberry.

Sampanthan told the US delegation that the legitimate demands of the Tamil people in finding a lasting solution to the national question could only be addressed through adopting a new Constitution. Sampanthan highlighted that his party was confident that if the Constitution was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority it would be approved by the people at a referendum, which was necessary for a new Constitution he said.”We may have to rethink and our people will be forced to rethink our position if things do not go well and if things are not achieved within a certain time frame, continued Sampanthan

Sampanthan reminded the delegation that the Government of Sri Lanka has given a commitment to fully implement the UNHRC resolution adopted in 2015 before March 2019. They must fast-track their process to achieve those commitments. Sampanthan urged the delegation that the role of the International community with regard to Sri Lanka must be defined in relation to the UNHRC recommendations. The International community must ensure that the promises and the commitments given by the Sri Lankan Government are adhered to and implemented. The International community cannot be a spectator anymore with regard to Sri Lanka, if the government of Sri Lanka continues to fail in their commitments the international community must clearly state their position on their follow up mechanisms to safeguard the victims and ensure the non-recurrence of the past said Sampanthan.

In September 2018, Sagala Ratnayaka    , Minister of Youth Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister visited USA and on his return issued a statement. The statement said that Minster Ratnayaka had met Thornberry, also Ted Yoho, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, as well as senior officials of the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Department of Defence, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).  Ratnayaka had discussed with them the ongoing Sri Lanka–U.S. partnership and opportunities for further bilateral cooperation within USA’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Minister Ratnayaka briefed them on current developments in Sri Lanka.

There were several joint navy exercises.  I will list them chronologically. The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise (Rim of the Pacific – RIMPAC) took place in the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California in June/August 2018. After 47 years Sri Lanka Navy Marines got the opportunity attend RIMPAC. A Sri Lanka media team joined other international media in documenting the exercise. The many exercises conducted during RIMPAC included the training on the operations of an assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard. Participants gained firsthand knowledge on how rescue operation are conducted, how victims are brought to the ship and transferred to the ICU.

In July 2018 The Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercise between US Naval Special Warfare Forces personnel and Sri Lanka naval personnel from the 4th Fast Attack Flotilla (4FAF) and Special Boat Squadron (SBS) was inaugurated at the Special Boat Squadron Training School (SBSTS) in Trincomalee. The programme is held annually as part of a mutual understanding and agreements for the training and support requirements of both countries. The four – week course focused on developing professional skills and exchange of knowledge among naval personnel of US Naval Special Warfare Forces and Sri Lanka Navy

The third KDU-CNA Track 1.5 Dialogue on Naval cooperation was held in July 2018 at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU).The two-day dialogue was a collaborative initiative between KDU and the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), USA. The KDU-CNA Track 1.5 Dialogue is a one-of-a-kind discussion that we organize at KDU, facilitating interaction between the navies of Sri Lanka and the United States, along with the participation of relevant academics.”

This year’s Track 1.5 Dialogue focused on how bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the USA could be further improved in a variety of spheres and how the global security concerns are influencing the relations between the two countries. Track 1.5 diplomacy is an initiative to bring together government and non-governmental actors to discuss on a variety of topics that could improve the bilateral relations of countries. As such, this two-day deliberation witnessed the participation of analysts and academics along with naval officials from the navies of both participating countries for a discussion. Held under the Chatham House Rule, this year’s Dialogue included four main sessions, with the 5th and final session being a wrap-up session with the speakers providing forward-looking, implementable suggestions for Sri Lanka and the United States.

In august 2018 a joint humanitarian assistance mission called Pacific Angel, sponsored by the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) concluded at the Alagalla School in Vavuniya, .The mission operated in Vavuniya, Anuradhapura and Sigiriya, The purpose was to provide humanitarian civic assistance and carry out civil-military operations in the Pacific region,

Medical treatment was provided by Pacific Air Forces doctors, including representatives from the Bangladesh Air Force, Maldivian Defence Force, Nepal Army, and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Medical/Dental officers and nurses. Medical teams treated 3,000 patients the services included primary health care, physical therapy, optometry and dentistry. Vavuniya Nursing School students and Red Cross officials participated. A forum highlighting topics such as modern engineering practices in disaster management and renovation was also held for SLAF civil engineers and technicians. School buildings were also renovated.

Amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Trincomalee Port in August 2018. Anchorage, is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and is deployed to the 7th fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.

The US  was interested in  trying out the air logistics hub concept which utilizes Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure the quick availability of relief supplies, equipment and other material when needed by the US and partner militaries and humanitarian organizations. “The Sri Lankan navy, host nation support team and the U.S. Embassy have provided tremendous assistance and cooperation in developing the first temporary air logistics hub concept in Sri Lanka, said Anchorage officials.

Anchorage aims not only to enhance security cooperation, but to build understanding of the HADR (humanitarian assistance, disaster relief) capability that contributes to disaster, along with sharing of best practices and enabling more efficient joint relief efforts in the event of a future disaster.”

Additionally, sailors and marines will conduct training in visit, board, search and seizure, security force reaction techniques with the Sri Lankan Navy and Marines There will also be damage control training. The US Navy damage control program is the best. The visit is also an opportunity for US Seventh Fleet to explore local logistics support services for visiting naval forces operating throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

During the visit, sailors and marines will have opportunities to meet with their counterparts during exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy and marines. Approximately 300 Sri Lankan naval academy midshipmen and 40 distinguished visitors, will tour Anchorage to learn about the ship’s amphibious capabilities. .

The visit offers US sailors and marines the opportunity to explore the local area and meet their counterparts during exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy and Marines; the statement said “In addition to the professional exchanges, Sailors and Marines will take part in sporting events, including baseball, soccer, basketball and volleyball.

“Our Navy and Marine Corps team is deeply committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership with the Sri Lankan armed forces,” Sailors and Marines are focused on completing a successful mission and representing America in Sri Lanka. “These ship visits help demonstrate the value of the growing U.S.-Sri Lanka partnership,”

The USS Anchorage also joined the Sri Lankan naval ship Suranimila to conduct an exercise at sea.  The exercise allowed the ships to improve crews knowledge and strengthen a wide variety of seamanship skills critical to operating throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific region. During the exercise, multiple ships sailed information to practice communications and maneuvering procedures.  In addition to the Anchorage and Suranimila, two landing craft air cushions (LCACs), one AH-1Z Cobra helicopter, and one UH-1Y Huey helicopter participated. .”

“The Anchorage team and I had an incredible time in Trincomalee and we are proud to be serving alongside the Sri Lankan Navy,” said Captain Dennis Jacko, Commanding Officer of the USS Anchorage.  “Not only do we increase our proficiency in communications, but we continue to build on a strong and lasting partnership with the Sri Lankan Navy.” This was part of a growing U.S.-Sri Lanka naval partnership,

One Response to “YAHAPALANA   AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Part 6”

  1. Christie Says:

    There are plenty of Indian Parasites in the West and in particular in the USA. Athul Keshap is the best example. Any US policy odor actions of USA are Indian influenced.

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