THE POHOTTUWA GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA Part 2 C9b
Posted on December 23rd, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Analysts observe that in addition to China, Sri Lanka has close relation with Iran and Russia.     Russia has always stood by Sri Lanka, they said. Russia supported Sri Lanka at UNHRC in Geneva   and gave military assistance during the war.   Iran gave interest free loans as well as military items. Iran also supplied us with our crude oil requirements.

After a lapse of a few decades when it was battling with Glastnost, Russia is now coming back onto the international scene. Russia now    plans to become a world power. Russia started by complaining, at the start of the 74th UN General Assembly sessions in September 2019, that Russia’s role in defeating Hitler is ignored in the west. The sole credit for winning World War II was given to America and Britain, when in reality, Britain and America moved in only after Russia had weakened Germany in the east and the Russian army had arrived in Berlin. 

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, wrote, Expunging from memory the Soviet Union’s role in the defeat of Nazism, belittling the Soviet contribution to the victory, but also   retrospectively strip our country of its historic role as an architect and guarantor of the post-war world order”. (‘Russia in Global Affairs’, 20 September 2019)

The Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yury Materiy   said in Colombo, that detractors seek to diminish the role of the Soviet Union, in World War II, and portray it as an aggressor along with Nazi Germany. There is a pronounced anti-Russia motive. Young people are being told that the main credit for winning WWII goes, not to the Soviet troops, but to the West, due to the landing in Normandy. It was the Soviet Union that broke the backbone of the Third Reich”.

Russia has now established significant links with other countries. Putin was shown standing next to President Ji at China’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Beijing. Russia sent a contingent for the army parade. In the float parade, the second Chinese float silently recognized the Russian Revolution.

Putin and North Korea’s Kim met for their first-ever summit in April 2019. Putin, known for delaying meetings with international guests, was waiting for Kim when he emerged from his limousine. The two leaders greeted each other warmly, shaking hands and smiling. The meeting lasted nearly five hours, reported the media. Russia is also wooing the elites in Africa, said TIME. 

Russia is specifically targeting countries which have a toxic relationship with USA, observed TIME. Russia is intervening wherever USA is active. Maduro in Venezuela has survived USA sanctions thanks to Russian cash and political cover.  In Syria Russia rescued Bashar Assad with a militia campaign that forced the US to abandon hopes of ousting him.

At least 18 governments have signed military cooperation deals with   Russia since 2015, said TIME. Two Russian warships docked in the Philippines. Philippines is a US treaty ally.

In 2019 India signed a $3 billion deal to lease a third Russian nuclear-powered submarine. Russia remains a major supplier of arms to India, despite the fact that the United States has imposed sanctions on nations buying military hardware from Moscow.

Russia has started to publicly condemn US policy, specially its policy in the Indian Ocean.  during  the UN General assembly 74th session in September 2019, Foreign Minister of Russia , Sergey Lavrov wrote a piece to ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ magazine, (20 September 2019.)  in that piece he said, the [US] rhetoric on liberalism, democracy and human rights goes hand in hand with  policies of inequality, injustice, selfishness and a belief in their own exceptionalism.‘

The West focuses on individuals and their rights and freedoms, Lavrov continued. How does this [fit in with] economic strangulation and overt military threats against a number of independent countries such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea or Syria. The reckless Arab Spring gamble destroyed the unique ethnic and religious mosaic in the Middle East and North Africa. There is also Washington’s open refusal to implement unanimous UN Security Council resolutions is the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Russia also commented on R2P”. The interventionist ideology of ‘responsibility to protect’, R2P, which justifies violent ‘humanitarian interventions’ without UN Security Council approval under the pretext of an imminent threat to the safety of civilians are part of the same  US policy.

This R2P concept provides for direct reach over the head of legitimate governments. Obviously, the real purpose is to obtain a tool of interference in the internal affairs of states bypassing the UN. The introduction of such new concepts is dangerous. It rejects the principles of international law embodied in the UN Charter.

Our American colleagues are persistently trying to mobilize all of their foreign partners to contain Russia and China. US must accept that the emergence of polycentric world is irreversible, no matter how hard anyone tries to artificially hold it back (let alone send it in reverse). Most countries don’t want to be held hostage to someone else’s geopolitical calculations and are determined to conduct nationally oriented domestic and foreign policies.

Lavrov went to Delhi and  launched a frontal assault on US maneuvering in the Indian Ocean region, criticizing the US’s new concept of ‘Free and Open Indo Pacific’ as one that is designed to contain China.

 In Japan, Lavrov addressed a high-powered gathering that included the Commander of the US-Indo Pacific Command and the Joint Chief of Staff of the Japan Self-Defence Forces. “Why do you need to call Asia-Pacific as Indo-Pacific, he asked. The answer is evident – to exclude China.

The concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” promoted by the United States has a destructive purpose. Its true objective is to divide the regional states into “interest groups”. Terminology should be unifying, not divisive, said Lavrov.

Lavrov also commented on the US invention of a ‘rules-based liberal order’ in opposition to an ‘authoritarian order.’ These ‘rules’ are being invented by the west and introduced into everyday usage and is being actively implemented. This ‘rules-based order’ is intended to affect the powers of the UN Security Council. Its purpose is to replace the universally agreed international legal instruments and usurp the decision-making process.

Russia has taken care to nurture its relationship with Sri Lanka. The Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yury Materiy speaking at Russia Day, 2020 said that Russia is not only a European but also an Asian country, due to its geographical position, history, cultural and religious links with the East, thus becoming a natural bridge between the East and the West. South Asia and Asia-Pacific region remains one of the key priorities of our foreign policy, he said.

Sri Lanka is one of our closest partners and friends in the South Asian region. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on February 19, 1957. Russia has always supported and backed Sri Lanka in all international fora, particularly in the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as the Sri Lankan efforts in UN Peacekeeping Missions.

In recent years, relations between our countries have developed at a good pace. The latest example of our ever-growing partnership is the working visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov to Sri Lanka on January 14, 2020. The Russian Foreign Minister met with the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister for Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena, concluded Ambassador Materiy.

President Sirisena had spoken with President Putin at Fifth Summit of Heads of State of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in June 2019. He had told Putin about the difficulties in buying defense equipment from Russia due to a US directive prohibiting his government from dealing with some Russian enterprises. This prevented Sri Lanka from using a credit line made available by Russia. Sirisena had sought advice from President Putin as to how ‘the problem could be tackled’. He told Putin that that the three MIGs given by Russia in 1972 to fight an insurgency are still in service.  On his return, President Sirisena spoke warmly about his interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported the media.

Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, made an official trip to Russia in July 2019 at the invitation of Russia. This was the first visit by a Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy to Russian Navy Headquarters at Saint Petersburg. Vice Admiral De Silva called on the Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy. He participated in a working meeting with high level specialists in military technical cooperation and was given a detailed tour of a Russian patrol corvette.

During this visit, representatives from Sri Lanka embassy in Moscow had met with Russian Navy Headquarters’ International Relations officers to discuss upcoming visits which aimed at advancing cooperation between Sri Lanka and Russia Naval educational institutions. The first exchange visit would be between the Naval & Maritime Academy, Trincomalee, and Admiral Kuznetsov Naval Academy, Saint Petersburg, the principal education & research centre of the Russian Navy.

Russia participated in Cormorant Strike 2019”, the combined forces field training exercise   organized by Sri Lanka army.  Sri Lanka is taking steps to enhance naval cooperation with Russia, announced the Foreign Ministry, on that occasion. In 2019, Sri Lanka participated at the Main Naval Parade, Russia’s largest-scale international ceremonial event at sea.

 Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of the Russian Federation General Oleg Salyukov participated in Sri Lanka’s 72nd Independence Day celebrations of 2020. General Oleg Salyukov thanked the Sri Lankan Government for the invitation and warm welcome accorded to him. He commended the Army Commander for his bravery during the war and praised him for being one of the most decorated officers in the history of the Sri Lankan military. He placed a floral tribute at the war memorial.

Iran also been helpful to Sri Lanka, not only with military supplies but also with interest free loans. Iran also supplied us with our crude oil requirements, said K Godage.  Iran is important and should not be ignored by Sri Lanka.

USA’s interest in Iran started due to its oil. American companies were drilling Iran’s oil. USA got rid of Iran’s popular ruler, Mossadegh and replaced him with the awful Shah Reza Pahlavi. The Shah’s secret police SAVAK was assisted by CIA and Israel’s MOSSAD. The Shah was unpopular and the USA had to take him away. A theocratic Iranian state, openly hostile towards USA, came into being.

USA then started its present day battle with Iran. There was the ‘Iran hostage’ crisis, the ‘Iran Contra’ issue, ‘Iran nuclear programme’ Iran has loomed large in American politics, despite the distance, observed analysts. Currently, USA has imposed sanctions on Iran.

Iran, however, has not meekly given in to USA as USA hoped. Iran criticizes USA at every turn. When you click on Al Jazeera today, there is sure to be an Iranian authority on the screen, scolding USA. Iran accuses US of being the only country to have used nuclear weapons, twice in Japan in 1945, and yet of blocking other countries, especially Iran, from benefiting from a civil nuclear program. Iran is simultaneously fighting three cold wars, Israel, Saudi Arabia and US, commented TIME. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei, has ‘confounded every US President’ for the last 30 years, TIME added.

The clash between the two countries is increasing. In 2019, Iran unveiled a set of anti-American murals on the walls of the former US embassy. The message in the paintings was of a violent US, thirsty for war and bent on tightening its grip on the world, but was in reality, a weakening power.

The murals, mainly painted in white, red and blue, the colors of the US flag, showed the Great Seal of the United States with a Star of David in it. Instead of an olive branch, the eagle is clutching bullets in his talons. Another mural showed the American Global Hawk drone shot down by Iran.

But things are not going well for Iran either. 2020 began with the assassination of Iranian top military officer Soulamani and ended with the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, the architect behind Iran’s nuclear programme Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.

In November 2020, Fakhrizadeh was assassinated outside of Tehran. First, a truck with explosives blew up near the car carrying Fakhrizadeh. Then, gunmen started firing on Fakhrizadeh’s car. The immediate speculation was that Israel had carried out the attack. The coordinated assassination of Fakhrizadeh in Teheran came days after the covert Israeli-Saudi-US meeting that reportedly took place in Neom. All indications indeed point to Israel. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified Fakhrizadeh, as a target of his administration. Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh, Netanyahu had said.

Fakhrizadeh was not first Iranian nuclear scientist to be assassinated. Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad, and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. Israel, working with the MEK, was behind the killings said analysts.  The Israeli government never denied the allegations. Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) is a political party inside Iran, working towards the defeat of the government. 

In Sri Lanka the Iranian embassy stated that the evidence clearly indicates the involvement of Israel in the terrorist attack. Israeli authorities have repeatedly named Dr. Fakhrizadeh and planned to assassinate him several times.

Local analysts have drawn attention to the significance of Iran in world politics. Asanga Abeygoonasekera has pointed out that Iran holds a pivotal position in the Middle Eastern frontier.  The recently concluded Abraham Pact between UAE, Israel and Bahrain backed by Saudi Arabia was intended to deter Iran.  

Sri Lanka should take note of two geopolitical pressure points, said Asanga. First, the Middle East with its Abraham Pact, to deter Iran. Second, in the Indo Pacific region to deter China. If sanctions against Iran are relaxed, Iran would play a much larger economic role in the oil trade. If China is not contained by the US and its allies, it will continue to influence through its economic, military and CCP political model”.  (Continued)

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