Feature Article

Let Sinhala nation decide its fate, keep focus on Tamil struggle

[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 October 2018, 23:51 GMT]
The constitutional coup is an outcome of a fierce competition raging between UPFA and UNP agents, who want to exploit the accelerating trade-war between the two powers, the USA and China. The USA has already established its strategic military access to the island through India. The current dispute is not aimed at taking military or diplomatic side with a particular actor, Tamil political observers in Jaffna said. The right-wing populistic SLPP led by Rajapaksa, the strongman from Hambantota and the centre-left SLFP chaired by Sirisena, another strongman from Polonnaruwa, are staunch Sinhala nationalist parties having the blessings of the Buddhist establishment. The SL military is excited by their unity. Tamils, having no leadership after the LTTE, are puzzled. They are deceived to believe that China is behind Rajapaksa and that the USA is sticking with Wickramasinghe.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director and US Defense Secretary James Mattis, have been actively calling the shots in the Indian Ocean Region on behalf of the Trump administration in the recent months.

They would most likely have a different take on the matter, the political observers in Jaffna told TamilNet on Saturday.

As far as the competing powers are concerned, there are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends, only permanent interests in the island.

Ranil Wickramasinghe and Mangala Samaraweera have served the strategic interests of the USA to a certain extent since they emerged as the preferred agents of the USA during the times of Obama administration.

As a result, the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) of the Trump administration has gained the strategic military foothold in Trincomalee, the capital of occupied Tamil Eelam, where it is grooming a Sinhala marine force.

US Marines in Trincomalee with SL military
US Marine Sgt. Anthony Sandusky, a squad leader with Alpha Co., Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marines Expeditionary Unit, high-fives a ‘Sri Lankan’ Marine as he runs by during physical training as part of a TSC training at Trincomalee on Nov. 24, 2016. Around 325 US Marines and Sailors and 175 SL Navy sailors took part in the TSC engagement. [U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning/Released. Courtesy of Defence Video & Imagery Distribution System website: www.dvidshub.net]

Trincomalee is a permanent interest for the big powers, and the USA has already secured it.

How did Trump administration secure Trincomalee? Did it ever sign a bilateral defence pact with Colombo? No.

There was a military pact, which was in force between the USA and genocidal Sri Lanka. But, it has expired last year in 2017.

US-Sri Lanka ACSA (2007 - 2017)

The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), entered in 2007 by Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime was signed by SL Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and US Ambassador Robert O Blake, before the genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils.

US war ship in Trincomalee
The USS Amphibious Transport Dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23),along with the13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Trincomalee on August 24.

Indian war ship in Trinco
Three Indian naval ships Kirch, Sumitra and Cora Divh (T71 seen in the photo) entered Trincomalee on Friday for joint exercises with the SL Navy between September 07 and September 13
Japanese war ship
Japanese Destroyer Ikazuchi made a 3-day-visit to Trincomalee on August 20, 2018
Although Ranil Wickramasinghe went on record last year stating that the ACSA would be renewed, the renewal has not taken place.

As far as the geopolitical sphere of influence is concerned, USINDOPACOM's entry to Trincomalee is based on both the US-Indian defence pacts and on the Indo-Lanka Pact, in a top-down manner.

This is also witnessed in the pattern of the foreign naval actors entering the island belonging to the QUAD formation, which is an informal Quadrilateral Security Dialogue involving four countries, the USA, Japan, India and Australia.

To illustrate the level of the QUAD maritime engagement: Japanese naval vessels have stopped in the island 50 times in the past five years alone (Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda, the commander of Kaga, Japan’s largest warship, to the Reuters on 01 October 2018).

* * *

In a couple of days, India is set to enter a defence agreement with Japan, allowing the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the Japanese Navy, access to Andaman Nicobar islands, a key strategic chokepoint for Malacca Strait.

From Djibouti in the Horn of Africa to Andaman Nicobar in the Malaca Straits, a shadow war of aggressive nature is raging, between China and India.

The USA, which has secured its military access to the island, using the Indian Ocean and South China Sea disputes, has moved on to a consolidating phase and is pre-occupied with coaching the Sinhala masses with strong leadership.

Trade-war feature

It is time for Eezham Tamils to be pre-occupied with their rights, forge policy-oriented unity among themselves and demand global justice for the sixty years of genocide.

Locked in a regional game with India, China is all set to expose the island to a trade war. The island, situated in the southern tip of India and a critical link in China's massive-scale Belt Road Initiative (BRI), is now a theatre for a trade war. It would continue to be so until a balance of power or negotiated stalemate is established with India with regards to its ambitions.

Trade-war feature
China's Army soldiers and Navy personnel on march in Djibouti's annual independence day celebrations on June 27, 2017

Tamils should have their focus on being unified and stay away from taking part in the dirty trade-war.

China knows its prospects for military access to the island are strictly limited.

Militarily, Djibouti-like conditions are not easily achieved on the island. Djibouti has been a base for various European, Asian, and American forces. China is only the latest actor in parallel to other actors having their bases in the small state.

The Trump administration with its “America First” policy is not going to pour in billions in infrastructure development in the island. Japan and India would have to do such investment in the island.

However, USA will make sure that China refrains from establishing military bases in the island.

* * *

As far as Tamils are concerned, the US access to their eastern coast is the most dangerous one as it justifies the continued Sinhala military occupation of Tamil homeland, the continued denial of a political solution to the national question and the denial of international justice, the political observers in Jaffna said.

Along with the name change from US Pacific Command (USPACOM) to USINDOPACOM in May 2018, US, Japanese and Indian warships have engaged in significant joint training sessions with the navy of genocidal Sri Lanka at Trincomalee.

While having a friendly regime in Colombo and providing naval vessels and training to its military, Donald Trump's USA has not opted for a unilateral pact with the SL State in securing the strategic-access to Trincomalee. It has done it through its preferred partner India.

One has to revisit the attached conditions of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 and realise the significance of the recent defence pacts that have been signed between Donald Trump's USA and Narendra Modi's India.

Trade-war feature
[R-L] US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Trade-war feature
Retired 4-star Marine Corps General turned Defense Secretary James N. Mattis
Trade-war feature
US Secretary of State (Foreign Minister) Mike Pompeo is a former CIA Director (January 2017 until April 2018). He has also a military background as Armor Branch cavalry officer (1986 to 1991) and has a Law degree from Harvard Law School
Pompeo and Mattis had their first-ever “2+2” ministerial-level dialogue with their Indian counterparts, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on 6th of September, 2018.

Washington and New Delhi have signed Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) during the occasion. COMCASA is a significant defence agreement, one of the three foundational pacts, which the USA has been demanding for a long time.

The previous one, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), was signed in 2016 after much hesitation as New Delhi was facing internal criticism for becoming locked to a foreign power (it was also a clear departure from the formal non-alignment policy of Cold War times).

BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation), is the next one to be signed.

* * *

One of the attached conditions to the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987, as specified in the letter of exchange between the SL President and the Indian Prime Minister in 1987 clearly states the following: “Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India's interests.” 

As long as India is tightly locked to the US military grid, the rulers in Colombo, have to toe the USINDOPACOM line. They cannot allow Chinese military bases to be stationed in the island.

Both the sections of Rajapaksa-Sirisena and Wickramasinghe-Samaraweera are fully aware of this reality.

Whoever emerges as the victor, would be set to toe the same line, evolve it further to the whims and fancies of the Sinhala Buddhist establishment while satisfying the greed of capitalist forces seeking military and trade inroads to the island.

One would also not be surprised if the USA has a tacit understanding with the Rajapaksa brothers of renewing ACSA.

Whether there is an ACSA or not, the USA will be the leading military actor and China the financial actor.

The rulers, be it Rajapaksa brothers or the UNP, would not be allowed to adopt Djibouti approach of allowing multiple actors to install military bases.

Trade-war feature
Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James Clad, who was previously in-charge of Defense/Security affairs for Asia Pacific from 2007 to 2009 in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush, was seated at the inaugural Galle Dialogue in 2010 [far right] while SL Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was delivering inauguration address. James Clad delivered the keynote address. In 2016, he was backing Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election even though he served under a Republican president. He is currently a senior fellow for Asia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC

Former SL Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a US citizen who is known to maintain good rapport with the counter-insurgency establishment in the Pentagon, initiated Galle Dialogue in 2010, a year after the genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils.

The Galle Dialogue, organised by the SL Navy, indicated its projection as an emerging maritime force in the region taking advantage of its war-experience with the Sea Tigers. The Galle Dialogue move was also parallel to the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which was initiated in 2008 by the Indian Navy.

The Galle Dialogue was taken up and advanced by Wickramasinghe to the advantage of the QUAD actors.

Likewise, Wickramasinghe's UNP regime was also dealing with China, evolving the trend set by the Rajapaksa regime.

China, with its massive-scale BRI initiative, will be relentless, and it will continue to seek opportunities such as the well-demonstrated "loan-to-own" tactic applied in the case of Hambantota port.

Trade-war feature

One has to remember that it was Ranil Wickramasinghe, who handed over the port to China on a 99-year lease, a move which was cited by US media during Mike Pompeo's recent visit to Latin America (Wickramasinghe was defending that the 99-year contract was not paving the way for military access to China).

"[W]hen China comes calling it’s not always to the good of your citizens, and when they show up with a straight-up, legitimate investment that’s transparent and according to the rule of law, that’s called competition and it’s something that the United States welcomes, but when they show up with deals that seem to be too good to be true it’s often the case that they, in fact, are,” Pompeo was cited by the US State Department's website as saying.

China was quick to condemn Pompeo for his remarks in Latin America.

In an apparent move to counter the BRI narrative, to which China has spent USD 120 billions of overseas direct investment on infrastructure development in 2017 alone, the USA has come up with its investment plan, as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy.

Pompeo announced the move of investing $113 million to improve the digital economy, energy, and infrastructure at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum held in Washington in July.

It is under these circumstances, the agents in the island have jumped into the race of seizing political power.

* * *

As far as Eezham Tamils are concerned, it is the continued Sinhala military occupation of Tamil homeland, denial of a political solution and the sophisticated denial of international injustice to the genocide that need to be the factors determining their response.

It is just another opportunity for Eezham Tamils to grasp the significance of the 2005 prophecy of the Tamil Eelam National Leader: Let the Sinhala nation decide their leaders on its own.

Eezham Tamils should unitedly and openly articulate their position to the global community.

Related Articles:
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26.08.18   U.S. naval partnership with genocidal Sri Lanka escalates wi..
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09.02.18   US naval engagement with Colombo triggers genocidal Sinhalic..
07.12.17   US Pacific Command complicit in Colombo’s structural genocid..
21.09.17   Champoor Tamils’ security, livelihood threatened by US milit..
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External Links:
Council on Foreign Relations: China’s Strategy in Djibouti: Mixing Commercial and Military Interests
Reuters: Japan, India negotiating military logistics pact in tightening of ties
Chinese Defence Ministry: China's Military Strategy
Business Insider: 2 of Asia's biggest militaries are working on a deal that could give them an edge over China
Quartz Africa: How a tiny African country became the world’s key military base
Nikkei Asian Review: US answers Belt and Road with own Indo-Pacific investment plan
Reuters: As Chinese influence grows, Japanese warship visits Sri Lanka
New York Times: How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port
U.S. Indo Pacific Command: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Holds Change of Command Ceremony
U.S. Department of State: Michael R. Pompeo: Remarks to Traveling Press
Galle Dialogue: Gotabhaya's inaugural keynote Address at “Galle Dialogue – 2010”
CNBC: New US spending in Asia won't match China but it's significant in other ways
Reuters: China denounces Pompeo's 'malicious' Latam comments amid influence battle



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