Foreign Presence in Sri Lanka and its inevitable impact

This book, “Foreign Presence in Sri Lanka” by veteran journalist Latheef Farook, is about the presence of rival foreign powers and their inevitable impacts in the island known for its independent foreign policy which won the hearts of the entire Third World.

It was this policy which made the island host the Fifth Summit of the Heads of States of Non-Aligned countries in 1976, attended by a galaxy of leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

However short-sighted politics of successive governments which gave birth to almost three decades of devastating ethnic war brought in all sorts of players eroding the island’s sovereignty.

This trend continued even after the ethnic war ended in 2009.

China was the first to enter with its multi-billion-dollar projects.

Israel, expelled time and again, entered the island like midnight thief, and began penetrating from politics to media and numerous other fields with its global anti-Muslim agenda.

In the midst global rivalry in the Indian Ocean brought in United States, Europe and India. This needs to be viewed in the context of the growing rivalry between China and the Washington-London-New Delhi axis which has now absorbed Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The result was the island becoming a playground for rival powers, facilitated by the island’s corrupt and communalized governments.

For example, as stated by columnist Rajeewa Jayaweera in The Island, “Less than 72 hours after Gotabaya Rajapaksa took oaths as the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka, an unannounced and uninvited visitor, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar landed in Colombo as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy, with an invitation for the Sri Lankan President to visit India on November 26. Mr. Jaishankar reportedly conveyed India’s expectations to President Gotabaya.

Addressing the media jointly in New Delhi following closed-door bilateral talks during which only an Indian translator, no Sri Lankan note-taker, was present, Mr. Modi said:

“President Rajapaksa told me about his inclusive political outlook on ethnic harmony. I am confident that Sri Lanka will carry forward the process of reconciliation, to fulfill the aspirations of the Tamils for equality, justice, peace and respect. It also includes the implementation of the 13th Amendment, but, displaying his racist mindset, nothing was mentioned about the island’s Muslim community.

India offered a US$ 400m line of credit and a further US$ 50m to combat terrorism. The question is what to combat when there is no terrorism in the island. The only terrorism were the organized attacks on unarmed Muslims. These senseless attacks began in the aftermath of the defeat of LTTE in May 2009 continued with greater intensity in the wake of Easter Sunday massacre.

Narendra Modi is no angel of peace. He, as Gujarat Chief Minister, was accused of committing genocide on Guajarati Muslims in February 2002. He was declared persona non grata by most countries in the world including US and many other European countries. The irony is this very same Modi is Prime Minister of India and he speaks about terrorism?

In another development, days after President Gotabhaya said that he wanted to renegotiate the agreement on Hambantota port, China dispatched a high-level team perhaps to inform, that renegotiation was out of question.

In its wake American, Japanese and Russian high-level visitors arrived in Colombo and met President Gotabhaya with messages form their respective presidents.

This was followed by Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi’s visit. He declared in Colombo that “China won’t allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka. China would continue to stand by Sri Lanka’s interests as a strategic partner and for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.

Such a statement in the capital of Sri Lanka was shocking. However, there was no response from any one including those saffron patriots who claim sole ownership to the island and wanted to attain nibbana by inflicting pain on Muslims.

It is in these contexts one needs to view the Easter Sunday bombings, senseless killing in churches and hotels on 21 April 2019 and the vicious, suspected government backed, campaign which demonized the entire Muslim community and vilifying their religion-Islam.

Government ministers and Cardinal Rev Malcolm Ranjith, whose timely interference prevented a blood bath, repeatedly stated that the Muslim community had nothing to do with the carnage and have accused foreign forces of involvement.

However, to date the Maithri-Ranil’s former government which, deliberately or otherwise, failed to prevent this carnage, refused to disclose the foreign forces involved.

It is common knowledge that Israel and India have got together with United States and Europe to corner the entire Middle East and bring South Asia under their influence. The island’s mercenary media refuse to discuss these issues.

There is hardly a document dealing with the involvement of foreign forces here. This book – FOREIGN PRESENCE IN SRI LANKA – is an effort to fill this vacuum.