By H. L. D. Mahindapala –
One should be rather wary of taking on Mr. Izeth Hussein because he claims to be one the five great diplomats of the world. With such self-proclaimed credentials – he has yet to name the other four greats which will indicate the true measure of his greatness! – one expects his justification for Siri-Wicky regime’s co-sponsorship of the latest UNHRC Resolution, (see Colombo Telegraph – 10/10), to be a solid counterweight to silence the rising opposition to it. But all what he has done is to add the concept of “sovereignty” to his list of harams. Earlier he said haram to President Mahinda Rajapaksa kissing the tarmac when he alighted from his plane at Katunayake airport, celebrating the victory over the Tamil Tiger terrorists. He said kissing the tarmac (an imported product) was haram. Instead he wanted Rajapaksa do what the Caliph who conquered Constantinople did : bathe in sand.
His phobia/hatred of the majority makes every aspect of the Sinhala-Buddhist culture haram to him. Demonizing the Sinhala-Buddhists/majority constitute the A – Izeth of his politics. But his hollow haramic Imamifications (a la pontifications) do not elevate him to even the level of successful Muslim vendor – and there are great many of them who served the Sinhala villages with care and friendliness – let alone the quarter-baked diplo-mutts who write jejune background papers to guide the leaders of the nation in international fora. His latest piece justifying Siri-Wicky regime’s co-sponsorship of the American-instigated UNHRC resolution is no better than one of those sophomoronic papers that comes out of the External Affairs Ministry these days – papers that make the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, moan about the quality of the background papers prepared by the External Affairs ministry.
Take, for instance, Mr. Hussein’s argument which states that sovereignty is a moribund concept and the steady erosion of state sovereignty in recent decades makes interference in the internal affairs of states as the reigning norm. He says: “The golden principle theoretically guiding international relations was that there should not be any interference in the internal affairs of states. But the notion of sovereignty underwent a sea-change in the course of the centuries, and there has been a steady erosion of state sovereignty in recent decades.” Therefore, he says Sri Lankans should accept the UNHRC Resolution initiated by America and its allies on their bended knees because (1) sovereignty is no longer valid and (2) surrendering sovereignty, or what is left of it, is good for the people.
In other words, he says : “Goodbye sovereignty and independence. Hello and welcome interfering, neo-colonial Big Brothers who would not hesitate to kick Mr. Hussein’s bunkum theoretical harams to thy kingdom come, if UNHRC dares to apply similar resolutions to them.” Mr. Hussein obviously cannot distinguished between the neo-colonialism of Big Brothers muscling in to impose their will on small powers and the transnational commercial crossings of trade in the global market without borders. He is confusing the globalization of market forces breaking down the old word with the political neo-colonialism invading the Westphalian nation-states which are here to stay in the foreseeable future, even when the regional unions (example : EU) incorporate nation-states into one mega-market. France and Germany, for instance, still remain as sovereign states without surrendering their sovereignty to their Big Brother, USA. In another successful response, UK is resisting with all its might to retain its sovereignty despite the gravitational pull of the EU market.
The meshing of market forces is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the crossing of political forces. Marginal accommodation of the market forces crossing across foreign borders does not constitute a loss of sovereignty as long as it is mutually beneficial which is normally the case in the market place. Market forces have crossed borders from time immemorial to share resources, exchange know-how and talent and equalises the competing factors to a level play ground. This is not the same as political forces moving in to occupy territory and impose its will. Loss of sovereignty occurs when one nation loses its territory, independence and power to another. When there is equality to compete in the global market there is a balancing of forces. When the market forces open up opportunities for all to grow – and that is what has been happening in the expansion of the global market since the caravans traversed the Silk Route, or sailed into Hambantota – the exchange of goods, services and cultures have contributed to the concept of the one world which is vastly different from the domination of an alien group who impose its political will on indigenous communities. Competition in an open market levels the playing field. When every one gives and takes willingly for the benefit of all there is no loss of sovereignty. Loss of sovereignty is when powers / resources are taken against the will of all for the benefit of the aliens abroad.
Besides, nothing has changed in international law to change the fundamental rights of sovereign states. There are still 193 sovereign flags flying at the UN declaring that they are alive and kicking, despite haramic Imamifications of Bunkum Singhos like Mr. Hussein. To justify his case, can this one-in-five-great diplomat give an example of where US, UK, India, to take only three examples, have followed his hysterical harams and surrendered their sovereignty to external forces? Can he cite one example of a Big Power which has surrendered its sovereignty to another in areas that cut into curb/override the powers of their judiciaries, legislatures and executives? Which foreign judges were invited by US to try his fellow-Muslims held in Guantanamo Bay without a trial or charges levelled against them? When the ICJ gave judgment against Ronald Reagan’s covert war in Nicaragua US refused to comply. Is that proof of sovereignty eroding as claimed in the fanciful theories of Mr. Hussein? If, as he says, overwhelming external forces have eroded the sovereignty of nation states why has UN failed to force its will on India to accept UN resolutions on Kashmir – a haunting left over of Gandhi-Nehruvian politics that has been plaguing regional peace since 1948, making it one of the longest running issues of the UN, as old as post-independent India itself?
Besides, Mr. Hussein’s own fellow-Muslims are being massacred on a mass scale in Kashmir. If, as he says, human rights resolutions are good for the people and bad only for governments why doesn’t he tell the Kashmiris that the best thing that has happened to them, since Islam came to India, has been the calculated act of India kicking the UN resolutions on Kashmir into graves of innocent Kashmiri civilians? Will he tell the Kashmiris that they must surrender to the will of Big Power politics because UN resolutions are good for the Kashmiris who are thrown into mass graves by India’s eroded sovereignty?
A.C. S. Hameed, the then Foreign Minister, assessed Hussein correctly and put him in his place. One has only to read Mr. Hussein’s justification for co-sponsoring the UNHRC Resolution accusing Sri Lanka to understand why Hameed locked him up in a backroom and threw the keys away. Which sensible minister for instance, would want a paper which states : “A Resolution on human rights is critical of the Government, not of the people, for violating the rights of the people. It is absurd therefore to think of a Resolution that is critical of the Government over human rights as anti-Sri Lankan. It should appropriately be regarded as pro-Sri Lankan. The confusion has arisen because of simplistic notions about sovereignty.”
According to Mr. Hussein it doesn’t matter whether there are “a hundred and one infirmities” in the UNHRC report. His thinking is that those infirmities too are good for the people of Sri Lanka because he says so. In the same breath he admits that the UNHRC is “notorious for its double standards” and also “for giving priority to interests over human rights.” If so how can this UNHRC be “in earnest, or at least partly in earnest, about the promotion of human rights, and that is something of real benefit to the oppressed of the earth”? He has chosen not to mention the corrupt history of this body. It is the only branch of the UN which was dismantled because of its failure to uphold the founding principles. The Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, wrote a damning report condemning the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR),the predecessor of UNHRC. He condemned it selectivity and politicization. To correct the flaws the Commission was dissolved in 2006 and the present Council was set up. Its mandate is derived from General Assembly Resolution 60/251. One of its main failures of UNCHR was the lack of even handedness and disproportionate scrutiny of certain states. Scholars and critics attributed the demise of the UNCHR for its failure to fulfil its mandate.
The task of UNHRC was not to commit the mistakes of its predecessor, UNCHR. But it is going down the identical path of its predecessor determined by partisan Big Power politics. The undue proportion of scrutiny of Sri Lanka, driven by US, has bedevilled Sri Lanka’s international relations too. It was on display from the the word go. The war ended on May 19, 2009. On May 26, Ms. Navi Pillay came on UNHRC screen, because she was not able to be present in person, and accused Sri Lanka of war crimes and crimes against humanity without a substantial UN report to back her case. Within seven days of the war ending no one could have had a credible assessment of the ground situation. At the UN itself officials from Ban ki Moon’s office admitted that they had no means of counting the victims / the dead. The only report they had was from Gordon Weiss, the UN representative in Colombo. He assessed that the number of dead to be around 7,000. Subsequently, the only count conducted by the Government of Sri Lanka, based on the UN stipulated census rules, arrived at a figure close to 7,000. In round figures it came near to 10,000. But after Weiss went to Australia to write his book he jacked the figure to 40,000. When he was questioned at a meeting in Melbourne he too admitted that there was no counting the dead and brought down the figure to 10,000.
In the first report of Navi Pillay she had no solid basis to accuse Sri Lanka. The latest report of Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, according to Hussein, is no better. It is riddled with “a hundred and one infirmities” which can mean factual and statistical inaccuracies, falsifications, untested statements and biases that do not correspond to the ground realities. If the base Report is faulty then how can the Resolution, which is based on the faulty Report, be valid for the signatories, including Sri Lanka, to take action? What are the chances of this Report based “on a hundred and one infirmities” launching justice? Is this the Report on which the Sri Lankans are to be judged and punished? Can the 100+1 infirmities in the al-Hussein’s Report and Resolution lead to the truth?
Besides, why is there this “disproportionate scrutiny” of Sri Lanka? Why did the Resolution 2015 mention the Resolutions of 2012, 2013 and 2014 but not the Resolution of 2009 which commended Sri Lanka? In the last days of the war the Western powers, driven by the electoral clout of the Tamil diaspora, were moving heaven and earth at the UN trying to stop the war – something that their generals would never dare to do if they too were on a winning streak. Besides, ending the needless violence was yearning of the war-weary people. Irrespective of the consequences to the people, NGO wallahs like “Paki Saravanamuttu too were jumping from Western capital to capital urging international intervention to save Prabhakaran.
But they failed in their desperate moves to sway the Security Council or the UN to intervene. The anti-Sri Lankan forces couldn’t push it beyond the basement level of the UN. It was then that the failed West shifted their battleground to UNHRC in Geneva abandoning New York. Here too they failed in 2009, defeated by the counter-attack led by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. It was the subsequent intervention of the American that reversed the first UNHRC Resolution. Whose interests did it serve? One of the arguments for moving a country-specific resolution against Sri Lanka was to warn/prevent states from violating human rights in the last stages of a war. If that is real reason then why has Zeid al-Hussein not produced a report to the UNHRC when there is solid evidence of America bombing the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan? Al-Hussein in Geneva undermines the human rights of his fellow-Muslims in Yemen. Our local Hussein in Colombo defends his namesake in Geneva saying that UNHRC is acting “in earnest, or at least partly in earnest, about the promotion of human rights, and that is something of real benefit to the oppressed of the earth”? He can tell that to Yemenis, Kashmiris and the marines also.
The double standards of both Husseins stink to high heaven. If the local Hussein thinks that UNHRC resolutions are ‘’good for the people” what makes him reject the UNHRC Resolution of 2009 and accept with both hands the American sponsored Resolution of 2015? Does the goodness depend on who sponsors it? Or should the goodness be judged by the goodness of its contents and consequences? Also when the contents of two Resolutions passed by the same Council differ how does Hussein judge which resolution is good for the people? Is it the rehashed anti-Sri Lankan Resolution which the external forces have been pushing to impose their will through their willing partners in Sri Lanka? Or will he choose the Resolution which won the applause of friends and allies abroad and the people at home?
Even with his level of knowledge of foreign affairs he should know that the global mess in post-World War II is proportionately related to American interventions, all done with good intentions, of course. The ISIS is the latest product of American interventions in the Middle-East. Joby Warrick shows in his book Black Flags : the rise of Isis how the fanaticism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who masterminded the Islamist movement, emerged from the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama. He led the ISIS movement which grabbed huge swaths of Syria and Iraq and now America is stuck in the sands of Middle-East at a time when the American strategists are aiming to scale down their involvement.
Right now Sri Lanka too is poised on “the good intentions” of America – and, of course, that of the two Husseins too. This is ominous because close involvements with America lead to either ISISian black flags or Taliban terror wherever they operate. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that America’s contribution to global peace has been as great as that of contribution of Henry Kissinger, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Vietnam War.
Question : If Kissinger is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize ending the Vietnam War by dropping more bombs than in World War II why are the Sri Lankans awarded, with the good will of both Husseins, a commission of inquiry for ending of the longest war in Asia which not only saved 300,000 Tamils held in Prabhakaran’s gulag but also restored democracy by ending the fascist dictatorship of the most obscene and cruellest Tamil dictator? According to him saving the Tamils from the fascist dictator who had killed more Tamils than all the other combatants put together is treating them “like dirt”.
PS : Isn’t it time for him to come down from the trees and get a sound grip of the ground realities, eh Mr. Hussein? By the way, please don’t forget to mention the other four great diplomats in your reply. Thanks.
In a thrilling dramatic narrative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents.
When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. In Black Flags, an unprecedented character-driven account of the rise of ISIS, Joby Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Zarqawi began by directing terror attacks from a base in northern Iraq, but it was the American invasion in 2003 that catapulted him to the head of a vast insurgency. By falsely identifying him as the link between Saddam and bin Laden, U.S. officials inadvertently spurred like-minded radicals to rally to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings persisted until American and Jordanian intelligence discovered clues that led to a lethal airstrike on Zarqawi’s hideout in 2006.
His movement, however, endured. First calling themselves al-Qaeda in Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, his followers sought refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, and as the U.S. largely stood by, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.
Drawing on unique high-level access to CIA and Jordanian sources, Warrick weaves gripping, moment-by-moment operational details with the perspectives of diplomats and spies, generals and heads of state, many of whom foresaw a menace worse than al Qaeda and tried desperately to stop it. Black Flags is a brilliant and definitive history that reveals the long arc of today’s most dangerous extremist threat