By Latheef Farook –
Unlike in the past powerful external forces are bound to play significant roles in influencing the forthcoming 8 January 2015 presidential elections marked by dramatic changes unfolding almost on a daily basis. This trend was triggered off ever since Health Minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena shocked the nation by crossing over to the opposition to become the opposition common candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections.
Many foreign powers, struggling to get a foothold in Sri Lanka in view of its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, have entered the scene. They had done so very successfully. Certainly they would support a candidate who would not only help ensure their presence, but also facilitate and enhance the implementation of their own agendas in the island.
Most notable among them are the Peoples Republic of China, neighboring India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel which managed to enter the island and penetrate many fields as part of their global agenda.
China, for example, emerged as a global economic and military power during the past three decades had managed to enter the vast and lucrative markets in the Middle East, Europe and United states .China has successfully entered African countries and established close political, economic and military ties with its multibillion dollar investment projects besides providing loan facilities and exploiting the natural resources.
As a result China’s economic interests have expanded rapidly and its naval interest has spread across the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles .In a related development China also plans to invest around 40 billion dollars to develop its “New Silk Road”, in its intercontinental land routes and maritime links through central Asia.
During the past nine years China, under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, managed to get a strong foothold in Sri Lanka .Today the situation is such that it is almost impossible for the island to extricate itself from the Chinese grip.
Under the circumstance China would certainly do everything possible to ensure President Mahinda Rajapaksa remains in power.
On the other hand the growing Chinese presence in the island is a serious concern for neighboring India whose involvement in the ethnic conflict turned the island into a killing field.
Highlighting Indian concern over growing Chinese presence in the island Rtd Brigadier Rahul Bonsle, Director of Asian Security Risk Consultancy firm” Security Risk Asia stated in an interview with Ceylon Today on Monday 1 December 2014” that;
“the Chinese PLA Navy’s intention to gain exposure to the waters of the Indian Ocean for future operations is a big worry for Indian Navy. More over reports indicate that the PLA Navy has exclusive berthing rights at the port in Colombo and also in Hambantota, which effectively implies entry, exit and stocking including fuel and munitions over which Sri Lanka has no control”.
Indicating the growing alarm bell in New Delhi India’s National Security Advisor Dr Ajit Kumar Doval called for a demilitarized Indian Ocean following the visits of several Chinese submarines to Colombo.
In a special discussion program on Sri Lankan Presidential elections in the “ India’s Want” television, former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal said that” Indian won’t be too unhappy to see President Mahinda Rajapaksa go”. They pointed out that China has emerged as the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka and this cannot be reversed. However when economic projects take naval proposition Indian is forced to take delicate decisions. They also discussed the 13th amendment, Sri Lanka’s failure to implement the agreement despite repeated assurances and emphasized the need for its implementation as agreed.
In fact before President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed office Sri Lanka was almost like an Indian satellite state with government and opposition politicians rushing to India to get New Delhi’s blessings on the island’s internal issues.
This scenario changed altogether during President Mahinda Rajapaksa regime as he never allowed Indian interference in the island’s internal affairs.
However, anticipating a rightwing Bharathiya Janatha Party Hindutva government in India the Sri Lankan government has been cultivating for sometimes BJP and its parent body Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh-RSS known for their extreme anti Muslim agendas and violence. There were frequent BJP-RSS visitors to the island.
It is common knowledge that India would always like to have Sri Lanka under its influence.
Equally the island remains important to United States which, with its ambitious global regime change program to rule and loot the world resources, has been invading countries, destroying developed infrastructures, indiscriminately killing millions of innocent people and driving out many more millions who lived happily to refugee camps to live in appalling conditions.
The US also needs a presence in the island to counter the growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean to enter the emerging Asian markets.
The US government’s hostility to Sri Lanka has been an open secret ever since the military defeat of LTTE in May 2009 .Citing a special media briefing that was convened by the SLFP at the party headquarters after the common candidate was named columnist Jehan Perera had this to state in an article under the title “good governance is inclusive devolution of power”;
“The defection of ruling party members to the opposition were described as yet another “link in the chain of foreign conspiracies that seek to destabilize this country. There have been certain countries that have pumped money into this scheme through their embassies to establish a puppet regime in Sri Lanka. We warn them to put a stop to these activities,”
“The allegation of an international conspiracy against the country has gained currency due to the unrelenting international human rights campaign to put the government into the dock on the issue of war crimes. The government has pointed out that Sri Lanka is one of a handful of countries to be selected for focused attention by the UN Human Rights Council, while other countries with worse records have not been similarly pursued. This argument has resonance amongst most Sri Lankans who are deeply skeptical about the genuineness of international concern about the country and its people. However, whether accusing the opposition and the common candidate of this offense is going to be taken seriously by the general masses of people is another matter? The decision of the Sinhalese nationalist JHU to break ranks with the government undermines the government’s case regarding an international conspiracy”.
Then come the increasing presence in the island of Israel which wields considerable political and economic influence in United States, United Kingdom and Europe and shape political decisions there.
Israel, established in the robbed Palestinians lands, has been trying since mid 1950s to enter Sri Lanka .Every time Israel managed to sneak into the the island through backdoor it was expelled through front door.
The reason being not only Sri Lanka, but most developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America detest Israeli presence in their countries in view of its crime records, continuous lawlessness and its history of destabilizing countries where it entered.
Israel has traditionally been the supporter of pro west United National Party. However in view of the recognition and facilities they enjoy under the present regime Israel is likely to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Equally important is the Tamil Diaspora which has established influential lobbies in several Western countries and certainly would do everything to bring down President Mahinda Rajapaksa.