By The Asian Age –
The emerging Indo-American coalition to help the Sri Lankan Navy opens a new chapter in regional security.
The development could also trigger a fresh bout of political anger in Tamil Nadu, where all the prominent parties have been pressing Delhi to get tough with Colombo for not addressing the Tamil question.
Interestingly, the new teaming was announced not by India but by the Lankan foreign ministry in Colombo, which revealed that the development followed meetings that defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had with Indian defence minister A K Antony and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue happening in Singapore.
“As a coastal nation, the meetings recognised the pivotal role the Sri Lanka Navy could play in strengthening the security of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean”, said the Colombo statement, clearly indicating that the U.S and India have struck a deal with the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in Colombo to contain the fast-growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean under the pretext of protecting the sea lanes linking the Chinese factories to their mines in Africa.
And the Dragon has been spitting fire at any country, particularly India, trying to enter the South China Sea even for exploration of oil in collaboration with the Vietnamese, who too insist they have a stake in the region.
The Voice of America on Tuesday reported the Chinese Communist party-run People’s Daily newspaper slamming the US for revealing a plan to transfer the majority of American warships to the Asia-Pacific region by the end of the decade as part of the Obama administration’s ‘strategic re-balance’ toward Asia.
The paper said it “is plain for all to see” that the US has made China its target, saying this could “create schisms” in the region.
Defence analysts argue that this new India-US-Colombo axis could be extremely useful in containing the Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.
After all, the Chinese have been extra good to the Rajapaksa regime during the final phase of the Eelam war when they supplied the heavy artillery and other hardware that India could not provide due to opposition from the Tamil Nadu parties.
Also, one could hope that the Indian collaboration might ‘sober’ the Lankan Navy against attacking the Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Strait.