18 October, 2017

Sri Lankan Foreign Policy: Seeking Friends In Low Places

By Ananda Perera –

Sri Lanka plays host to Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz today and is signing two bilateral agreements on “establishing a joint commission on cooperation and an agreement on political bilateral consultation. Sri Lanka established formal diplomatic relations with Mauritania on Dec. 21, 2012, following a Cabinet decision in 2012 to establish diplomatic relations with 15 African countries[1]

Mohamed Ould Abdel AzizAbdel Aziz, a former military officer was elected president in 2009. He has previously been part of a military coup in 2005 and leading a military coup in 2008 which deposed the then democratically elected president, President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

As far as choosing one’s diplomatic partners Mauritania is an interesting choice. 90% of its landmass is part of the Sahara desert and more than 44% of the population live below $2 a day. Mauritania also is widely regarded as being one the worst violators of human rights in the world.

Most damningly, it has been described as the “slavery’s last stronghold” in the world[2]. The people estimated to be held in slavery is proportionally the highest for any country and slaves include opponents of the government. Some estimates suggest as many as 10% to 20% of the population (340,000 to 680,000 persons) is enslaved. It only outlawed slavery in 1981 and only criminalized the practice of slave owning under international pressure in 2007. So far there has only been 1 conviction against the widespread practice. In many cases “black moor” ethnic groups are slaves of the “white moor” groups and have been for generations. Other human rights concerns include child labour.

The current regime’s penchant for close ties with dubious allies (with both virtue and usefulness) has been demonstrated before. However, this may represent a new low for the floundering foreign policy of the Rajapaksas.


[1] http://www.news.lk/news/sri-lanka/item/4277-mauritania-president-to-visit-sri-lanka-today

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2012/03/world/mauritania.slaverys.last.stronghold/

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    Birds of a feather get together!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 3
      0

      Including Karuna Amman( He is also an Honourable Minister)

    • 1
      3

      What a bunch of intellectual bankrupts?

      So you want Sri Lanka to be friends only with slave masters and not those who suffered under slavery? Slaves are crooks and not the slave masters? Fook you.

      It is the Tamils who always spied for the British and Americans for crums who support idiotic ideas like these of “Ananda” Pereras of this world.

      We can only pray that God give brains to “Ananda” and banish the colonial spies from the island.

  • 8
    1

    Our man is quite uneasy to have even 10 min chat with respectable world leaders, we all know that. In the same context, our man is very comfortable talking to this kind of people.. In the other hand, Our great leader is using these kinds of leaders to take the stolen money out of SL.. Friendship with Seychelles, Belarus leaders are quite good examples.

  • 7
    2

    So, what’s new? This is in line with what this administration has been doing for a while. Maybe those at the Foreign Ministry (or whoever actually ‘calls the shots’) seem to think that making friends of countries like this in Africa and so on will help the government with their votes at international forums when SL comes under the microscope. (Of course, these moves also result in new embassies needing to be established, they need to be staffed, and there are enough favourites around to be appointed to them!)

    But what a myopic policy is this? What sense does it make to establish diplomatic relations at the highest level with countries with whom SL does not share much by way of trade or other significant interests? Also, the fact is that when it comes to the crunch many poor countries are easily ‘bought over’ by the richer nations. For instance, we have seen this happen time and again with the poor countries who vote with Japan when voting to ban/restrict whaling takes place. If by now the government has not realised that mere numbers won’t help at international forums, I wonder when it will. How often have resolutions critical of Israel been passed at international forums with sometimes the US being the only country supporting Israel? But the numbers alone have had little effect and Israel has been left untouched.

    What SL needs to have is a principled foreign policy, an even handed approach to all countries and to keep in good order the country’s relations with everyone. SL needs also to repair the fractured relationships with some of the western countries. SL has to take some of the blame for the poor state of relations with them. And the country also needs to set about putting its house in order if it is to avoid international criticism and censure.

    What’s so special about Mauritania that SL should seek its favour? Its CV as stated in this article hardly flatters, and let us not forget that old adage that you are often judged by the company you keep.

  • 8
    1

    Dr.Narendiran, you are absolutely correct. The government of Sri Lanka has no use for decent friends. President is invariably attracted to criminals, thugs, plunderers, violators of human rights, drug barons, gamblers, smugglers, notorious dictators, astrologers et al for they are the heroes who can help him make this country the Miracle of Asia!

    • 2
      1

      This is sort of on the job (further )training

      ” Birds of same feather f l (U) o ck together

  • 5
    0

    The picture says it all

    The Mauritania president is equally surprised by the attention he is getting in Sri Lanka. They both have the look of crooks. They deserve each other as friends.

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

    • 1
      2

      Navin

      Well done freedom of speech denied

  • 2
    0

    Sinhala Lanka under MR is drifting in the Indian Ocean and trying to cling on to anything that floats by. But MR is too far out in the sea to reach the shores. It is no longer a question of Sink or Swim but to put it bluntly SINK to the bottom of the Ocean and never to be seen again like MH370.

    • 1
      0

      Kali,

      It is wrong to make reference to MH370 in this context.

  • 0
    2

    What’s wrong Mauritania having slavery? After all Mauritania says it is a Muslim country. And Muslims live the way Prophet Muhammad did. And Muhammad had captured women in battle enslaved them and had sex with them. We do not object Muslims living the way they want in Muslim countries. So I do not see why Sri Lanka should not establish friendship with Mauritania.

    The other point, why don’t this writer check out how many people in Tamil Nad live with less than $2 a day and use culverts as toilets. Does that mean we should not have close relationship with India?

    • 0
      0

      mechanic

      “use culverts as toilets”

      They do have organic farms where psrrippu (lentil) is grown without which you won’t survive a day.

      “Does that mean we should not have close relationship with India?”

      In a way you are encouraging them to use their culvert toilets for growing your staple food.

  • 1
    0

    Seeking friends at low level is to be low as SL is no longer to the standards of the High in the International Community because the High know the truth about war crimes and Tamil Genocide and not the “L0w”.

  • 0
    0

    U all fail, SL get milit training from high y civilised not from the lows and observe the teaching in practice. ha ha

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