21 November, 2018

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Watching Syria, Seeing Sri Lanka 

By Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7th at the UN Security Council’s emergency ‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka, although the actual circumstances of the UN’s engagement with the two countries are very different.

Only one thing seemed alarmingly similar. It seemed like a set up.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind the now famous theatrical display of a vial of anthrax by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the same venue to warn the Council of the imminent danger that lay before the world from WMDs in Iraq.

It was only a matter of time before one of the members would hold up a photograph of that particular shameful attempt, and so it happened at the hands of the Bolivian Ambassador/Permanent Representative Sacha Lorenty who proved that there are still good men left in the world, taking on every irrational argument by the West, and quoting his President Evo Morales’ condemnation of the US strike on Syria, even though Bolivia had no dog in this fight. He stood up for the principles that all those Security Council members had signed up to.

The Russian Deputy Ambassador inevitably referred to the 2003 ‘Anthrax episode’ as well, since the Security Council session’s target for verbal recriminations by US, UK and France was more Russia than Syria. He made it a point to warn Britain not to even try to get into a war in the Middle East because in that part of the world they remember, he said, Britain’s colonial hypocrisy.

Ambassador Nikki Haley, new to diplomacy, and apparently new to due process, insisted that “while the Syrian regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack, it is not the only guilty party.” Really? Had the UN completed its investigations? It hadn’t. Is the new world order ‘Post-UN’ as well as ‘Post-Truth’? She continued: “The Iranian government bears a heavy responsibility. It has propped up and shielded Syria’s brutal dictator for years.” Oh please. In this digital age where information (including about past decades) flows freely, when it comes to propping up brutal dictators, which country comes to mind first?

The Bolivian ambassador helpfully reminded the Security Council about the overthrow of Allende in Chile and the training, sponsorship and support to brutal military juntas throughout Latin America. Add to that the more recent practice of propping up ‘moderate rebels’ who then turn into moderate terrorists.

Is this looking like an improved way of conducting international relations? Could this become the new norm? Aren’t we lucky that the world is increasingly multipolar? And bless those vetoes! Listening to the UK Permanent Representative’s outrage and indignation at Russia for blocking sanctions on Syria, one had to wonder if the UN was not to play any role at all, except to provide the room, the table and chairs for the Western Big Powers to indulge in their prejudgments while bullying the rest into compliance.

Russia was in the process of negotiating a resolution for a credible investigation to gather facts about what actually happened in Idlib, Syria, when the Trump attack took place. Isn’t an impartial UN investigation necessary anymore? As the Bolivian Ambassador explained at the media stakeout at the UN on April 7th, the Security Council could not be expected to accept without question the findings of the intelligence agencies of those states that were opposed to the Syrian regime.

The US missile attack flouted a number of provisions in international law. The Security Council is meant to prevent threats to international peace and security. And here were three of the five permanent members cheering on the violation of the sovereignty of another country and verbally carpet bombing Russia for not agreeing with them.

No sane person would condone chemical attacks. Not even after the most powerful state in the world set a terrible example in the in the 1960s and 1970s in a failed attempt to bring a poor Asian state to heel. Whatever the color of the chemical agent (sorry, defoliant), the perpetrators need to be stopped, once they are properly identified. But all within agreed norms and standards. I daresay UN standards. I would go further: those who have been recognized as past perpetrators could even be made to apologize and compensate the victims. That would surely stop future miscreants.

Was the US missile attack on Syria meant to be R2P? That requires sanction from the Security Council. It wasn’t even sought. It was completely unilateral. Take a bow, President Trump.

It’s frightening how similar this is turning out to be to like the story line of the ongoing Season Six of the TV series ‘Homeland’ (with Claire Dane as Carrie Mathieson and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson). The plot is scarily simple. The newly elected President tries to go independent of the ‘Deep State’. The Deep State carries out false flag attacks. The President tries valiantly to resist the pressure from the media and more personal threats from the Security Establishment with the help of dissenting elements within it. But she seems doomed to failure and the Deep State destined to win. As on TV, so in life. (The US version is an adaptation of an original Israeli TV series and book.)

Sri Lanka faced similarly outraged diplomats from the West in 2009. The then British FM was particularly passionate, flying across to the US in April 2009 to lobby then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was later discovered that Minister Miliband had ‘electoral compulsions’ which drove this effort, when his top aide admitted this to a ranking US diplomat in London who cabled it to Washington (the world read it courtesy WikiLeaks).

Seeing how the West brings in its full arsenal including its control of global media into play to support its interests, the unqualified thwarting of their concerted efforts to put Sri Lanka in the dock at the UN in Geneva in 2009 for its victorious war against LTTE terrorism, is a singular achievement. I can hardly believe now, that nearly two thirds of the UNHRC voted with Sri Lanka, despite the West’s best efforts, including the personal involvement of the powerful Secretary of State and future presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Since then we have seen the West’s escalation on the Sri Lanka issue at the UNHRC, imposing resolution after resolution requiring War Crimes related inquires, first on a hapless postwar Rajapaksa administration without a clue as to how to respond to the combined onslaught from Human Rights lobbies, Diaspora groups, and powerful states which later included our neighbor India, and then on the new Yahapalana administration which laps up every indignity with relish.

Viewing the live TV coverage of the April 7th debate on Syria at the UNSC, it looked like hypocrisy has now evolved to even greater heights (or descended to even greater depths) in those very same powers who are attempting discredit Sri Lanka’s war of reunification of this island, a third of which was under separatist terrorists. The unilateral missile attack by the US on a sovereign country while resolutions were being negotiated at the UN and peace talks were on-going in Geneva, was hailed by Western allies for being ‘restrained’. That makes it alright then.

This is the level of cynicism that Sri Lanka will face at every UN forum from those influential countries, with regard to Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE. With a “Unity” government intent on being seen as compliant in the extreme to all comers, embracing every hypocritical suggestion as to the methods and modalities of investigation, undermining our own existing judicial mechanisms, what are our chances?

Are there people in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic service capable of defending Sri Lanka’s armed forces from this travesty that is ongoing, and worse planned for it in those forums? If there are, would they be willing to be sacked for their pains?

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  • 15
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    Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

    Hindians are sending their Trojan Horse this time in the form of 8 water browsers and 100 metric ton of rice. Hope you and Dayan remember the Chappatti flour air drop in 1987.

  • 36
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    Lady,

    To hell with UN, Hilary, UNCHR, ……….. all the outsiders, all our detractors.

    As a nation, to cleanse our nation’s soul, all of us Lankans have to face a simple question; did our forces kill our own citizens?

    Unless you were born yesterday, you know the answer.

    The national question is not …… how do we come-up with elaborate schemes to protect the culprits but how do we face the truth!

    To hell with the outsiders, as citizens of Sri Lanka how do we resolve our own brutality to our own citizens?

    Do we say they were Tamils, so they don’t count? Do we say they were JVP, so they don’t count?

    Forget the bloody outsiders, how do we handle the truth for the sake of our own nation? Any thoughts? Any write-ups? Any past school essays?

    Just to let you know, if you don’t know, there were many exemplary soldiers who never even remotely were accused of war-crimes. Including a close relative of mine who eventually became the Army commander. When he was rising through the ranks few times tendered his resignation when troops under him behaved badly. He was no Sun Tzu; a lousy army man, but he like many others was a officer and a gentleman. Perhaps you and Dayan don’t know the true meaning of gentleman – it goes a little beyound how one is dressed; smart or not :). But that’s a whole different shindig.

    But, the truth is, if you can face it, there were many who committed war crimes against our own citizens.

    How do we face it? Do we bury our heads in the sand and pretend it never happened? Do we lie through our teeth and tell the world they are all manufactured lies?

    You are the experts, so, just in few simple words tell us how we should cleanse the soul of our nation?

    You’re A Big Girl Now – Dylan

    • 12
      7

      Well said.
      Always nice to read your frank and honest comments.Thank you.

    • 7
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      Nimal, thanks and you put it so nicely. I doubt many Sinhalese journalists and others understand.

  • 3
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    [Edited out]
    Singing for supper

    Children slaughtered with nerve gas – my foot.

  • 11
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    Lady,
    Are you a mother?
    It looks like you want Assad/Putin to slaughter little babies with nerve gas?
    I am disappointed that Trump did not bomb the hell out of Assad’s home kill the murderer of innocent babies.
    Nikki Haley’s dramatic display! That is how normal human beings reacts to a such a gruesome crime.
    Just stay out of U.S. politics which you seem to know very little and stick to playing games in Sri Lanka

  • 13
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    Dear Sanja,
    At the very end of your peroration there is this inscrutable sentence:
    “Are there people in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic service capable of defending Sri Lanka’s armed forces from this travesty that is ongoing, and worse planned for it in those forums? If there are, would they be willing to be sacked for their pains?”
    Does this refer to your husband being sacked after his (according to you)”the unqualified thwarting of their concerted efforts to put Sri Lanka in the dock at the UN in Geneva in 2009″? If so, who exactly was responsible for this vile act? Why is your husband still hanging on to that Great Redeemer?
    As for the references to a “deep state”, surely it was not MS that was running it?
    Dear lady, you were not born yesterday. Neither were we.

  • 11
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    Just another Mahavamsa Madam trying to protect our brave forces which won the war from their infamy. These guys are a killing machine. They killed during the JVP uprising and got away with it. They killed during the Tamil wars and are ready to kill, rape and maim again and again. There is are blots in our history which have to be erased.

    The fact that the moron Trump and the muscleman Putin are onto their games does not mean that what happened in Syria had to be condemned as much as what happened in Sri Lanka many times over has to be condemned. Big power politics have to be isolated from all this. We must ensure that a deterrent is built against savagery wherever it takes place, whether by the US, Russia, India or China or by our armed forces. There is a human rights movement though it too works only in the context of power politics. But, its essentially good elements should be deployed to ensure that excesses are corrected and a deterrence is built up against cruelty. Why be Buddhist if that be not so? The appeal is not to baser instincts in the manner US or other foreign policy is conducted but to the goodness in all humans in building up a world in which such cruelty is dispensed with.

    So, it is necessary for Tamil and JVP mothers to know what happened to the young people who were surrendered to the army. It is necessary to know whether the army killed civilians indiscriminately. It is necessary to know whether torture was used against suspects and the extent of the injuries caused. Do not shroud these matters by sounding so high. What happened in our backyard over the years is more important for us though what happens to humanity elsewhere is of equal importance. We must avoid becoming pawns of the different powers that be and put our own house in order.

  • 4
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    Even if your argument that the justification for the Syrian attack amounts to propaganda is true, (and I don’t know that it is given that none of us have a US security clearance), that’s all the more reason why Sri Lankan diplomats should exercise extreme caution when dealing with their US counterparts. Otherwise, the next set of Tomahawk missiles could land in Nugegoda instead of in Idlib province. The primary responsibility of Sri Lankan diplomats is to prevent the United States from taking military action in Sri Lanka. I hope they take this responsibility seriously, otherwise the fools are going to get us all killed.

  • 6
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    “Friday April 7th at the UN Security Council’s emergency ‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka” Cuban Communist Thero

    Let’s think of Lankawe with Thero for few minutes.

    “while the Syrian regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack, it is not the only guilty party.” Really?
    Who is Sandhya? Who is Eklinegoda. Who Killed him? Why?

    “Had the UN completed its investigations?” Come on man? Forgot the promise given to UNSG in Colombo in 2009 and UNHRC in May 2009? Didn’t we write essays to indicate that, that is how one dodge UNHRC by giving open ended promises so that no need to make any real investigation forever, but foolishly Yahapalanaya is agreeing for specifics? Is that a call President Trump also should have waited beyond 2027 like poor Sampanthar still thinking UNHRC is going to make arrangement to investigation?

    “Oh please. In this digital age where information (including about past decades) flows freely, “ Ooooohhhhh….. Pppplllleeeaaaasssseee….. don’t lose the UNHRC victory of Zero casualty campaigne’ confidence so quickly…..What if the people see the video of murderers raping the corpse of girls? They forget …or may not believe their own eyes… video expect can go wrong….There are thousand defences

    Is this looking like an improved way of conducting international relations?” If not, can’t you shoot 750 Tamil Indian Fishermen to improve the relationship with Sonia and Manmohan Singh? Can you skip taking to Manmohan Singh in New York’s UN meeting?

    They say in Tamil the dog bit the man started at goat, and then the cow, then now at Human being. Russia, who shot a passenger plane of 300 innocents victims from Netherland to Malaysia, to test its high flying missile, is protecting international laws? This is the exact Thero’s Zero Casualty explanation at UNHRC in 2009 after killing 157,000 innocent Tamil victims but made LTTE as terrorist for targeting Military places and objects as main other than tit for tat raids.

    …………
    …………

    Usual Rubbish

    Another cheat without any regards to readers, one writes another one posts!

  • 0
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  • 3
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    Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka’s angst over happenings in Syria came out of humane considerations tinged with interpretations. Some of the commenters must re-examine their conscience.

    The infamous Lankan civil war was won with the help of US, India, China and others. The liberation movements emerged because of the actions of successive GoSL.

    From independence in 1948, a specter of invasion by India with help from Tamils was raised and maintained. Liberation movements were an inevitable consequence.

    Now the Syrian predicament is being used via “the impending US invasion of SL”.

    India, US, past colonial powers found the liberation movements unpalatable Why? The idealism and dedication of the liberation movements were not to their liking. The liberation movement successfully imposed a just society and rule of law. It is widely accepted that the people felt very secure in their administration. The puppeteers found this strange and wanted change to the status quo of corruption, nepotism and culture of impunity. Rest is history.

    The sooner we realise that US, India and China are jockeying to hold Lanka to ransom the better.

  • 0
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  • 2
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    “Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka”

    It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7th at the UN Security Council’s emergency ‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka,

    then you goon to say

    US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind ….

    and then you change track..

    The chemical bombing of the Tamils in the N Fire Zone, and the video images and photos of burnt out Tamil children, old men and women, pregnant women etc etc by the Rajspakse regime must have must have popped in front of you …?

    crossed your mind.

    Kudos to US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s .

    Shame no one was/is there in the UN to hold up the photos of burnt out Tamil children

    • 10
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      Rajesh,

      Stop shedding crocodile tears over Tamil children and women. Your g0d Prabakoron wanted so many Tamils dead so he could get the attention from world, now you getting it.

      [Edited out]

      • 8
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        Johnny boy

        VP dead and gone. Many Sinhala/Buddhist bigots wished him in hell. I never been to hell nor have met anyone who had returned from it hence I don’t know if it exists or not.

        Prabaharan fought the IPKF with baby brigade as well. Why weren’t the Sinhala/Buddhists (You, somass, ……) silent then?

        VP was a terrorist but he was your terrorist when he fought the Hindian army.

        By the way were your armed forces hiding behind VP’s bum or behind women folks?

        Please grow up.

        Grow up.

  • 0
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    • 2
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      Johnny boy

      Brilliant.

      Yet you got to grow up.

  • 5
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    I mentioned Syria on this website some time ago. At that time, what I said was, if a country is divided, and if foreign powers are involved in such a division, then it is very difficult to re-unite the country again. Some obvious examples are Indonesia/East Timor, the former Yugoslavia, India/Pakistan, and Palestine/Israel. One could even add North & South Korea to the list, given the American involvement in that region. Luckily, Rajapakses were around to prevent such a division in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
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    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words.Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 2
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    The reason why Trump, who bragged that it was going to be “America first” and that he will not be focusing on other nations, suddenly decided to lob tomahawk missiles into Syria, was not because he felt any compassion for those poor little children, who once again suffer the consequences of these war games, it was because his poll numbers are lowest for any President during the first 100 days, there are investigations into his wiretapping accusations (proven to be lies), the fact that many in his administration, including his son in law, have been caught having secretive meetings and calls with Russian agents, many have already resigned or removed from their positions already, nepotism, giving his son in law and daughter important roles in the West Wing, when they have NO clue about running a nation, having never worked for public office, and the never ending corruption that has haunted the Trump White House. It will be hard to Trump to convince anyone that he was compassionate, when he cold heartedly REFUSED to take these very same children into the US, when they wanted shelter from the violence. In the US all a President has to do to get popular is drop a few bombs, or lob a few missiles into a Muslim nation. The media, Congress, and the American people, now think he is very “presidential”,and tough. Easy.

  • 0
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    IV

    Pathetic thing about all this is that you are plumbing all these depths just to get a life in the west and enjoy some perks which are comparable to the luxury thousands of Tamils (and Sinhalese too, but I am saying Tamils since you love to hate them, may be except Perumaal) enjoy in the west by legitimate means. The doctors, the engineers, the professors who have made it in life without having to sell corpses of dead children (And no, most of them do NOT wash toilets for a living, as your tribal followers claim to hide their jealousy). That is, unless, you are not satisfied with the legitimate perks of a third-world diplomat or foreign minister, and, by corruption, are prepared to sell also the dead bodies of Sinhalese children, which would be a plausible outcome since the island has already been sucked dry by your masters, and if they return to power, they will drag the economy down so much that death by hunger in Sinhalese villages will not be a far fetched scenario. But I guess you will do just that, and eat your slice of corruption cake with unconcealed glee, and it is that you are hungry for now.

    [Edited out]

  • 0
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  • 0
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    I

    [Edited out]And looking at the title, ‘looking at Syria and seeing Sri Lanka’, I thought that the noble lady was talking about the Tamil children in Vanni who were burned to death by banned chemical weapons, but reading a bit further that does not seem to be the case. So looking at the title, name and photo, my head is already going round. But then, I am not a ‘smart’ patriot, so I guess I should expect to be confused a little by the smart ones.

    [Edited out]

  • 1
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    Why is US trying to police the world? Haven’t they got enough on their plate with crime in their own country.Syria is in good hand of secular Assad. No pipe line for gas through that country for the benefit of the gulf states and not for annexation a part of Syria for another country.
    If they don’t watch it, the fat boy of North Korea could drop in..

  • 0
    0

    I’d love to see a world without greed!

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