From LTTE to USA – Does Sri Lanka need a new war?

In May 2009 Sri Lanka sighed with relief as its armed forces defeated the internationally proscribed terrorist-LTTE bringing to an end 30 years of terror. It took the 5thPresident to order his troops to defeat the LTTE while the defense secretary at the time has now become Sri Lanka’s 7thPresident and most of the ground commanders are now holding top posts in the present government. With LTTE’s defeat Sri Lanka began a new chapter. The people were all in agreement that they did not wish to have any future war & they never wanted to live in fear.That feeling was short lived as a result of the 2015 weak governance that undermined Sri Lanka’s national security resulting in 21/4 mass murder by jihadi suicide bombers. The weak governance entered into a series of treacherous agreements all of which spelled doom for Sri Lanka. Our forces sacrificed their lives to prevent the separatism of Sri Lanka. Their blood sacrifices should not lead to newer catastrophes by political blunders that places Sri Lanka under the United States flag via provisions of the ACSA-SOFA & MCC. We have gone through & suffered enough as a Nation. Sri Lanka’s leaders should not take us into new & unimaginable dangerous scenarios.

The US is building its military strength in the Indo-Pacific Region with US Indo-Pacific Command regularly highlighting the importance of using Sri Lanka’s strategic location. The containment of China’s rise is the US goal. The 3 agreements are part of US strategy tool – Defense (ACSA), Diplomacy (SOFA), Development (MCC).

The 3 agreements US is pressurizing Sri Lanka to sign will seal Sri Lanka’s fate forever.

  1. ACSA – Acquisition & Cross-Service Agreement signedin secret in August 2017 (83pages)

Sri Lanka by signing will allow US military

  • access to Sri Lanka’s entry & exit points – Airports & Ports for logistics, support, supplies and services (food, water, billeting, transportation (air, petroleum, clothing, communication services, medical services, base operations support,
  • use of local facilities, training, spare parts, repair, maintenance, port services) – all of these activities will be done by US personnel on Sri Lanka’s facilities.

You can imagine the number of US personnel and equipment and perhaps no-go areas that will be demarcated on our land.

US can at any given time use one of their infamous excuses “war on terror” “war on drugs” “war to protect US interests” and even deny Sri Lankans entry to their own country.

Imagine how many Sri Lankan Muslims are likely to be subject to profiling from US jihadi terrorist watchlist?

War against Islamic terrorism is one that US will peddle and one that is certainly tied to the Easter Sunday mayhem.

Imagine how India/Tamils and Palaly Airport will also come under US scrutiny using varied excuses. Tamils will soon realize their folly as will India too. The drug peddlers from India & Sri Lanka may soon without jobs!

By signing ACSA, Sri Lanka has got itself unnecessarily involved in the US-Sino conflict by allowing US to use Sri Lanka for all of its logistical support services.This has completely nullified the spirit of the non-aligned status Sri Lanka has proudly been aligned to. China has been our traditional friend and we have never had to deal with altercations with China of the kind we continue to suffer at the hands of the US. We are riding on a wafer thin line of ‘hope’ that no conflict between US & China or any other country arises in Asia, for no sooner such does, Sri Lanka will be used as base by US.

What will happen to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty & territorial integrity?

These warnings were aired when an artificial independence was created for Kosovo in 2008. Today, 10,887 km² Kosovo has a US military base that is 3.86 km2 (955 acres). Today, Kosovo is no happy state.

While US bulldozes its presence on countries claiming to ‘help’ them, the most confounding aspect of this forced presence is the demand for countries to pay for US military presence. Using the argument that an agreement once signed denotes the country wanted US presence, US demands countries to pay for US military in their countries. This means soon Sri Lanka will have to soon be pocketing out to the US for US military under at least 2 agreements (ACSA and SOFA) Do we have the money to be making such payments?

  1. Status of Forces Agreement / Visiting Forces Agreement (re-negotiated)

Under this Agreement US Department of Defense Military & Civilian personnel are to receive

  • immunities, exemptions & privileges equivalent to diplomats under Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
  • By signing SOFA Sri Lanka is agreeing to allowUS Military & Civilian personnel/US contractors & employees can enter & exit Sri Lanka using US identification, to travel even without driving license, to even carry arms.
  • Sri Lanka has to provide security & protection for the US Military & Civilian personnel, their property & their records.
  • US Military & Civilian personnel will not pay any tax or similar charges in Sri Lanka and can even refuse to pay tax on expressway.
  • US Military & Civilian personnel are allowed to import/export anything and be exempt from any inspection, license, other restrictions, customs, duties, taxes within Sri Lanka.
  • US Defense Dept vessels and vehicles will be permitted to move FREELY within Sri Lanka and be exempted from any payment. US vessels, aircrafts will not be subject to payment of LANDING FEES, PORT FEES, PILOTAGE charges, lighterage, harbor dues which will be in FACILITIES OWNED & OPERATED BY GoSL
  • US owned and operated aircrafts shall not be subject to paying NAVIGATION, OVERFLIGHT, TERMINAL or similar charges by Sri Lanka while Sri Lanka cannot board or inspect any of these aircrafts or vessels.
  • US military allowed to operate its own radio spectrum/telecommunications system and be FREE of COST to US by Sri Lanka

While ACSA allows US to control Sri Lanka’s entry and exit points, SOFA is allowing US troops and civilians to go anywhere in Sri Lanka immune from any checking or payments and even carrying arms.

 Have policy makers and advisors not envisaged the dangers that can arise for the country & its citizens?

This automatically takes our memories to how the war on terror started and the revelations by Gen. Wesley Clark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8ityb0Ips4Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 but US not only bombed by invaded it in 2001 and continues to occupy Afghanistan 19 years later with no likelihood of living.

The fates of Iraq, Libya and Syria are no different.

All those that helped US bring down their countries are also now no more or treated as traitors.

None of these countries are better off after US landed. These nations are devastated in every imaginable way. Does Sri Lanka want to enter this list and for what?

In the case of these countries, US forced itself upon them, in the case of Sri Lanka, we are inviting the devil propped by US arms industry & elite that are putting ordinary American citizens into debt while they make the profits.

Immigration & Covid-19 are newest tools to enforce US presence in countries claiming to ‘protect’ US national interests & assets.

  1. Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC)

The 3rdagreement is the MCC promising a grant gift of $480m which is not coming to the Sri Lankan Treasury or to be handled directly by the Sri Lankan Parliament but by a private company that is reporting to the MCC & US Govt. The amounts allocated are to be spent in a phased out way and careful reading of the clauses of the agreement will show that the MCC presence is not for 5 years but likely to remain indefinitely. While the greater fear for Sri Lankans is the likelihood of Sri Lanka’s land being grabbed most Sri Lankans are wondering their lives will be without land!

All 3 agreements provide tax exemptions & immunities questioning what exactly Sri Lanka is getting from signing these 3 agreements.

Please now envisage a scenario where after signing the 3 agreements that offer US to use OUR MONEY, OUR RESOURCES, OUR TERRITORY and even OUR PEOPLE as virtual labour how do we deal with a situation like George Floyd!

How will Sri Lanka’s Government come to our aid against US troops and civilians who have been given immunity for any crime?

How do we defend ourselves, when US will be creating their own territory inside our country to which Sri Lankans will be forbidden to enter? What happens in the case of expanding of these areas – how can we defend ourselves when we don’t have territory? Even to fight guerilla warfare, LTTE needed territory. If our territory is not ours, how can we defend ourselves? These are important questions to ask ourselves taking to consideration the aspects of these 3 agreements & linking them together.

Does Sri Lanka want to be inviting conflict to become a Trincomalee oil tank farm came under attack during World War 2 by Japan. Tank 91 was destroyed by the Japanese during the attack on the Trincomalee harbor on 9 April, 1942. This is what the ruined oil tank looks like now!

 

This is what we went through for 30 years. We do not wish to enter a similar past this time by invitation. No nation should sign and invite troubles to their shores knowing the checkered resume of the nation Sri Lanka’s leaders are toying to sign with.

 

Those toying with the idea of proceeding to sign these agreements are not only going to cause internal issues that they can never deal with while knowingly making Sri Lanka a sitting duck for modern warfare between West vs East.

BY SHENALI WADUGE 



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