In order to counter Chinese acquisition of strategically important Hambantota sea port and Colombo port city, India is exerting pressure on the Sri Lankan government to grant them the control over Mattala and Palali airports and a stake in Colombo and Galle sea ports. Recently the Sri Lankan government entered into an agreement with Indian and Japanese partners to develop the eastern terminal of Colombo harbor, where Japanese party grants a loan to Indian party. In addition of that India has already taken control over Petroleum tank farm and the bunkering business in the Trincomalee Harbor. It is obvious that India is pursuing its counter strategy against China with the blessings and support of U.S.A. and Japan. The investment proposal for Trincomalee port city or the investment zone prepared by Subana Jurong, a Singaporean consultancy firm hired by Sri Lankan government, is exclusively bias towards investments by India, Japan and U.S.A. which means Sri Lankan government will have to grant exclusive rights to companies of those three countries. That project is facilitated by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of U.S. state department.
A report, prepared by the “Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate” dated 7/12/2009, which is named as “Sri Lanka: Re-charting U.S. strategy after the war” has clearly emphasized the strategic interest of U.S.A. in Sri Lanka. It says “Sri Lanka is strategically located at the nexus of maritime trading routes connecting Europe and the Middle East to China and the rest of the Asia. It is in the middle of the ‘old world’ where an estimated half of the world’s container ships transit the Indian Ocean”. The report further says “Even for those that dismiss China’s “string of pearls” strategy as overblown, there is concern about growing Chinese influence on the Sri Lankan government.
This important report emphasizes the need to “re-chart” the strategy of U.S.A. towards Sri Lanka and name the geopolitical dynamics in the context of Sri Lanka’s strategic importance as a “new great game”. Also, it admits that although U.S.A., China and India share an interest in securing maritime trade routes, U.S.A. has invested relatively few economic and security resources in Sri Lanka. As such It is obvious that U.S.A. is contemplating to correct that mistake or the failure through MCC initiative. MCC agreement combined with two other security agreements will make U.S.A. to have a greater stake in geopolitical control in Sri Lanka.
The fact that MCC office is located at the official residence of the prime minister shows the emphasis given by him to the initiative. According to various foreign policy analysts, MCC is one of the U.S. government’s best “arm twisting” tools for encouraging political, social and economic reforms that are prescribed by the U.S. foreign policy. The MCC strategy is implemented through a “Compact” and a program implementation agreement which are facilitated by a grant of USD 480 million. The so-called compact provides for establishment of four investment corridors and development of road network in relation to them and also far-reaching land reforms to facilitate acquisition of up to 1.2 million hectares of land by the firms investing in those investment zones. Those economic corridors are identified and mapped-out, which extends from Trincomalee to Colombo and Colombo to Hambantota and also in Oluvil in east and Kilinochchi in North. It is obvious that MCC initiative is a very strong soft power tool that can be easily deployed in countering the “Belt and Road” initiative of China. Although the government try to deny the fact that the MCC agreement is already signed, it is mentioned in the “Compact” itself that the program implementation agreement was signed on 18/6/2018. Now it is just a matter of accepting the program or the Compact.
Two Security Agreements
- A.C.S.A. (Acquisition and Cross Services Agreement)
Initially this agreement was signed by the previous government in 2007 as a very basic agreement which was consisting of 8 A4 pages. What was renewed in 2017 is said to be a 83-page document and to be very comprehensive where unilateral actions of US armed forces named in the agreement are allowed. Basically this agreement provides for securing access to Logistic support, supply of goods and services which include Billeting by troops, transportation by air, sea and road, Supply of petroleum, base operation support, and use of facilities for maintenance of Port and Navigation Services. This agreement provides for Sri Lanka to be the main supply hub for US armed forces in the Indo-Pacific region. Which means if it is fully implemented that will effectively undermine the Chinese share of geopolitical control in Sri Lanka, by way of military presence in the country. Now, the President of the country has admitted that he did not know at the time of signing the difference between “new” and old agreements. However now it is known that the old agreement was valid for 10 years and the new one is open ended and also facilitating unilateral actions by the USA.
- SOFA (Status of Force Agreement)
SOFA is also an extension of formal agreement entered in to in 1995, which was meant for facilitation of training of Sri Lankan security forces by the US officials. The new agreement which is comprehensive and provide for full enjoyment of diplomatic immunity not only by any member of US armed forces but also by the contractors and employees of US armed forces. As such, the soldiers of US army can be present in any part of Sri Lanka without any restrictions and carry arms in uniforms. They are not liable for criminal offences in Sri Lanka and also they are exempted from all taxes and checking at ports of entry and exit. It is not a formal agreement where two parties sit to gather and sign. US government has already made an offer or a request to extend the former agreement, and to include an annexure to expand it, which is called annex B. Once the secretary of the foreign ministry accept that offer or say yes the agreement is formed. As such it is alleged that the ministry has accepted the offer.
Use of ISIS by the USA
There is ample evidence in a wide range of defense related research papers to prove that ISIS is created, sponsored and used by US secret agencies in pursuing the US foreign policy. It is proved that Islamic fundamentalism to be the most effective foreign policy tool that US is applying in order to intervene or rather invade in to countries of strategic importance. Those interventions have mostly targeted at change of governments, weakening the states, disintegrations of society and finally invasion occupation by US army if situation permits.
Ironically in the recent official visit of foreign minister of Sri Lanka to USA, US under Secretary of State for political affairs has invited Sri Lanka to join the US led global coalition to defeat ISIS. This so-called coalition has by now taken Syriya to Stone Age in the name of defeating ISIS, the organization armed and funded by the same coalition. It is reported that during this visit USA and Sri Lanka agreed upon a joint statement to further US interests in the Indo-Pacific region which may lead to establishment of NATO Base in Sri Lanka.
Impending US intervention
It is now very clear beyond any doubt that the US government is contemplating a military intervention in Sri Lanka, when the situation is created or favorable for that. If there are going to be any more suicide bomb attacks or if wide spread communal violence could be instigated, US army will get the chance to enter into the country in a massive scale, most probably on a so called invitation not only by the government but also by the so called civil society.
According to a theory called the “Shock doctrine” which is said to be successfully tested by CIA, a massive shock exerted on a society through extreme violence will lead to psychological regression, loss of collective personality and memory in that society. So that a different personality emerges in that society where they comply to the orders of their so called savior or the new master, the U.S.A. After 9/11 disaster this theory of so-called “disaster imperitism” was very well proved to be effective beyond doubt. The shock in the American society lead them to forget the fact that Al Qaeda or Bin Laden who is responsible for the attack was created, trained and fed by the U.S.A. There is no doubt the same will apply to the people of Sri Lanka.
Dr. K.M. Wasantha Bandara