pindo nazis put the bite on lanka

Pindo boxtop delivers Trump’s threat to Lankan president
K Ratnayake, WSWS, Jan 20 2020

Pindo DASS for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G Wells delivered a letter from Trump to Pres Gotabhaya Rajapakse during a one-day trip to Lanka last Wednesday. According to the media, the letter emphasised the White House’s “commitment and interest in furthering and deepening our partnership.” Wells held discussions with Rajapakse and his brother, PM Mahinda Rajapakse, as well as FM Gunawardena, Tamil National Alliance chiefs R Sambandan and M A Sumanthiran, and “civil society” leaders. Wells was accompanied by NSC Senior Director for South and Central Asia Liza Curtis and Pindo ambassador Aliana Teplitz. Significantly, Wells’ trip was part of a nine-day South Asia tour. It follows Chinese FM Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Lanka, which began last Monday. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov was also in Colombo on Wednesday. These high-level visits underscore the increasing rivalry over influence in the Indian Ocean region, primarily between Pindostan and India on one hand, and China and Russia on the other. Sri Lanka straddles important Indian Ocean sea-lanes. In its attempts to maintain world hegemony, Pindostan is deepening its military build-up and trade war measures against China. Faschingstein’s concerns over Lanka have deepened with Rajapaske’s election as president and his appointment of his brother, a former president, as PM. Pindostan considers both men to be pro-China. Faschingstein backed Mahinda Rajapakse’s anti-democratic government and its brutal war against the separatist Tamil Tigers, but was hostile to Colombo’s close relations with China, and in late 2014 initiated a regime change operation to remove Mahinda Rajapakse. He was ousted in the Jan 2015 elections and replaced by Maithripala Sirisena, considered a pro-Pindo president. Wells told the media:

We discussed with Gotabhaya Rajapakse a wider and safer Indo-Pacific region & other issues of mutual interest. We want to strengthen ties by expanding cooperation on economy and trade, counter-terrorism, security, military-to-military engagements, transitional justice and human rights.

These are code words to justify the increasing build-up of Pindo military forces across the region. According to media reports, Wells reiterated Faschingstein’s opposition to Beijing’s influence and voiced concerns about Chinese investments, denouncing the Hambantota Port agreement as “unsuccessful and an injustice to the Sri Lankan people.” In 2018, Sirisena’s government signed over Hambantota Port to a Chinese company in a 99-year lease as part of a deal to phase out massive loans from Chinese banks for the facility’s construction. Wells’ message from Trump was clear. Faschingstein will not tolerate any weakening of the military and political relations it built up over four years under Sirisena. Wells praised increasing Pindo-Lankan military cooperation and hailed last year’s 18-ship Pindo visit and the ever closer integration of the Lankan military into INDOPACOM. Faschingstein is pushing for a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement it secured with Lanka in 1995, but with new provisions. The new clauses would permit Pindo military bases and provide free access and immunity for all Pindo forces operating in Sri Lanka. Trump also wants Colombo to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement, a Pindo foreign policy aid deal. During the recent presidential elections, Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna criticised the MCC and SOFA in an attempt to capitalise on popular anti-imperialist sentiment. But once Rajapakse took office, he established a special body to assess the MCC’s “merits and demerits.” Wells thanked Rajapakse for setting up this review committee but asked for an early response to its findings. She said “any concerns” about the SOFA could be discussed after the Sri Lankan parliamentary elections, due to be held in about four months. Wells warned:

Pindostan is Sri Lanka’s largest export market. This is a partnership beneficial to both the countries.

She told the media that she discussed Colombo’s commitment to the UNHRC, the return of land seized during the war with the LTTE, the provision of information to relatives of missing individuals, and concerns by Tamils and other minorities and opposition parties over accountability. This is a thinly-veiled threat that numerous issues can be exploited to force Sri Lanka to toe the Pindo line. Obama cynically used human rights violations by Rajapakse’s regime to pressure Colombo to distance itself from Beijing. A day earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang had met the Lankan president and told him that Beijing’s attitude toward Lanka had always been consistent and that China would continue to be a “reliable” friend. Wang declared:

As Sri Lanka’s strategic partner, China will continue to stand by Sri Lanka’s interests. We will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka.

Wang did not name the outside influences but clearly was referring to Pindostan and India, which are seeking to scuttle Colombo’s relations with China. The Lankan government faces massive debt repayments and a deepening economic crisis, and is seeking international financial assistance, particularly from China. Rajapakse, who is due to visit China early next month, responded to Wang’s remarks by declaring:

I am an admirer of Pres Xi Jinping. I have followed his speeches and statements closely.

Wang indicated that China would offer financial help, including the phasing out of debt repayments, saying:

We will meet with necessary parties that can help Sri Lanka in the areas of technology, tourism, infrastructure and other related fields.

Lavrov met with Gunawardena and voiced his readiness to strengthen relations with Lanka, saying Russia would “provide the Sri Lankan forces with all the weapons they need for security” and wanted to boost annual bilateral trade from its current $400m to $700m. Russia, which also faces aggressive Pindo military encirclement, last year held joint military exercises with China and Iran. The three countries are targets in Faschingstein’s over-arching military strategy to dominate the Middle East and Eurasia. India is engaged in strenuous efforts to keep Lanka under its strategic dominance. Indian FM Jaishankar visited Lanka three days after Rajapakse’s election. Rajapakse then visited Delhi to meet Modi. Last week, Lankan FM Gunawardena visited India to meet Jaishankar and a business delegation. In early February, Rajapakse is scheduled to visit India again at the invitation of Modi. Rajapakse, who has rapidly elevated key military figures into his administration, demagogically claims that he will maintain a “neutral foreign policy,” but the whole Indian subcontinent is being sucked into a geopolitical maelstrom, under conditions of intensifying great power rivalry and the danger of a catastrophic war between Pindostan & China.

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