Category Archives: foreign policy

The US Embassy in Colombo: Its Internal Structures and Lines of Responsibility

An article entitled “Ambassadors don’t make policy. They just carry out orders from their administrations” has drawn useful clarifications from two Sri Lankan ‘Insiders’ who worked within the US Embassy in Colombo in the late 20th century and more recently during Eelam War IV, namely, Daya Gamage and Brig. Sri Mudannayake.

 

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The Presidency Stakes: Assessing Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Rajeewa Jayaweera, in Sunday Island, 18 August 2019, where the title reads “The Gotabaya Rajapaksa quandary”

On August 11, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) or Pohottuwa held its inaugural convention at the Sugathadasa Stadium. Former President and current Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), who minutes earlier had been declared leader of the SLPP formally announced its Presidential candidate. As expected, it was MR’s younger brother, a former soldier and onetime Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR). Amidst thunderous applause and fireworks, GR declared, “I love my country, I am proud of my country.” Outlining his vision for the country, he pledged; “I will not allow anyone to interfere with the sovereignty of Sri Lanka” and “I will protect you and your children.”

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American SOFA Proposals generates Sharp Debate

Marwaan Macan-Markar, Asia regional correspondent, Daily FT, 14 August 2019, with this title “US-Sri Lanka military negotiations hit a roadblock”

A Sri Lankan marine stands guard in front of Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga docked at Colombo port. Japan, along with India and China, have many ships going into the port – Reuters
The US government’s new military blueprint in the Indian Ocean is facing headwinds in Sri Lanka, a strategically located South Asian island also being courted by India, China and Japan in a scramble for geopolitical influence.  In the crosshairs is a Status of Forces Agreement initially signed by the countries in 1995, paving the way for the US military to access Sri Lanka for logistics.. But Washington’s push to negotiate a new military cooperation deal under the SOFA, which lays out a raft of protections and privileges for visiting US troops, has come under intense scrutiny.

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India’s Kashmir Action: Severe Implications for Sri Lankan Tamils

 PK Balachandran, of BD News, in Island, 13 August 2019, “Kashmir episode further dims chances of devolution of power to Sri Lankan Tamils

What is happening in India now in regard to federalism and devolution of power to Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir (J and K) region could further dim prospects of Sri Lankan Tamils’ getting power devolution beyond what they have been given de facto under the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution.

Through a Presidential Order on August 5, the Indian central government headed by strongman Narendra Modi, nullified Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution which had given J and K State a large degree of autonomy. The Presidential Order also divided the State of J and K into two Union territories with very much less autonomy.

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Lakshman Kadirgamar’s Legacy

H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, in Sunday Times, 11 August 2019, where the title is “Lakshman Kadirgamar: The Legacy of an Icon”

Fourteen years ago this month, a suspected LTTE assassin snuffed out the life of Sri Lanka’s best known and widely admired Foreign Minister — Lakshman Kadirgamar. The media reported recently that authorities in Germany had arrested a suspect connected to this crime. This news brings into sharp relief the sorry state of accountability in our country. Even after fourteen long years, we have not yet been able to conclusively investigate and prosecute a single offender involved in this ghastly act of terror. Much else has happened though.

Mr. Kadirgamar’s diplomacy, while advocating human rights, prevented human rights issues from becoming foreign policy problems

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Clobbering Rajiv Gandhi as Chastisement in 1987: A Guti Dheema

Michael Roberts

When Vijithamuni Rohana de Silva upended military discipline and attempted to clobber the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the head as the latter was inspecting a guard of honour on 30th July 1987, he was indulging in an act of chastisement – a guti dheema in Sinhala parlance. As such, in my tendentious elaboration, Rohana de Silva was administering a medicinal pill in the vocabulary of archaic Sinhala – a vocabulary that has resonances within the term beheth guliya. [1]

The emphasis on guti dheema was a conjecture I presented way back in 2002.[2] In my reading now, one that Retd Commodore Somasiri Devendra does not share, the intricate details provided recently by Retd Lt KH Perera confirm this set of musings.

 Indo-Lanka Accord about to be signed on 29th July 1987

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A Naval Rating’s Assault on Rajiv Gandhi, 30 July 1987: Detailed Account

Retd. Lt. KH Perera’s Account of the Background, Circumstances and Immediate Aftermath of the Assault on Rajiv Gandhi, on 30th July 1987

Preamble:  Via mediation by Rtd Commodore Somasiri Devendra,[1] Michael Roberts visited Retd Lt. KH Perera’s house at Boralasgamuwa on Thursday 25th July 2019 in the company of Devendra.  Retd Lt Perera responded readily to the questions presented about the attempt to clobber the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when he was inspecting a naval guard of honour gathered in front of the President’s House outside the Post Office in the Fort of Colombo on 30th July 1987. As Master Chief Petty Officer, KH Perera was in command of the naval ratings mustered for this important state occasion. The details elicited during our discussion and compiled here with aid from Somasiri Devendra are of considerable importance and cannot be overestimated. Continue reading

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