Groundviews

Sri Lanka’s Libyan Spring

Watching Rupavahini news these days gives way for all sorts of unintended jests. Like when  we see Right Rev. Malcolm Ranjith Pieris exhorting Sri Lankan Catholics to show their solidarity with Buddhist brethren by refraining from consuming meat and liquor during the upcoming Vesak season. Of course the good Cardinal may be putting Jesus’ eternal words of  “Turning the Other Cheek” in to practice by ignoring various angry remarks by Sinhala Buddhist supremacist websites and truculent nationalist Buddhist monks directed against him and Church in general in the recent past . Or when we have Education Minister Bandula Gunawardene threatening sue Sirasa network over some supposedly “investigative “reporting done by that television channel over the manner in which the pious minister celebrated his birthday in the company of some 140 Buddhist monks. And on top of all this we have an “analyst” lecturing us on the affront to the human dignity caused by allied bombardment on Gaddafi’s strongholds in Libya. When most of the civilized world is unequivocal in their condemnation of Gaddafi’s war against civilians and support for retribution against the one time terror pay master, why does state television of Sri Lanka and indeed all state and pro-Government media chosen such an obviously indefensible stance

The relationship between “Colonel” Gaddafi and President Mahinda Rajapskse is one of shared interests. Due to the so-called “War Crimes” allegations against Sri Lanka by the Western Powers, Rajapaske gravitated more and more towards certain regimes that by virtue of their anti-West posture found Rajapaske to be a natural ally. These include Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Gaddafi and also Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Perhaps it was no coincidence that China, perennially hungry for energy, found this anti-Western cabal to be likeable along with the sadistic dictator of Sudan. It was this new alliance that prompted Gaddafi to invite Rajapakse to the celebration of his “revolution” and more significantly his politically powerful son Namal Rajapaske was granted audience with the normally reticent dictator, an honor denied all but top diplomats from the West.  Financially too this alliance is fruitful for Rajapakse given Libya is a top oil producer along with Iran and he can count on their support to checkmate West in their drive to bring charges against Sri Lanka on civilian casualties during the final stages of anti-separatist military campaign. Also this would boost Rajapakse’s position among local Muslim population who tend to view USA and indeed all West as the Dajjal (Islamic anti Christ) unlike one of his lack luster predecessors who unwisely chosen to speak at the UN , in favor of Iraqi Invasion and the Coalition of the Unwilling, only to be literally feathered and tarred in the home ground.  Now this alliance found on political expediency can have all sorts’ evil connotations among the anti- Rajapaske forces, namely Tamil Diaspora and the bankrupt Opposition. To these people similarities between Gaddafi and Rajapaske would be too irresistible to ignore, such as majority of state resources being controlled by close relations, grooming of a son to take the mantle of future of leadership etc. The overoptimistic among them would of course gleefully point out just as West now aiding rebels, Rajapakse could be hauled before International War Crimes tribunal etc. All these are of course wishful thinking, but have no substance. Perhaps it was these events that prompted state media first to play down demonstrations against President’s friend and now getting half baked analysts to wash Gaddafi’s dirty linen by denouncing allied attacks on a sovereign nation, albeit the fact the declared intention of these strikes is to prevent leader of that nation from murdering his own people.

Anyone accusing Rajapakse of his dalliance with Libyan dictator cannot ignore how the Western leaders, intelligentsia and institutions embraced Gaddafi and his dirty oil money to further their own ambitions. Prestigious London School of Economics even awarded a doctorate to dictator’s son Saif Gaddafi on what supposedly was plagiarized thesis. The one time crusader for democracy (or part of Magnificent Seven as Michael Moore so aptly  depicted in his biting satire Fahrenheit 09/11) Tony Blair even chosen to visit Gaddafi in his tent , forgetting his blood stained hands over slaughter of innocents in the sky over Lockerbie. However when Gaddafi gives entire world the finger and says something like “hey Guys I’m gonna slaughter these rebs ‘cos they are my chattel” of course reality bites hard. David Cameron, Nicholas Sarkozy both whose predecessors had embarrassing history of collusion, now wants clear the slates by “punishing” the dictator which they did by arm-twisting a reluctant Obama to take part in their adventure. What will happen next is anybody’s guess; but all signs points to a protracted inter-tribal war.

While Rajapakse may be helping out his friend subtly, one of his freakish, ultra-nationalist (as long as this nationalism does not affect his trips to Disneyland and his right to educate his children in England, the crown of Judeao-Christian culture) lieutenants chosen to burn tires before UN Head office in Colombo against allied air–strikes, showing to the entire word, again, how daft he is. With friends like these Rajapakse does not need enemies. The world might take note that Government or its allies had nary a word to say when Gaddafi was murdering his own people and this in turn would help to solidify misinformation campaign carried out by Tamil Diaspora. The anti-Sri Lanka campaign by Tamil Diaspora has all sorts of self centric, tribal undertones.  It isi n their interest to portray Sri Lanka as a pariah state so they can maintain their privileges in the west increasingly resorting to austerity and anti-immigration measures to stave off effects of ballooning budget deficits. It is people like the above bosom buddy of Rajapaske that help to maintain certain myths about Sri Lanka in the West. It is not a secret then that these false patriots and Tamil Diaspora are hand in glove; each helping others’ very existence, a truly symbiotic relationship.

Hence Mahinda Rajapakse and Sri Lanka should to refrain from this sort over the top displays of asininities.  Let the seasoned diplomats and not a misplaced sense of loyalty towards a beleaguered friend, handle this crisis.