US-Backed Indian Intervention on the Tamil Issue
By Sajjad Shaukat
In this regard, Hans J. Morgenthau opines: “The true nature of the policy is concealed by ideological justifications and rationalization. Therefore, the ideology provides a mask behind which the ulterior motives are concealed…there is a close relationship between interest and ideology…the annexation of the backward states by Great Britain and France as their colonies was described as educating, civilizing and humanitarian mission, a sort of white man’s burden, while the real objective was economic exploitation of the former. Annexation was an act of imperialism. But to disguise it humanitarian ideology was advanced…one of the significant aspects of ideology is that it can be described as a cloak for real foreign policy objective.”
Palmer and Perkins write: “Power became the instrument of ambitious nationalism and state’s leaders…futile source of international conflict…obscure the real facts of a situation or the real motives of ambitious leaders.”
In fact, unlike the past when the most developed countries had direct control on the less developed countries, neo-imperialism is the most dangerous form of colonialism, prevalent in the present world. In theory a less developed or developing country is free, but in practice, its government and economy are controlled by a developed country indirectly.
After the 9/11 tragedy, by using the ideologies of colonialism and neo-imperialism (Indirect control), under the cover of democracy, the aim of democratising Afghanistan and the Middle East was propagated by the United States. But, the real motive behind was to get control over the gas and oil of Central Asia and other Middle Eastern countries.
In these terms, India has continued interventionist and hegemonic policies vis-à-vis her neighbouring countries through its military and intelligence agency RAW. With the backing of the US, New Delhi has been, especially interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, as differences exist between them on the issue of Tamils.
In the recent past, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena summoned US envoy Alaina Teplitz to convey strong objections on the travel restrictions of Sri Lankan Army Commander & Acting Chief of Defence Staff for war crimes by the US State Department, actually happened the day after the UN Security Council held a debate in New York where, among other issues, the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka was especially in focus.
Russia expressed disquiet over interference in the internal affairs of any weakened state, stressing that “The United Nations should not dictate…but should instead encourage and complement national initiatives.”
China took a similar stand, stating that transitional justice should be taken forward in the arena of peace-building, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and refraining from intervening with a state’s internal affairs.
Notably, India regretted that involving external actors in the internal or quasi-internal conflicts of states has become more frequent.
In this respect, New Delhi’s envoy stated that involving levels of coercion, and too often, the international community adopts a technocratic, one-size-fits-all approach that can be damaging and elaborated that there is also a perception that transitional justice mechanisms have been providing a form of ideological obfuscation that is intended to divert attention away from those who benefited, and sometimes still benefit, from and in the system. .
Hinting towards the Tamil issue vaguely, India forewarned that reconciliation is an arduous process, and transitional justice mechanisms must contribute effectively to the will of local actors to shape their own destiny.
While, Sri Lanka did not figure for specific reference and criticism in the Security Council debate, however, for America, it created sufficient enough synergy for the act that followed the next day, i-e “public designation” of Gen. Silva. In fact, the Sri Lankan Tamil file has been transferred from Geneva to Washington.
Meanwhile, the statement by the Sri Lankan ambassador to the UN, Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne exuded confidence that Colombo is confident that the “American plan to bully the Rajapaksa government won’t fly.”
She stressed that it is the sovereign prerogative of the Sri Lankan “to pursue truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence.”
In the meantime, Washington has given up hope following the stormy visit by Alice Wells, US acting asst secretary and Lisa Curtis to Colombo in January, this year, where they emphasised the Sri Lankan leaders to fall in line with the Indo-Pacific strategy against China by signing the pending status of forces agreement, allowing American troops to use Sri Lanka as a hub for operations in the Indian Ocean.
And the support from China and Russia helps Colombo to push back at American bullying and coercive diplomacy, while America is weaponising sanctions in the South Asian region to beef up the Indo-Pacific strategy.
Today, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) is almost banned globally. But, it is not banned in India. Tamils who make almost 12% of the Sri Lankan population are mostly concentrated in north, collocated in proximity of Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
It is noteworthy that since 1983, over 20,000 Sri Lankan Tamil insurgents had been imparted armed training—tactics of guerrilla warfare by the Indian military. Despite the capture of some Indian ships, and despite the complaints of Colombo, the illegitimate practice continued by the Indian forces.
Colombo has crushed the Tamil rebels successfully. But, Tamil Nadu still remains LTTE’s main source of weapon supplies. Using some other tactics also, Indians have established their political clout over Sri Lanka by controlling the Tamil politicians and steer their democratic right of vote in order to ensure her own political suitability within Sri Lanka. Hence, Tamils have always been persuaded by New Delhi not to vote for Rajapaksa’s Family-now Gotabaya Rajapaksa is president of the country. This is a clear violation of basic diplomatic norms and stark interference into very internal matter of a sovereign state.
Reports suggest that leadership of the Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA) worked as American agents in the regime change project to overthrow the then “pro-China” president Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015. India also did its bit too to forge such an alliance, although Americans have a rich history of finessing templates such as sub-nationalism, jihadism, etc. as geopolitical tools.
Nonetheless, the US-backed Indian intervention on the Tamil issue continues in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations