by Upul Joseph Fernando
Prior to the recent mystery ridden US tour of the Sri Lanka (SL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa , the former US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage met him in Colombo. This meeting being given minimum publicity was a riddle to all. Soon after this meeting , the President proceeded direct to Texas , America. There he was met by the former American President George W Bush , according to reports.
Mahinda after his appointment as the President of SL in 2005, participated in the UN General Assembly in 2006. During that period George Bush was the President of America. Mahinda got the opportunity to have a brief meeting with Bush when the latter accorded a reception. On that occasion, Bush had questioned Mahinda on the SL ‘s peace process and the ceasefire agreement. At that point of time, the ceasefire agreement was in existence but the peace negotiations had been temporarily halted.
When Mahinda had explained to Bush that the Tamil Tigers desire war and not peace , Bush had said, terrorism shall be eradicated and therefore to finish them off’However, after Mahinda commenced the war to ‘finish off’ the Tamil Tigers, Obama took over the reins as the new President of America when Bush was back home. It is surmised that on the mystery surrounded US tour of Mahinda , the latter may have reminded Bush of his advice to ‘finish them off’, and pointed out that while he so advised , America on the contrary is levelling war crime charges against Mahinda. Although it is obscure what reply Bush gave , it is exceedingly clear that the SL Govt. via the contacts of Bush is seeking to curb the hostile climate and trend against SL that is built up in America. May be that the SL Govt. is of the view that sometimes the bitter antagonistic stance taken by the US Senate assembly against SL can be changed by way of Bush who it believes can exert influence on the Republicans.
Even though the Obama administration went to great lengths and left no stone unturned in its attempts to halt the SL war, the American intelligence units which were created during the Bush administration to wage war on terror continued to help SL Govt. to destroy the Tamil Tigers. The American intelligence served immensely towards the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Especially the Asia Pacific Command contributed to the SL Govt.’s war victory.
Even today the American intelligence is working in co ordination and co-operation with the SL’s State intelligence to devastate the Tamil Tigers’ international network.
Nevertheless, after the conclusion of the war there is nothing that the American intelligence can do to repudiate or repel in regard to the war crime charges mounted against SL. Even though the SL Govt. is reposing tremendous confidence in Bush on this issue, it is doubtful whether Bush can do anything about it. Bush too is in a thicket of difficulties and deep quandary because of the campaign he carried on to annihilate terrorism during his tenure of office as President. Recently, Bush was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Jewish charity Foundation , ‘Keren Hayesod’, Switzerland.
Bush however at the last minute cancelled it .Referring to this, the Rights groups declared ‘ because of the seriousness of the legal proceedings that may be taken against him in the allegations of torture’, while the Court officials of Geneva said , the criminal complaints against Bush in the torture allegations have been made in Geneva . Human rights groups said, it plans to submit a claim from 2500 pages against Bush in the Swiss City on Monday for alleged ill treatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay US naval base in Cuba, which includes detainees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts in war on terrorism.
Bush cancelled his visit because there was pressure on the Swiss Government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he entered the country. When viewed in this backdrop, it is manifest that Bush too is in the same predicament as Mahinda Rajapaksa. America and the European countries too are stymied in their efforts to make the tour to investigate the war crime charges against Mahinda.
Richard Armitage was a Deputy Secretary of State under the Bush administration . During the period of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Govt., he worked with extraordinary zeal and zest pertaining to the SL ‘s ethnic issue. He took a tough stand against the Tamil Tigers. Some even say his tough approach militated against the SL peace process.
If Mahinda who met Armitage in Colombo had later met Bush in Texas , it is deducible that Mahinda is personally intervening and manoeuvring to change the hostile American stance against SL Govt. Yet when considering the stern warning issued by the US State Dept. Assist . Secretary Robert Blake to SL as well as the letter signed by the members of the US Senate assembly urging the investigation of the SL war crime charges , it is crystal clear that the manoeuvring has to be carried out under the most delicate and critical circumstances. - courtesy: Daily Mirror -