World In Review 2012
Compiled by Dinouk Colombage
Sri Lanka’s Fragile Gains In The Balance
Sumit Ganguly Special to Salem-News.com
Unless the present government reverse course and integrate the Tamil community into the mainstream, the invaluable opportunity the end of the civil war presented to Sri Lanka will be lost.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – In May 2009, the civil war in Sri Lanka drew to a close. It had been a sanguinary conflict claiming anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 lives. Not surprisingly, there was a palpable sense of relief amongst the majority Sinhala population. Even the Tamil population, many of whom were not active supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), had reasons to celebrate. They looked forward to no longer facing the routine suspicion, periodic harassment, and occasional searches of their homes.
Three years after the war’s end, on a visit to Colombo as well as other areas in the vicinity, one no longer confronts routine check points, the military forces are not starkly visible and using public transportation is no longer fraught with the the risk of concealed bombs. More to the point, the tourism industry is clearly flourishing with busloads of visitors from East Asia and Western Europe arriving en masse to Sri Lanka’s historical sites, marvelous beaches, and hill resorts. It is also evident that foreign investment is starting to increase if only gradually. All these developments should point to a more roseate future for the South Asian country that has long had far superior social indicators than all the other states in the region. Sadly, the very military success of the regime in effectively vanquishing the LTTE has now resulted in a form of crass ethnic triumphalism. Based upon conversations with dispassionate and thoughtful observers Sri Lankans, it appears that any attempt to reach out to the Tamil community has been mostly cosmetic.
To its credit, the country has created a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Although its report has been made public, its contents have yet to be translated into the country’s two main languages. Furthermore, in substantive terms, the report has effectively dismissed any claim that the Sri Lankan Army may have used excessive force or targeted civilians as the war drew to a close in the Jaffna peninsula. Finally, the regime appears to be in no particular hurry to implement its relatively anodyne recommendations.
Instead the regime seems determined to avoid even the LLRC’s most modest recommendations, and has sought to demonize the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) resolution passed last March, which called on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations of the LLRC and investigate alleged human rights abuses in the final days of the conflict. There are also widespread claims that the regime has been quite intransigent toward any civil society group that has chosen to speak out on behalf of the aggrieved Tamil population.
Unless the present government, facing stronger international scrutiny and pressure, chooses to reverse course and integrate the Tamil community into the mainstream, the invaluable opportunity the end of the civil war presented to Sri Lanka will be lost. Worse still, an alienated Tamil community facing institutional barriers could once again spawn a violent movement that plunges the country back into a civil war. This is an outcome no one desires.
In sum, although Sri Lanka has ostensibly made great progress in the three years since the civil war ended, these gains remain fragile. Unless the government acts to address the unresolved ethnic tensions plaguing the country, Sri Lanka’s future could conceivably look a lot like its brutal, unforgiving recent past. Sumit Ganguly is the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations and a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a regular contributor to The Diplomat’s Indian Decade blog.
Three Planes In Near Miss At Washington Airport
US air safety regulators are investigating how three planes narrowly avoided a midair collision near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said bad weather and a switch of the landing runway led to a miscommunication on Tuesday afternoon. The incident was first reported by the Washington Post, which said all three planes were operated by US Airways.
Officials vowed “appropriate action to address the miscommunication”. During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, FAA administrator Michael Huerta acknowledged the planes had been too close, but said they were not on a collision course.
An audio recording of discussions between the landing plane and the airport’s traffic control tower shows the confusion. At about 14:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Tuesday, the air control tower ordered the landing plane to make an abrupt turn to the south.
“We were clear at the river back there,” a person in the plane’s cockpit says to the control tower. “What happened?”
The tower answers: “We’re trying to figure this out, too. Stand by.” The FAA said preliminary information showed the landing plane came within 500ft (150m) vertical separation and 1.7 miles (2.7km) of one departing plane and 600ft and 2.8 miles of the second plane.
The standard separation requirement is 1,000ft and 3.5 miles. In March 2011, two jets landed without assistance from the Reagan National Airport’s control tower after a supervisor fell asleep.
After the incident, an additional controller was added to the midnight shift at the airport.
Courtesy; BBC News
US Assassination Drone Strike Kills 25 In Eastern Somalia
US assassination drone strike kills 25 in eastern Somalia A US assassination drone attack has claimed the lives of at least 25 people in eastern Somalia, Press TV reports. The attack took place in Somalia’s Garas Balley district near the capital Mogadishu, leaving at least another 40 injured. The unmanned aircraft also destroyed two al-Shabab bases in the area. The US has recently stepped up its drone operations in the famine-stricken Somalia.Washington has been carrying out assassination drone attacks in other countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The United Nations has slammed the assassination drone attacks as targeted killings, saying that they pose a challenge to international law.
The country has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, the country remains among the ones generating the highest number of refugees and internally-displaced persons in the world.