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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

USA Opposes IMF Loan to Sri Lanka: Why not negotiate a long term loan facility from China, Russia and other friendly countries?

By Raj Gonsalkorale

The West led by the USA has opposed an IMF standby facility to Sri Lanka at present. Although the IMF is outside her official jurisdiction as it is a subject under the US Treasury Secretary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced this after talks with David Milliband, the British Foreign Secretary. If the USA opposes the loan, then that will be the end of the matter, and Sri Lanka will not get the loan. Political double speak that Hillary Clinton and David Milliband has been engaging in, leaving the door half open for the loan to be given “when conditions are right" should not deceive Sri Lanka.

The West has driven Sri Lanka steadily into the fold of the emerging supper power, China and now Sri Lanka has no choice but to embrace China and other friends like Russia, Iran, Libya, and Jordon among others, and identify itself as a true friend of these countries. One school of thought is that there is no point fiddling around on the fringes anymore. For better of worse, Sri Lanka should state clearly who their friends are and make it known to the West that they can survive without the duplicity of the West.

There will be repercussions as a result of an open statement to this effect. The only way to avoid or minimize them would be to ask for China and Russia to help and standby Sri Lanka when India and even Pakistan, a staunch ally of Sri Lanka, but now beholden to the USA for the monetary support they are getting, may start undermining Sri Lanka at the behest of the USA. After all Pakistan got their $ 7.6 million IMF loan thanks to US urging.

As a start, Sri Lanka should meet the leadership of China, Russia, Iran and countries like Venezuela in South America to assist with a standby loan facility. True, the current economic crises would make the possibility of such a facility difficult as all these countries are suffering as a result of a crises caused by the USA, and interest rates will be much higher than borrowing from the IMF. But it is better to bow one’s heads to these countries rather than grovel to the West, as an IMF loan will have serious political conditions attached to it, some conditions that will be very unpalatable for Sri Lanka.

The other school of thought is that Sri Lanka too should divide and rule and engage closer with some Western countries, as well as Opposition political parties in some Western countries that are due for elections soon. In particular, in UK, where the Conservative party is set to win the next general election. One wonders whether Sri Lanka has had any dialogue with the Conservative Party as they have not made their views known about the Sri Lankan situation as yet. Countries like Australia; although not in the same league as the USA, have much to lose if they are too closely aligned with the USA, as that will not please China, a country that Australia is dependent on for their mineral exports. Australia has always been a friend of Sri Lanka and it would be strategically important for Sri Lanka to develop even a closer relationship with them.

Then there is Canada. Although they have a close relationship with the USA, Canada also has its spirit of independence, and wanting to appear so as well. Japan is disposed favourably towards Sri Lanka, has always been, and it would be wise for Sri Lanka to have these countries working for it as counter balances to the USA, while engaging with China, Russia, Iran, Libya, Jordon etc.

One is never sure about European countries as they have not shown much sympathy for Sri Lanka. Neither can one be sure of India as they have been Sri Lanka’s friend and enemy, if one is to consider that it was India, under Indira Gandhi, that nurtured a few harmless Pussy Cats and made them in to vicious Tigers.

In essence, Sri Lanka must look towards a world where they do not have to depend on any particular power block for its survival and prosperity.

The West probably is of the opinion that Sri Lanka is as callous as they have been and still are towards innocent civilians. One wonders with incredulity how the West could keep a straight face and lecture to Sri Lanka about the plight of innocent civilians caught in the cross fire of a war. Their record is abysmal, and it defies belief how they could appear as the defenders of civilians who suffer collateral damage during a war.

Sri Lanka did not use Atom bombs on people and kill hundreds of thousands of Japanese people, and neither has Sri Lanka killed millions of Vietnamese because they happened to have a different ideology to the Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka did not arm and support Saddam Hussein to wage a war on Iran and kill thousands of innocent civilians in Iran and Iraq, and then murder the dictator Sri Lanka nurtured. Sri Lanka did not kill thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq during the phony war there looking for non existent weapons of mass destruction. Sri Lanka did not encourage Israel to batter Palestinians in Gaza and kill more than 1200 people. Sri Lanka has not sent troops or unmanned drones, carrying deadly bombs or use artillery and other heavy weaponry to kill Taliban terrorists and kill innocent civilians in the process in Afghanistan and Pakistan and calls them inevitable collateral damage.

Sri Lanka has only done what the West has always thought fit and necessary to do, especially after 9/11, that terrorism had to be eliminated. The USA and UK and some Western countries are still at it, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is quite in order because their national interest is at stake. Sri Lanka of course cannot look after its own national interest. Or free its own citizens from the clutches of terrorists. That is not acceptable to the West.

The duplicity and machinations of the West are calculated, and they are not stray events. At the heart of it probably China’s and Russia’s growing influence in Sri Lanka and in the region. The Hambantota harbour development in Sri Lanka financed by China has rankled the West. Their support for other economic projects in Sri Lanka has made them even angrier. In Bangladesh, Russians have signed an agreement to build a nuclear power station. Burma, however despicable they are towards democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi, are very close to China. It is said that Chinese influence in Thailand is growing. Vietnam is a Communist country although they call themselves a market oriented socialist country. China and Russia are both influential there.

No wonder Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia as one of her first official visits after taking office. The US wants Indonesia to be a counter balance in the region to thwart growing Chinese influence.

If one considers these developments, regionally, China’s influence as well as Russia’s has grown much to the dislike and dismay of the West. They however do not realize that they only have themselves to blame for it. It would help the West to stand before a mirror and see how naked they are, like Emperor without clothes, and stop preaching to others about not harming civilians, while they have been responsible for most civilian deaths during war in the last few decades.

The West could sound and look genuinely concerned about civilians caught in the cross fire in the small pocket of land in North East Sri Lanka. They could be unequivocal about who has been responsible for it and make an unqualified statement that it is, and has always been the LTTE. They could make an unqualified demand that the LTTE surrenders. They could put money where their mouth is and help the Sri Lankan government to improve the lives of the IDPs. Perhaps they could take their hands off the IMF and let the IMF proceed with the loan to Sri Lanka.

That would cover their nakedness to some degree and stop bystander’s laughter.

- Asian Tribune -

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