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Understand a Basic Fact:
Norway is Not in SL at Only GOSL's Pleasure

Mike Opatha

There appears to be no end to the lack of basic understanding of Norway's role in Sri Lanka's conflict. Another example is the recent article by Bandula Karannagoda. Once again, it contains a fundamental flaw that is not hard to miss if one only paid attention to some undeniable, basic facts.

One simply cannot overlook that Norway is not in that role solely because GOSL chose so. Rather Norway is in that role also because LTTE chose so. When international pressure was being exerted on post-1994 Chandrika led GOSL to find a settlement to this "ethnic conflict," the proposal for having a "facilitator" was advocated by the world powers that be (such as US, UK, Canada, etc). However, from the very beginning the LTTE made it known that such a facilitator must also be to their unqualified approval as otherwise, they would not come to the table. Norway at this point made not only direct overtures to GOSL, but also did so through the world powers that be. The LTTE, of course, strongly advocated this given Norway's longstanding bias in favor of them. Strangely, this bias appeared to be no secret to anyone, except to the GOSL. Particularly, GL Peiris, who was CBK's chief policy advisor in this regard at that time, overlooked (very stupidly) this bias. As for GLP, we all know that his stupidity continued, as expected, after he had jumped ship and joined Ranil as granting every demand made by the LTTE at the "peace talks" table was like eating-Kaju for him.

So herein lies the biggest blunder that the GOSL made. Once Norway was "in" (LTTE could barely contain its ecstasy) and the so called "peace talks" progressed, the GOSL had the tiger by the tail (pardon the pun). It simply could not ask Norway to go home without the LTTE walking out of these "peace talks." If this was ever going to be possible, then the GOSL had to show to the powers that be that Norway was not merely being marginally impartial, but overwhelmingly partial towards the LTTE's agenda. CBK realized this not far in to this game and I think did the best she could to cool off Norway's role, presumably with an intention of eventually ushering them out. However, the grand idiot of modern SL, Ranil, now closely policy advised by GLP, called them back with open arms and profuse apologies for the former GOSL's "shabby treatment."

The saga continues…when CBK took over the reins this year (after nearly two years of unimaginable gains by the LTTE not only militarily, but politically under the guise of having "peace talks" with Ranil's GOSL), once again there was no way for her to keep the Norwegians out - the original "facilitators" who had now become "mediators" and some would say even "policy makers" (e.g. the head of the SLMM was advocating the recognition of Sea Tigers as a legitimate Navy in the Indian Ocean!) with much Hoola & Dance on the world stage. If she did so, she would have faced the wrath of the powers that be as the LTTE would have naturally walked out in protest and question would have been "how dare you throw out a mediator doing such a good job?" This is because the LTTE was in perpetual delight with Norway's role and the Ranil led GOSL had also turned a blind eye to all the serious flaws with Norway's role (the substantial and unmitigated killings of Muslims in the East by the LTTE, right under the SLMM's nose, was ample evidence of this). One could argue that in any case, when CBK took over the LTTE had, in a sense, "walked out." True, however, this was not a permanent walkout, but rather a ruse to help Ranil convince the Sinhala populace that the ISGA, in its unaltered form as demanded by the LTTE, was the only way to appease the LTTE and bring permanent peace. With Ranil, the LTTE knew that the ISGA was virtually in the bag, but a little nudge was still needed to seal it.

The bottom line…Let us not be fooled by those who claim that the only way to remove Norway is to protest with the GOSL. This is very simplistic thinking that borders on dangerous naïvety.

As for Bandula Karannagoda's piece, the following blatant error is worthy of highlight:

"Obviously two successive SL governments had nothing seriously to complain about (Norway)" -- This is not true. Around 1998/99 Eric Solheim was almost declared persona non grata by the GOSL due to his overstepping of the "facilitator" role. It was after this that the GOSL decided to cool-off with Norway's role, presumably pending a strategy on how to usher them out and find an alternate partner that the LTTE would also agree to - obviously, no easy feat.

I would invite readers to peruse a recent excellent analysis by Dayan Jayatilleka on this topic. Please refer to the section "The Norwegian Question" at the bottom of his article at the following link:

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items04/140904-1.html

Mike Opatha



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