Guilty by suspicion

America's stand on Sri Lanka's terrorism remains a riddle inside an enigma. The US used to denounce LTTE terror seemingly at every turn and to claim that it stood by this country. Strongly worded statements that Washington issued condemning the LTTE would warm the cockles of many hearts but strangely the moment the writing appeared on the wall for the LTTE, the US policy underwent a sudden change. Washington made a U-turn and went to the extent of trying to throw a lifeline to the beleaguered Tigers crying out for help. It advocated negotiations as the solution to the problem of terrorism here while unleashing hell on Afghanistan in a bid to wipe out its terrorists. If Sri Lanka had given in to US pressure and let Prabhakaran et al off the hook, terrorism would certainly have got a new lease of life and there would have been no end to people's suffering.

Yesterday, we reported that the US had refused to conduct a joint military exercise with the Special Forces or commandos of the Sri Lanka Army because of unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against them. Instead, the US offered to accommodate the Air Mobile troops but the army rightly turned down that offer on the grounds that the exercise had not been designed for them. The Special Boat Squadron of the Sri Lanka Navy and the Regimental Special Forces of the Sri Lanka Air Force took part in the exercise.

We are intrigued! If the Special Forces and Commandos are bad, how come the Air Mobile Troops are acceptable to the US for a joint exercise? It is like abstaining from pork but consuming bacon! Regrettably, the fact remains that the US has discriminated against a section of the Sri Lanka Army purely on the grounds of unsubstantiated allegations. Justice and fair play, eh?

Time was when the LTTE, its NGO allies and the Diasporic Tigers levelled wild allegations against the SLAF and the SLN as well. They were crying blue murder about SLAF bombing missions which, they claimed, destroyed civilian targets. Remember the hullabaloo they made about the so-called Sencholai attack on an LTTE training facility by claiming that a school had been attacked. But, when the LTTE-held areas were opened up, they had to eat their words! They have conveniently dropped those 'war crimes charges' against the SLAF.

The SLN, too, came under heavy fire from the Tiger lobby for alleged massacres of fishermen. It was claimed that the Navy was deliberately targeting fishing craft in the northern seas. Even some Indian politicians lent their voice to the LTTE propagandists who were disseminating diabolical lies in a bid to halt the Sri Lanka security forces on the offensive by generating international pressure. But, today, mum's the word on the part of LTTE activists about those allegations which turned out to be false.

It appears that the US has been wise enough to see through the LTTE's propaganda against the SLAF and the SLN as evident from joint military exercises it conducts with the two forces. It is hoped that as regards the so-called war crimes charges against the Sri Lanka Army as well, the US will cease to be duped by the LTTE before very long.

Sri Lanka has been taking part in many joint military exercises with other countries over the decades. The US has taken upon itself the burden of ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism. But, ironically, Sri Lanka had to battle her terrorism almost single-handed for nearly thirty years and finally managed to defeat it not because of internal crusaders against terrorism like the US but in spite of them!

The question that one cannot but ask oneself is whether it serves Sri Lanka's purpose to take part in joint military exercises with countries that further the cause of her terrorists on some flimsy pretext.

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