By Shivanthi Ranasinghe
Since Brexit, Britain has become the new pariah in Europe. Despite the much celebrated European chivalry, Theresa May is treated with the full force of chauvinism at European forums. Amidst warm camaraderie amongst European leaders, May is left standing awkwardly, tugging at her sleeves, without, so much as, a smile out of politeness. Obviously, Britain has got internationally isolated - as apparently Sri Lanka was during the Rajapaksa administration.
however, May is refusing to bow to the pressures of being sent to Coventry. Just as Mahinda Rajapaksa did, she is determined to show her erstwhile allies that there is more to the international community than the West led white boys' club. She is thus concentrating building fresh inroads with other countries, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
She just concluded a £100 million warplane deal with the Turkish President Erdogan. UK's largest military contractor BAE Systems will collaborate with the Turkish companies to build the custom-made Turkish warplane - the TF-X. Though she said that this deal will renew the two countries' good relations and create job opportunities, securing "prosperity for decades to come," her real intention is to show that UK can still attract lucrative deals even without the European Union. She is hopeful that this will attract more business, whilst becoming Turkey's main defence provider. May and Erdogan had already agreed to explore the possibility of a bilateral trade deal after Brexit.
These countries' poor human rights records expose Britain's holier-than-thou hypocrisy. Erdogan's government that has imprisoned thousands of political dissidents and protestors is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian.
However, UK insists that Turkey's human rights record is a completely different issue. They are studiously focusing on the fact that Turkey is an important NATO partner. Thus, UK is insisting that it is purely on the line of security and defence that UK is cooperating with Turkey.
Bereft of their once powerful white boys' club company, UK is keen not to antagonize Turkey. Thus, while May emphasizes solidarity with Turkey's democracy during last year's coup attempt, she reminds Turkey, with great diplomacy, to be proportionate and in line with international human rights obligations.
UK is equally, open minded, with weapons client Saudi Arabia, despite the humanitarian crisis created by the Saudi-led coalition bombarding Yemen. The coalition is accused of bombing "multiple international hospitals run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as schools, wedding parties and food factories," report The Independent. According to the report, "It signed off £3.3bn of arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the first year of the country's bombardment of Yemen, which includes £2.2bn worth of so-called ML10 licences – equipment including drones, helicopters, and other aircraft. A further £1.1bn worth of ML4 licences were also issued – relating to bombs, missiles, grenades, and countermeasures. The UK additionally signed off £430,000 of licences for armoured vehicles and tanks."
These weapons the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn pointed, were likely used to violate international law. He directly linked the ongoing refugee crisis to these weapons sales "to the very part of the world that most immediately threatens our security...are being used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen, as has been clearly detailed by the UN and other independent agencies."
However May believes to deal with terrorism and counter-terrorism, it is the strength of the relationship maintained with Saudi that will keep Britain safe. Again Britain is very cautious with Saudi and does not want to jump to any assumptions. According to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as evidence of Saudi war crimes, which would be a key test for halting sales, is not yet seen.
However, UK and others are relentless on Sri Lanka's alleged war crimes. They demand these allegations be investigated, and to ensure credibility, that they too insist on being part of the investigations and the prosecuting teams. These two contradictory positions UK is maintaining clearly infer that when war is translating into a lucrative business, mere allegations on human rights violations will not suffice, but needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Human Rights only become an issue when there is no business value for Britain.
May and Trump
Corbyn's bigger issue, however, is not the crisis in Yemen, but May reaching for Donald Trump. He is not alone in this contention.Many are already balking at May's invitation to Trump to make a State visit to UK later in the year.
Reuters report that more than 1.8 million British people "have signed a petition calling for Trump's planned visit to be cancelled or downgraded to avoid embarrassing Queen Elizabeth." The speaker of the lower House of Parliament too had opposed Trump addressing Parliament during his State visit. More than 150 lawmakers had signed a symbolic motion to deny Trump the honour of speaking in Parliament.
They find Trump's executive order, temporarily banning refugees and people from seven Muslim countries offensive. House of Commons speaker John Bercow strongly feels, "our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations." His sentiments resonated worldwide and have even led to massive protests in London.
Interestingly, in 2011 Barack Obama was bestowed the honour to be the first US President to speak in both houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. He shares this honour with Nelson Mandela and Charles de Gaulle. How those who are standing for these seven Muslim nations missed Obama destabilizing these countries is indeed curious. He waged war against these countries for longer than any other US President and ordered at least 10 times the drone strikes than George W Bush.
He took out Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who was keeping extremists tightly controlled. Gaddafi was an important source of information to the CIA for their counter-terrorism tasks. ISIS is a direct result of removing such leaders.
The recent unprecedented refugee crisis, since World War II, is the cumulative effect. Just days before Obama left Office, he received an 18-page letter from the 9/11 self-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was written in January 2015, but was only delivered two years later when a military judge ordered the Guantanamo - where Mohammed is detained - to deliver it.
Mohammed is very specific that 9/11 is the result of mayhem successive American presidents wreaked in Muslim countries.
Though he had been water boarded 183 times and is been kept in a secret CIA prison with no hope of every walking free again, he expresses absolutely no regret over 9/11.
Thus, way before Obama, America had been destroying other nations. They are the only nation to have used nuclear bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and chemical warfare (Vietnam).
Furthermore, they had been influencing democracy and directly with regime changing to rid stable governments and its leaders to either install weak puppet governments or let extremists and terrorists to take over. Somehow, the world always excused America and its leaders for these gross injustices. In that backdrop, the world condemnation over a temporary ban is really ludicrous.
This ban has rubbed many, in the wrong way, that a federal judge had enforced a ban on the ban. While a number of judges have moved to overthrow the executive order, finding it both unlawful and unconstitutional, this federal judgement was the first to affect entire America. This has sparked an already raging debate.
Tucker Carlson from Fox News talked to couple of key activists from American Civil Liberties Union to try and shed some light on this confusion. One activist has proclaimed that this ban is an abdication of American values. Tucker asked him what exact values America has departed from, he was unable to answer. Currently, according to the UN, there are 60 million people who are fleeing due to various persecutions, including collapsing economies. He was asked how American values would help decide to select from these refugees. Again, he could not answer.
From another activist, he asked why should America consider refugees from countries like Somalia and Yemen that U.S. has no direct dealings with; why does U.S. has a moral obligation to consider refugees from Syria and where does this obligation stem from and how does absorbing these refugees from the seven nations listed by the Obama regime as dangerous States benefit America.
America as a role model has to step up to these crisis situations and not expect its allies to carry the entire burden was the reply.
Tucker pointed out that America is helping the situation in countless ways and therefore it is wrong to state that America is not doing its part, just because they are not invited into the country.
The activist argued that it was in America's national interest to allow these people into the country. The ISIS, he says, offers the average Muslim two choices: either fight with them against America or die. America can offer a third choice by asking them to fight alongside Americans. They thus become terrorist targets and America has an obligation to allow them into the country. This Tucker pointed out was an exception rather than a general application.
According to the activist, this ban has given much fodder to the ISIS. The activist could not answer when asked how much of ISIS recruitment can be reduced by revoking the ban. These activists, though educated professionals, clearly demonstrated they do not know why this ban should be revoked.
If it is to stop ISIS, then they should be focusing more on cutting off the terrorist funding and getting rid of the scourge. Then, none who fought against terrorism needs to leave their soil in need of protection. They would, after all, be heroes, the same as our military, for getting rid of the LTTE. That is of course, only if these people fought alongside America in a genuine effort to eradicate terrorism.
One cannot forget Obama regime's efforts to save Prabhakaran and the LTTE leadership. Had they succeeded, would Prabhakaran face The Hague, especially if he agreed to 'fight alongside the U.S.'? At the very least his family would be awarded refugee status.
Prabhakaran did not build a wall, but something much worse through booby trapped and mined trenches. He deliberately trapped hundreds of thousands of civilians and turned that area into a battleground. In a bid to increase international pressure, he wanted as much civilian casualties as possible. It is to this man, that Obama tried to extend a helping hand.
Prabhakaran is not alone in trapping civilians behind concentrated areas. In the Sahara desert is the Wall of Shame, preventing the trapped civilians from reuniting with their families in the Western Sahara. Apparently, it is one of the longest walls in the world and is secured with barbed wire, trenches and minefields. These activists who pelt Trump for his ban and wall maintain the same stoic silence on this Wall of Shame as they did with Prabhakaran's trenches.
It is interesting that Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was identified as a nationalist, was likened to Hitler. Again, Trump identified as a man of the masses, is identified with Hitler. May, who is trying to renegotiate better trade terms for her country is shunned. Putin and Assad are ostracized. Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, who tried to introduce Gold Dinar and eliminate the regional poverty, were killed. Yet, Prabhakaran who brought so much misery to the whole country with utter barbarism had never been likened to Hitler. Instead, some are convinced that he must be addressed as 'Mister'. Clearly, nationalism is a bigger threat to civilization than terrorism.
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