Open Fire Agreement (OFA)
Even if the Government has been continuously accused of breaking
the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) by both the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
(SLMM), this week's attacks on purported or real LTTE targets in
Sampur meant they were now prepared to treat the CFA as irreverently
as the guerrillas have been treating that document which bears their
Government might say that this is not the document they want, but
it was only this February in Geneva, that they made a solemn pledge
to abide by its provisions - to the letter.
"limited response" bombings, as the Government put it,
at dusk on Tuesday at Sampur, south of Trincomalee, was a direct
knee-jerk reaction to the attempt on the life of the Army Commander
the same day -- inside his own den -- the Army Headquarters in Colombo.
self-respecting top brass of the military anywhere in the world
--whether they graduated from the finest schools of West-Point,
Sandhurst or the National Defence College would permit a "turn
the other cheek" response to an attempt on the life of its
Numero Uno. Even governments are often under pressure from the military
-- and politically -- to "teach them a lesson" when attacked
once too often.
was only a fortnight ago that the Libyans marked the 20th anniversary
of the US aerial bombing of their President's House in Tripoli (where
his little daughter was killed in the air raid) in retaliation to
a Libyan-backed bombing of a discotheque in Berlin. Such terrible
aerial bombings are taking place day in and day out, to this day,
in occupied Iraq.
right-thinking person would, however, say that these tit-for-tat
bombings may serve a short-term purpose, but rarely win a long-term
They may appease some angry emotions at the time but by doing what
they did, the Government lost the moral high-ground quite essential
in such a situation. The Sri Lanka Government cannot behave like
the US Government or the British Government, for example, because
like it or not, those governments have such economic clout that
they can do what they want and justify it (as in the case of Iraq);
and when any Government dare say they are morally wrong, they can
turn round and say, that in that case, they will not trade with
such a Government.
everybody grumbles under their breath that the mighty powers are
"murderers", but goes on to do business with them anyway,
because of economic necessities.
the fact that the LTTE had systematically killed 150 servicemen
since President Mahinda Rajapaksa took office just last November,
they were unable to trigger a reaction that would justify the collapse
of the peace talks. All this orchestration on their part went on
while attending one round of peace talks in Geneva and fixing dates
for another round.
becoming as clear as night follows day, that the LTTE sees the talks
as a peace trap, and would rather opt to keep the military option
afloat, and talk peace only if they find the heat on them too much
provocative claymore attacks against the servicemen not having succeeded
in provoking a favourable counter-reaction -- they found the attack
on the Army Commander, succeeded in breaking that patience. The
retaliatory strikes in Sampur provided them the handle to gain some
sympathy worldwide thanks to some western news agencies that help
them to carry their message to world capitals despite the acknowledgment
by even the Scandinavian monitors that the attacks were indeed on
the Government in Colombo has got a taste of flagrantly violating
the CFA – and knowing that it too can get away with it. If
they can do it why can't we, seems the rationale of the hardliners
in the corridors of power in Colombo.
And true enough, the CFA stands now thoroughly exposed – that
it can be abused at the will and pleasure of the two warring sides
and there's not a damn that anyone can do about it – than
the sham of saying that both sides will abide by the CFA–
in the future .
new chapter will now open the floodgates for more and more abuses
of the CFA by either side. Very soon that document is not going
to be worth the paper it was written on. And this low-intensity
conflict (see our Comment in the Business section and Page 12 Analysis)
will go on bleeding the economy which in turn affects all citizens
of this country alike.
makes the country look for cash from outside sources (and from where
it comes matters little as long as it comes), every foreign dollar
turning Sri Lanka into a sadly, non self-reliant state, hitting
world headlines for all the wrong reasons.
bigger issues are at stake. And the Government will urgently need
to do more than fire-fighting and sporadic bombing raids --to win