home | rich profile | rich freebies | rich tools | rich data | online shop | my account | register |
  rich wrap-ups | **richLIVE** | richPodcasts | richRadio | richTV  | richInterviews  | richCNBC  | 
Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Tuesday 19th of November 2019

Register and its all Free.

The Latest Daily PodCast can be found here on the Front Page of the site

Macro Thoughts

read more

Remittances to outstrip Foreign Direct Investment in 2019 for the first time ever Migrants are now the biggest investors in low and middle income countries @WorldBank H/T @rhaplord

At $530bn, remittances <only those officially recorded> are more than
three times official development assistance -WorldBank

Home Thoughts

read more

According to the Election Commission, Rajapaksa took 52.25 percent of the vote, while Premadasa took 41.99 percent. The Diplomat
Law & Politics

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, a Colombo-based political commentator, recalls
that “when Gotabaya mingled with people at his election rallies many
were seen begging him to ‘make the country safe again.’” This
perception of Gotabaya as one who could deliver on security appealed
to voters, she said.
Gotabaya did poorly in areas that are predominantly populated by
Tamils and Muslims. However, the solid backing he received from the
Sinhalese enabled him to surge ahead to win the presidency. According
to the Election Commission, Rajapaksa took 52.25 percent of the vote,
while Premadasa took 41.99 percent.
Gotabaya’s victory has sparked apprehension among the island’s
minorities and democratic-minded Sri Lankans. Muslims fear that in the
name of national security, they will be targeted by the government.
After all, it was Gotabaya’s patronage of the Bodu Bala Sena, an
outfit of Sinhalese-Buddhist thugs, which set in motion the post-2012
targeting of the island’s Muslims.

read more

Just in case anyone forgot: Sri Lanka is now governed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a man so sinister he used to keep a tank of sharks in his garden. Death of the Tiger @newyorker H/T @jamescrabtree
Law & Politics


The mobile-phone video clip shows a pair of soldiers pushing a naked,
blindfolded man into the frame. His hands are tied behind his back.
One soldier, dressed in the uniform of the Sri Lankan Army, forces him
into a sitting position on the ground, kicks him in the back, and
steps out of the way as the other soldier comes forward and shoots him
in the back of the head. The man’s body jolts and flops down. Off
camera, the shooter can be heard laughing giddily and exclaiming,
“It’s like he jumped!” The soldiers kill two other men in similar
fashion, and then dispatch a number of wounded prisoners. The camera
turns to show at least eight other bodies, including those of several
half-naked women, lying in pools of blood. All of them appear to have
been freshly executed. When the end came for the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam, in May, 2009, it was overwhelming and unmerciful. In a
three-year offensive of increasing sophistication, the Sri Lankan Army
had outmaneuvered one of the world’s most ruthless insurgent armies.
The battlefield defeat ended a vicious conflict that for twenty-six
years had divided Sri Lanka along ethnic lines, as the country’s
Tamils, a mostly Hindu minority, fought for the creation of a separate
state against the ruling majority of Sinhalese Buddhists. The Tamil
army—known as the L.T.T.E., or simply the Tigers—was led by Velupillai
Prabhakaran, a charismatic, elusive man who had become one of the most
successful guerrilla leaders of modern times. The Tigers were
persistent suicide bombers, as well as relentless guerrilla fighters,
and the war took at least a hundred thousand lives in Sri Lanka. In
many respects—its entrenched religious and ethnic conflicts, its
festering guerrilla warfare and suicide bombings, its seamless
interchange between civilians and combatants—the war prefigured any
number of later conflicts. Where it differed was in the government’s
brutal effectiveness in putting down the insurgency. To the extent
that a counter-insurgency campaign can be successful, Sri Lanka is a
grisly test case for success in modern warfare. The Tigers’ collapse
began in January, 2009, when they lost the town of Kilinochchi, their
de-facto capital. For an organization that had controlled much of
northern and eastern Sri Lanka for nearly a decade, it was a
devastating reversal. Their remaining fighters, a force of about
fifteen thousand, retreated into the jungle near the coastal town of
Mullaittivu, taking along more than three hundred thousand Tamil
civilians who were trapped with them. With international concern
mounting over the safety of the civilians, the Sri Lankan Army
designated a series of “no-fire zones” and told civilians to assemble
there. It then shelled those zones repeatedly, while issuing denials
that it was doing so and forbidding journalists access to the area.
Hundreds of people were killed every day. By mid-April, the Tamil
rebels and the civilians were trapped on a bloody stretch of beach
about a mile long. Hemmed in by the sea, a lagoon, and a hundred
thousand government soldiers, they were all but helpless, as the Army
kept up a barrage of fire from gunboats, aircraft, and field
artillery. On April 21st, the Army broke through the Tigers’ defenses,
creating a chaotic corridor that, over several days, allowed nearly
two hundred thousand famished and wounded civilians to flee into its
custody. The Army had ordered most relief workers and all
international observers to leave the area, but it nonetheless billed
its offensive as a “humanitarian operation” to rescue hostages from
the Tigers. (The Tigers did in fact prevent some civilians from
fleeing, and shot hundreds of them as they tried to escape.) The
Tigers’ defenders, meanwhile, claimed that the Army was committing
genocide. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admonished Sri Lanka’s
government, saying that “the entire world is very disappointed” by the
“untold suffering” that was being caused by its efforts to end the
war. There were later reports, which the government denied, that as
many as forty thousand civilians were killed during the Army’s final
offensive, and that their bodies were burned or buried in secret mass
graves. The foreign secretaries of France and Great Britain flew to
Sri Lanka, where they pleaded with the government to call a ceasefire
in order to rescue the civilians who were still trapped. Suspicious
that the diplomats also wanted to save the Tiger leaders, the
government ignored them. Tens of thousands of civilians remained in
the kill zone, which continued to shrink until it was no bigger than
four football fields. A survivor of the final stand at Mullaittivu, a
young pastor, described the scene to me. He and four other pastors and
a group of sixty orphans in their care had been dug into shallow
bunkers on the beach. “It was the first thing we did whenever we
reached a new position—digging and making bags with cut-up women’s
saris,” he said. “Only afterward would we go and look for food or
water.” The Tamil fighters were in bunkers all around them. “Most of
them were Black Tigers,” he said, referring to the Tamil suicide
squad. “Prabhakaran was among us, too, but none of us saw him.” He
described a charnel ground, with artillery shells landing at random.
“All we could see was dead people, people crying for food and for
water, and burning vehicles everywhere.” On May 16th, Army troops took
the last coastal positions, and, as they pursued the remaining Tigers,
the Army commander, General Sarath Fonseka, declared victory. The next
day, a Tiger spokesman posted a statement on the organization’s Web
site: “This battle has reached its bitter end. . . . We have decided
to silence our guns. Our only regrets are for the lives lost and that
we could not hold out for longer.” In the bunker, the pastor’s group
talked by cell phone with a brigadier general in the Sri Lankan Army
who told them to stay there until they saw soldiers, then identify
themselves with white flags. The group had run out of food and went
foraging in an abandoned bunker nearby. “We found food packets—meat,
chocolates,” the pastor said, and they took as much as they could
carry, dodging incoming fire. The next morning, a young man in their
group was fatally shot as he defecated outside. By evening, they could
see soldiers approaching. “Two or three of us went out with several
children, and we took white flags, as the brigadier had suggested,”
the pastor recalled. “But as we approached they said, ‘Don’t come,’
and fired guns in the air.” The soldiers had been told there could be
suicide bombers among the last Tigers, and in fact several insurgents
blew themselves up in the midst of civilian refugees turning
themselves in to the Army. “We fell on the ground. They were about
fifty metres away. We crawled back to the bunker, and then they fired
at the bunker. The whole night, I could hear the Army throwing
grenades in the bunkers near us. There were explosions, and people
were crying and saying, ‘Help us.’ ” At dawn, the pastor said he “felt
courage” and decided to go out and confront the soldiers. “I went with
another pastor and a white flag,” he said. “We explained who we were,
and they told everyone to come forward out of the bunker. They ordered
us to kneel down. There were about fifteen soldiers. Their faces were
covered with black cloth. One soldier said, in Sinhala—I understand a
little—‘We have orders to shoot everyone.’ We were shouting for them
not to shoot.” After a tense standoff, the pastor was strip-searched,
along with the children, and then allowed to collect his belongings
from the bunker. “A pastor came behind me, but he was punched in the
chest by a soldier. He fell down. He died later that day. The same
soldier who hit him stuck his fingers in the wounds of the young men
with us who had been injured.” After another strip search and a long
interrogation, the pastors were reunited with the children and put in
a detention camp. When I asked the pastor how the experience had
affected him, he said, “It is in my mind. When I sleep, automatically
it comes out—things I only saw in films in my youth. Bodies without
heads. Bodies with the stomach open and the liver coming out.” He
added, “At the end, we were walking out through fire and past dead
people, and the soldiers were laughing at us and saying, ‘We have
killed all your leaders. Now you are our slaves.’ You can imagine how
I feel about my country.”

On the same day, May 18th, the Army announced that the Tiger leader,
Velupillai Prabhakaran, had been killed, along with two hundred and
fifty others, during an overnight escape attempt across the Nandikadal
Lagoon, which separated the beach from the mainland. Images were
released of his body lying at the feet of Army troops, a handkerchief
over his forehead to conceal a yawning wound. The Army claimed that it
had cremated his remains. Prabhakaran’s eldest child, Charles Anthony,
was killed the day before, along with other fighters who launched a
final assault on Army lines. Soon after, the Army said it had also
recovered the bodies of Prabhakaran’s wife, their daughter, and their
youngest child, a boy, all of them dead of gunshot wounds. Dozens of
unarmed Tamils, including several senior Tiger political leaders and
their families, were also shot dead by soldiers as they walked out of
the kill zone carrying white flags. Their surrender had been
personally approved by Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, after
being negotiated over a satellite-phone link by the U.N.’s special
envoy to Sri Lanka and Marie Colvin, a correspondent for the Sunday
Times of London, whom the Tamil leaders had asked to be their
intermediary. “This was not the chaos of battle,” Colvin said. “It was
a negotiated surrender. Promises were made and they were broken.”
After the announcement of victory, there were fireworks in Colombo,
the nation’s capital, and across Sinhalese Sri Lanka. In an address to
Parliament on May 19th, Rajapaksa declared a national holiday. “We
have liberated the whole country from L.T.T.E. terrorism,” he said.
“Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of the
L.T.T.E. We all must now live as equals in this free country.”
Rajapaksa is a veteran politician with a commanding physical presence,
a trademark smile, and a folksy charisma, which his admirers liken to
that of the late Ronald Reagan. In office since 2005, he seized on the
mood of national euphoria that followed his war victory to call an
early election last January, in which he was duly reëlected to a new
five-year term. Rajapaksa is the son of a well-known politician, but
his family comes from a village in the deep south of the country,
rather than from Colombo’s Western-educated élite; in Sri Lanka’s
highly stratified society, they are considered nouveau-riche upstarts.
He has made his rusticity a political asset, however, and he enjoys a
huge following among rural Sinhalese. One of his brothers, Gotabaya,
is his defense minister; another, Basil, is his chief of staff and
minister for economic development; and a third, Chamal, is Speaker of
Parliament. His twenty-four-year-old son Namal was recently elected to
Parliament, and forty-odd additional brothers, sisters, cousins,
nephews, nieces, and in-laws hold various other government posts.
After the war, Rajapaksa’s government adopted a posture of
triumphalism at home and defensive resentment of the outrage that the
carnage had caused abroad. When the U.N. created an “accountability
panel,” government-sponsored rioters mobbed its headquarters in
Colombo, forcing it to close. Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London
complained to me that his country was being unfairly singled out:
“Colombia has been contaminating the world for years with its cocaine,
and now Somalia is with its piracy. What do we hear about that in the
U.N.? Nothing.” The important thing, he said, was that Sri Lanka had
ended terrorism, making it the first country in the modern age to have
done so. In military circles around the world, the “Sri Lanka option”
for counter-insurgency was discussed with admiration. Its basic tenets
were: deny access to the media, the United Nations, and human-rights
groups; isolate your opponents, and kill them as quickly as possible;
and segregate and terrify the survivors—or, ideally, leave no
witnesses at all.


In 1914, Leonard Woolf’s younger sister, Bella Sidney Woolf, published
an illustrated guidebook titled “How to See Ceylon.” Leonard, who had
not yet married the novelist Virginia Stephen, worked in Ceylon as a
colonial administrator, and Bella went to visit him before settling
there herself. It was the Edwardian era of languorous travel by rail
and rickshaw, croquet clubs, and afternoon teas attended by servants.
Woolf wrote, “The stranger, looking down on the motley throng that
threads the streets of Ceylon, is bewildered, puzzled. How is he to
distinguish between all these people?” She ventured a brief comparison
of the island’s two main ethnicities: “The Tamil cooly, it must be
conferred, is a much more law abiding, peaceful person than the
Sinhalese. Apart from the hot temper which leads to the flashing out
of a knife and murder, there is an undercurrent of malice in village
Under the British, tensions festered between the Sinhalese, who make
up seventy-five per cent of the population, and the Tamils, with
seventeen per cent. (There was also friction with other ethnicities;
in 1915, Sinhalese mobs attacked the island’s Muslim minority.) The
Tamils were seen as having unfairly benefitted from colonial rule;
they held a disproportionately high number of civil-service jobs and
university enrollments, and more of them were fluent in English. After
Ceylon gained its independence, in 1948, Sinhalese nationalists grew
increasingly insistent that the Tamils were “invaders,” whose presence
threatened the very existence of the Sinhalese culture. The Sinhalese
have traditionally lived in the south, with its lush land and ancient
reservoir-fed rice paddies. The Tamils lived in the arid scrublands of
the north, known as the Vanni, and the lowland jungles of the east,
areas their ancestors had occupied two thousand years ago, during wars
of conquest waged by Hindu kings from Tamil Nadu, the southernmost
state of India. Sinhalese nationalists trace their lineage to Aryan
tribes of northern India, despite the lack of evidence to support the
idea. Although intermarriage across language barriers was fairly
common, especially among the upper castes, Sinhalese politics by the
early twentieth century had become infused with racialist theories on
“Aryanism” then being promulgated in Europe. Anagarika Dharmapala, the
leader of the Sinhalese Buddhist revival movement that began under
British colonial rule, said, in a frequently quoted speech, “This
bright, beautiful island was made into a Paradise by the Aryan
Sinhalese before its destruction was brought about by the barbaric
vandals. . . . This ancient, historic, refined people, under the
diabolism of vicious paganism, introduced by the British
administrators, are now declining and slowly dying away.” The
“vandals” Dharmapala referred to were the Tamils, of course, and the
“vicious paganism” their Hindu faith. By the time of independence, the
seeds of sectarian hatred had taken root. In 1948, Sinhalese
nationalists introduced legislation to deny citizenship to hundreds of
thousands of so-called “Indian Tamils,” most of them tea-plantation
workers descended from laborers brought to the island by the British.
Then a new law made Sinhala the country’s official language, replacing
English, and many Tamils working for the government lost their
positions for being unable to speak the language. In the seventies,
legislation was enacted to favor Sinhalese students in university
admissions, and soon after, a new constitution made Buddhism the state
religion. Tamil politicians called for Gandhi-style campaigns of civil
disobedience, but young radicals advocated an armed struggle for
“national liberation.” Militant groups formed and began squabbling
over the way to bring about a separate, secular, socialist Tamil
state. Some travelled to Lebanon and received military training from
Palestinian guerrillas. In 1975, the pro-government mayor of Jaffna,
the informal Tamil capital, was shot dead as he arrived for prayers at
a Hindu temple. The assassin was Velupillai Prabhakaran, a thin,
goggle-eyed twenty-year-old who had left high school and gone into
hiding to devote himself to the fight for Tamil independence.
Prabhakaran is said to have torn up all pictures of himself in the
family’s photo album to prevent police from identifying him. (His
father, a civil servant, was horrified by his son’s extremism, and
remained estranged from him. He died this month, in Army custody.) At
the time of the shooting, Prabhakaran was a member of a fledgling
group called the Tamil New Tigers. Within a year, he had formed his
own breakaway organization, the L.T.T.E. Prabhakaran—known to his
followers as Thamby, or Little Brother—had a flamboyant touch: in his
early days as the Tiger leader, he posed for pictures with a pet
leopard cub, and spoke with admiration of Napoleon Bonaparte and
Alexander the Great. His contemporary heroes included Sylvester
Stallone and Clint Eastwood, and he often showed their movies to his
young fighters, whom he called his “cubs.” The Tigers soon emerged as
the most ruthless of the Tamil militant groups, and eventually
annihilated all their rivals. On July 24, 1983, the Tigers killed
thirteen soldiers in a land-mine ambush, and Sinhalese residents of
Colombo turned on their Tamil neighbors. In a murderous orgy that
spread quickly across the southern part of the island, they hacked,
raped, burned, and shot as many as three thousand people. The killing
went on for a week, and thousands of Tamil homes and businesses were
torched and looted. The authorities, by and large, did not intervene,
and in some cases coöperated with the mobs. The violence was a
historic watershed. Hundreds of thousands of Tamils who had lived in
the south fled to the north and east; many of them entered the Tigers’
training camps, where a movement was growing for a separate Tamil
homeland. Another wave of refugees moved abroad, and these “diaspora
Tamils” began to support the Tigers’ cause. India’s sizable Tamil
population was outraged, and their politicians called for action. In
response, Indira Gandhi’s government began providing the militants
with covert financial assistance and military training. Sri Lanka’s
civil war had begun. In December, 1986, I arrived in Sri Lanka with my
brother Scott. The conflict was only three years old, and its body
count—around five thousand—was still relatively modest. But the Tigers
were already notable for their unusual discipline and ferocity. In
addition to carrying out a few massacres of their own (including an
especially brutal one in 1985, in which a hundred and forty-six
civilians were killed in a raid on one of the holiest Buddhist shrines
in Sri Lanka), the Tigers had instituted a reign of terror among their
fellow-Tamils, imposing absolute authority, levying war taxes, and
eliminating their rivals. A master of battlefield innovation,
Prabhakaran devised a form of execution for collaborators with the
enemy: the victim was tied to a lamppost and blown to pieces with
Cordex explosive fuse wire. During our visit, Colombo was quiet, and
the Sinhalese areas of the country remained largely untouched by the
war. In the eastern city of Batticaloa, however, we found an
atmosphere of violence and contained hysteria. The Army’s
antiterrorist Special Task Force, created for the purpose of fighting
Tamil insurgents, had taken over the city’s police stations; its
soldiers were bunkered in behind sandbags and razor wire, their guns
pointing out through sniper holes. After dusk no one ventured out on
the streets. Groups of women in saris recognized us as foreigners and
beseeched us to help them find their sons, who had been detained by
the S.T.F. The Army had developed a pattern of mass arrests, torture,
and, with growing frequency, murder. A Tamil Catholic priest, Father
Chandra Fernando, told us that disappearances and indiscriminate
shootings occurred daily in the area, and that every male between
fifteen and forty had been arrested at least once. The conflict had
grown so terrible, he said, that he had come to question the very
existence of God. Through Father Chandra, we made arrangements to
visit the Tigers’ nearest camp, a journey that took us by motorcycle,
ferry, and jeep into a remote area of sparse jungle. When we arrived,
wicker chairs had been placed in a half-circle inside a thatched hut.
A group of perhaps forty fighters, teen-agers mostly, stood by, armed
with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. The Tiger commander
of the Eastern Province, Colonel Kumarappa, appeared. A heavyset Tamil
with a drooping mustache, he wore khaki trousers and a white shirt and
had a revolver tucked in his belt. He sat down in one of the chairs
and motioned for us to do the same. His fighters crowded into the hut
around us.  Guerrilla commanders often lay out a philosophical and
historical argument for their use of violence, but Kumarappa’s case
for war seemed almost offhand; for the Tigers, killing and dying
seemed to be virtues in themselves. When I asked him what kind of
government he wanted for the new Tamil state of Eelam, he paused for a
long while before replying, “Oh, yeah, socialist. A socialist country,
yeah, because in here sixty per cent of the people are poor—only ten
per cent are very rich. Corruption, you know?” The Tigers, like
insurgents who came later in other parts of the world, led constrained
lives; they were denied alcohol, cigarettes, and premarital sex, and
maintained a worshipful devotion to Prabhakaran, which they
demonstrated with their willingness to perform suicide missions.
Kumarappa boasted that his fighters were obliged to wear cyanide
capsules around their necks and to swallow them if they were captured.
“I think the cyanide helps our morale, you know?” Recently, he said,
Army commandos had captured a handful of fighters without their
cyanide, and the Tigers had evaded interrogation by struggling until
their captors were forced to shoot them. Kumarappa acknowledged
killing civilians: “Sometimes, you know, we don’t have any
alternatives. Sometimes we have to do that job, too.” But the Tigers
had a higher purpose—the cause of a Tamil homeland—and therefore had
no choice but to punish those who collaborated with the enemy.
Kumarappa said that he had captured many spies; he had one in camp at
that moment, a woman of thirty-six. He ordered his men to bring her
in. She was tiny, with unkempt hair and a bad limp, and her eyes were
wide and unfocussed. She was made to sit in a chair next to Kumarappa.
Her name was Athuma, he said. His men had caught her two days earlier,
after she infiltrated their area, and accused her of spying for the
Sri Lankan Army. Kumarappa said she had already confessed: “Without
any torture, she accepts everything.” Her relationship with the Army
had begun when an officer agreed to take two of her children to be
adopted by his sister in Colombo. Afterward, he had demanded that she
collect information. Athuma mumbled in Tamil, and her eyes roved
around. Kumarappa translated: “She asks me for her life.” “Has she
said why she did it?” “Because of money. She’s suffering in poverty,
you know.” Scott asked, “What does she think is going to happen to
her?” Athuma said something in a soft voice. Kumarappa said, “She
knows very well the final decision. She knows we’re going to kill
her.” Athuma spoke to Scott and me, repeating something over and over.
Kumarappa said, “She’s pleading, ‘They’re going to take my life.’ ” I
asked if people had died as a result of her information, and Kumarappa
said no. “Then why can’t you forgive her?” I asked. Kumarappa sighed.
“Because, you know, she made a big mistake.” He waved, and Athuma was
taken away by several fighters. Both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war
insisted on their victimhood, which only prolonged the fighting. A few
hours’ drive from Colombo, we visited a camp for Tamil political
suspects who had been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
There were a hundred and twenty-five inmates, ranging in age from
fifteen to sixty-seven, all of whom had been picked up by the Special
Task Force. Although most of them were uneducated farmers and
fishermen, and denied having anything to do with the Tamil militant
organizations, they had been tortured and humiliated, they said. Their
guard, a Muslim, nodded sympathetically as they spoke. At one point,
he whispered to us, “They are all innocent.” At the day’s end, we
joined our host, Bobby Wickremasinghe, the deputy minister for
prisons, on the veranda of the camp administrator’s house. “Nobody
sees our problem,” he said. “We are just a few Sinhalese, but the
Tamils are millions, here and in South India. They can go to India,
where there are so many Tamils. They can go all over the world. Who
will take me, a Sinhalese? I must live and die on this island! . . .
Does no one see that for us, the Sinhalese Buddhists, it is a problem
of survival? It is the perishing of a race.” The Sinhalese, of course,
constituted three-quarters of the population. “If we wanted to, we
could wipe out the Tamils in an hour or two. But we haven’t done that,
because we are Buddhists.” Over the decades, there were periodic
ceasefires and peace negotiations, but the two sides could never agree
to durable terms. Both relied on the ongoing fight for political
leverage. Sinhalese politicians needed the nationalist vote, and
Prabhakaran, who was primarily a battlefield strategist, seemed
incapable of political compromise. The social and economic effects of
the war were huge. Tourism dwindled, depriving the country of a
crucial source of revenue. The expenditures for the military diverted
money from social-welfare projects and energized leftist activism
among Sinhalese nationalists. The government allowed Indian
peacekeeping troops into northern Sri Lanka in 1987, which further
inflamed the nationalists and helped set off a Sinhalese-on-Sinhalese
civil war that cost an estimated fifty thousand lives. In the war with
the Tigers, at least a hundred thousand people were killed; perhaps
half of them were Tamil civilians, and roughly a quarter were members
of Sri Lanka’s armed forces. Hundreds of thousands of Tamils were
displaced from their homes, and a million more fled abroad.

The Tigers killed one Sri Lankan President by suicide bomb, in 1993,
and came close to killing two more; they also assassinated scores of
government ministers, parliamentarians, military officers, and other
officials. In 1991, in the world’s first female suicide bombing, a
Black Tiger named Dhanu set off explosives concealed under her
clothing as she knelt at the feet of Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian
Prime Minister, during a public ceremony, blowing him and fourteen
other people to bits. The closest the Tigers came to ruling a Tamil
homeland was in the period that followed the peace accord of February,
2002. During that time, the Tamil lands of the north and east were
united, and the Tigers’ political administration began to function as
a virtual state, with its own army, navy, border guards, and customs
officials. (Bizarrely, everything from the supply of electricity to
health and education services continued to be funded and run by the
Sri Lankan government.) Acting as conflict negotiators, Norwegian
diplomats paid calls on Tiger officials and carried messages to their
government counterparts in Colombo. But by the time Mahinda Rajapaksa
stood for election in November, 2005, the ceasefire was already
unravelling. Just two months earlier, the country’s foreign minister,
a moderate Tamil, had been assassinated by a suspected Tiger sniper.
The Tigers encouraged a boycott of the election, and, ironically, the
dearth of Tamil voters helped Rajapaksa win by a slender margin. At
his inauguration, Rajapaksa invited the Tigers to a new round of
talks, but amid mounting violence they withdrew. In July, 2006, after
the Tigers blocked a reservoir that supplied water to thousands of
farmers, Rajapaksa authorized a new military offensive against them.
This was followed by a political blow: in October, the Supreme Court
ordered that the Northern and Eastern Provinces be separated,
diminishing hopes for the Tamil homeland. The next month, Prabhakaran
declared a renewal of the “freedom struggle.” The war had begun again.
With the help of two Tiger defectors named Karuna and Pellian, the
Army took over the east, and then moved its offensive north, pursuing
Prabhakaran’s troops into the Vanni. At the same time, the Army
embarked on a huge recruitment drive: between 2005 and 2009, it grew
from a hundred and twenty-five thousand troops to three hundred
thousand. By January, 2008, Rajapaksa, determined to crush the Tigers,
announced a formal end to the ceasefire. Sri Lanka’s war dragged to
its bloody climax just as Obama took office. Perhaps for this reason,
the official American position was one of lawyerly, largely
ineffective disapproval, with the U.S. Ambassador, Robert Blake,
voicing humanitarian concerns and occasional criticism of the
government, but otherwise keeping quiet. The U.S. and the European
Union did curb arms sales to Sri Lanka, so the Rajapaksa government
turned instead to Eastern nations. China, in the last year of the war,
supplied a billion dollars’ worth of military aid, including fighter
jets, air-surveillance radar, and anti-aircraft batteries; Russia and
Pakistan provided artillery shells and small arms; Iran supplied fuel.
Unofficially, however, the United States had provided some help. Sri
Lankan diplomats and military officers acknowledged to me privately
that U.S. satellite intelligence had been crucial when, in 2008, Sri
Lanka’s Navy sank seven Tiger ships loaded with military cargo. The
ships—members of the Sea Pigeons fleet, which sailed without
identification from various Asian seaports—were cruising in
international waters, as far as a thousand miles from Sri Lanka, when
they were attacked. They carried war material worth tens of millions
of dollars, and their destruction deprived the Tigers of their
traditional means of military resupply just as the Sri Lankan Army
ramped up hostilities. From then on, the Tigers were on the run,
herded ineluctably into shrinking territory. The Tigers’ defeat was
not preordained. The events that led to their demise had everything to
do with the personality of their leader. Prabhakaran had been
dictating the terms of the war in Sri Lanka for so long, and built up
such extraordinary power, that he appears to have lost his sense of
proportion. At some point during the Army’s siege of his headquarters
at Kilinochchi—before the city fell, in January, 2009—he is believed
to have escaped with his wife and children and their bodyguards to one
of his hiding places in the jungle, in an area called Visuamadu. For
weeks at a time, they lived literally underground in an elaborate
hideout. The house was so ingeniously concealed that its existence was
discovered only in 2009, when soldiers stumbled across it. They
discovered an underground lair of rooms descending fifty feet, with
bulletproof doors, air-conditioning, surveillance cameras, and
electricity from a soundproof generator. They claimed to have also
found oxygen tanks, a bottle of cognac, and a supply of insulin
(suggesting that Prabhakaran, who had grown rotund in recent years,
may have been diabetic), as well as a Marks & Spencer shirt with a
forty-two-and-a-half-inch chest. The Army maintained the compound as a
private museum for select visitors. At the end of a paved road just
wide enough for a single jeep was a modest-looking pink bungalow, its
roof camouflaged by dried palm fronds. Another palm-covered structure
concealed a drive-down subterranean garage. Next to the fenced
entrance of the compound was an open-air funeral bier, where the
bodies of slain Tiger officers were brought so that Prabhakaran could
pronounce words of homage before they were disposed of. Down a narrow
stairwell from the bungalow’s front room was a claustrophobic series
of small, tile-floored rooms. The last one held an emergency exit,
where an iron staircase spiralled up to ground level at the rear of
the house. From the top of the stairs, Prabhakaran would have had to
run only a few feet to reach the protection of the surrounding jungle.
At Mullaittivu, after years of evasion, Prabhakaran was finally
trapped. Because all the people around him have been killed, it is
difficult to know how he spent his last moments—whether, as the Army
says, he was killed in combat, or whether he was caught and executed.
The Tiger leaders clearly hoped for a deal that would spare their
lives. Weeks before the massacre, Prabhakaran’s aides began calling
their intermediary Marie Colvin, and on the evening of May 17th one of
them relayed surrender terms: the Tigers would lay down their arms in
return for a guarantee of safety for fifty of their leaders and a
thousand of their fighters. Colvin said that this surprisingly low
number most likely represented all the Tiger fighters left alive on
the beach. She heard machine-gun fire behind the aide’s voice,
suggesting that the fighting was close by. Until the very end,
Prabhakaran believed that the international relief community, the
U.N., and Western governments would save the Tigers. “The L.T.T.E.
continued to read the world as if it was pre-9/11,” Jayampathy
Wickramaratne, an adviser to Sri Lanka’s past two Presidents,
explained. “What happened was that many countries, such as the U.S.,
took a different view of the L.T.T.E. than they had before—even if
they sympathized with the Tamil people.” In May, 2006, after years of
accommodating the L.T.T.E., the European Union branded it a terrorist
organization. The U.S. had done so a decade earlier, and George W.
Bush’s Administration had supported Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency
campaign directly. Prabhakaran also crucially underestimated Mahinda
Rajapaksa. “Pre-Rajapaksa governments never went one hundred per cent
all out to wipe out the L.T.T.E.,” Wickramaratne explained. “They used
military force, but always had a political solution in mind. But then
came Rajapaksa, and he was prepared, rightly or wrongly, to go whole
hog. If you look at the L.T.T.E., it’s a case of them arrogantly
refusing opportunities. They thought they could just keep telling the
world that they were willing to talk, but not follow through. They
thought they were the exception, until Rajapaksa came along and said,
‘I’m not going to let you do it.’ ”


With the Tigers’ defeat at Mullaittivu, all of Sri Lanka’s territory
came under government control for the first time in nearly thirty
years. In the north and east, the Army occupied the land, pursuing a
kind of clear-and-hold strategy, in which it herded the Tamil
inhabitants into a series of Army-run “welfare camps”—essentially
military prisons—and did not allow them out until they were deemed
harmless. The camps initially held three hundred and twenty thousand
Tamil civilians; an estimated twelve thousand Tigers were kept in
separate facilities. With the north largely emptied out and the sites
of the fiercest fighting off limits to all but military personnel,
secrecy descended over the former Tiger territory. President Rajapaksa
had described his postwar vision as “one nation, one people”—in which
no single ethnic group would lay claim over any part of the land—and
called for “economic development and prosperity” as the route to
reconciliation. But many Tamils believed that this was simply the
first step toward complete Sinhalese domination. Without the Tigers to
defend the land, the government would flood the north and east with
Sinhalese soldiers and their families; much as China did in Tibet,
they would weaken the Tamil claim on the region with unrelenting force
and by diluting the population. The military prohibited access to the
north to all foreigners without special permits, but a Tamil social
worker, whom I will call Siva, agreed to take me through the less
guarded back roads of the Vanni. We set out by jeep for Kilinochchi,
the Tigers’ former capital. There were Army bivouacs every hundred
yards or so, and larger military camps every few miles. The soldiers
scrutinized us closely as we drove by, but allowed us through the
roadblocks. The Vanni was a wasteland of low bushes and fallow farms
and a succession of war-ruined hamlets. We stopped in one tiny fishing
village: a welter of roofless houses, trash-strewn sand, and scrubby
trees—and an Army post. The hundred-odd families there had been
released from the detention camps five months earlier, and were now
living in lean-tos made out of sheet metal or U.N.-issue blue plastic;
some had fenced themselves in with woven palm palisades. No one in the
community spoke Sinhala, and the soldiers did not speak Tamil; the
community leader told Siva that they wanted someone to be sent to live
with them who could talk to the soldiers on their behalf. In the past
few nights, someone had tried to break into a number of homes, and the
villagers believed it was Sinhalese soldiers. “We don’t know if they
are trying to steal or if they are looking for women to rape,” the
community leader said. It was one of many allegations of rape I heard.
Over the years, groups like the Asian Human Rights Commission and
Amnesty International have documented numerous cases in which
Sinhalese soldiers raped Tamil women and girls. In the cell-phone
video from Mullaittivu, the soldiers appraise the dead women and make
lewd comments that strongly suggest that they have been sexually
assaulted. We drove north on the main road from Colombo to Jaffna, the
historic capital of the Tamils. The road had been reopened to the
public for the first time in years; the British-era railway, whose
rails and wooden ties had been torn up and used as bunker
reinforcements by the Tigers, was also being rebuilt. Cafés and picnic
grounds had sprung up by the side of the road, with signs identifying
them as “People’s Rests” and “Army Welfare Canteens.” They were
occupied by soldiers and busloads of Sinhalese tourists. Siva
remarked, “They are increasing, not reducing, their presence. This is
permanent.” Entire military cantonments, made out of special materials
supplied by the Chinese, were being erected all over the north. We
passed many more Army camps along the road. The Army had said that it
was waiting until mines could be cleared to return Tamils to their
homes, but Siva was dubious. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they are
looking for gold on the corpses,” he said. “The Tamil people are
famous for liking jewelry and gold. I think that’s it; otherwise there
is no reason why they shouldn’t allow people to go back to their
places. That and evidence of mass graves, war crimes. Maybe they are
moving the bodies.” Siva’s claims at times had the ring of conspiracy
theory. But later Major General Mahinda Hathurusingha, the security
commander of Jaffna, confirmed for me that the cantonments were indeed
intended to be permanent. From the military’s perspective, the war
continued. “The L.T.T.E. inculcation of the youth—this is a big
problem for us,” he said. The Army needed to maintain a presence in
the north to insure that Tamil radicalism never started again. To
gather intelligence, another senior officer told me, it had
infiltrated the Tamil population and installed electronic surveillance
systems. During the war, signs of the Tigers’ presence were ubiquitous
in Tamil areas. Throughout the north, hand-painted billboards
advertised their sacrifices on behalf of their people. One of them
showed two Tamil mothers, both wondering where their daughters were.
On the left side of the billboard, one of the daughters, an adolescent
girl in pigtails and a pink dress, is depicted in three panels. In the
first, she is at home alone, meekly receiving three armed government
soldiers. In the second, she looks out through the bars of a jail
cell. In the third, her pink skirt and legs protrude from a bush,
while the soldiers dig a shallow grave. On the right side, the other
daughter, wearing tiger-striped camouflage, looks strong and
determined; she wields a weapon during combat in the jungle, and
steers a Sea-Tiger launch on the ocean. Now the Army had methodically
erased all traces of the Tigers in the north. Kilinochchi’s cemetery
had been totally eradicated. Pointing to mounds of broken gravestones
and piles of rubble, Siva explained, “The Army has come along and just
bulldozed them.” In the center of Kilinochchi, the Army had erected a
victory monument: a giant concrete cube with a bullet hole cracking
its fascia and a lotus flower rising from the top. Soldiers stood at
attention before a marble plinth, whose inscription extolled the
Rajapaksas’ leadership during “a humanitarian operation which paved
the way to eradicate terrorism entirely from our motherland, restoring
her territorial integrity and the noble peace.” Though the Rajapaksa
government denies plans for the “Sinhalization” of the north and east,
it has done little to assuage the Tamils’ fears. These anxieties are
fuelled by a sense of communal humiliation. During a stop at a
friend’s house in Kilinochchi, Siva complained of “seeing soldiers
everywhere, occupying our places. But people are resigned. They feel
they can’t fight the Army presence anymore.” His friend added that he
had heard a local Tamil vegetable seller calling out in Sinhala. When
he asked why, the vender told him, “Tamil has no place now.” Among
many Tamils, as well as Sinhalese, the Tigers were despised for
violently upsetting Sri Lanka’s delicate status quo. Middle-class and
upper-class Tamils were targeted for extortion; those who opposed the
Tigers’ separatist campaign risked assassination. But in the backlands
of the north and east the Tigers, despite their brutality, were the
only government that most Tamils knew, and were more representative of
their community than the postwar Sinhalese administration. Siva said,
“After all, who were the L.T.T.E.? They were our children! O.K., maybe
even they were terrorists, but people here, because they were their
children, had feelings for them.” At one point during our trip, two
women approached Siva. The older one, in her forties, with a long
ponytail and a red bindi dot on her forehead, carried a photograph of
a slim youth standing in front of a shrine. She identified him as her
son, and explained that he had been forcibly conscripted by the Tigers
in 2002. In the areas they controlled, the Tigers had demanded that
each Tamil family contribute at least one member to the cause;
children as young as fifteen, girls as well as boys, were often
conscripted. If they weren’t produced voluntarily, they were taken by
force. The other woman had lost her daughter in 2006. The girl,
twenty-four at the time, had gone out to attend a birthday party and
hadn’t returned. She, too, had ended up in the Tigers. Neither woman
had heard anything of her child since the end of the war. They told
Siva of going to the detention camps and getting the runaround from
authorities. They had come to him because they had heard rumors of a
secret detention camp and hoped he’d know where it was. The younger
woman had last heard news of her daughter from another female fighter
who had survived the siege at Mullaittivu. “That girl told me that
they had been together, that my daughter had a chest injury, and that
in the fighting she had lost sight of her. She said that just behind
her the Sri Lankan Army was coming, so it’s possible they caught and
saved her.” The mother added, hopefully, “She was in Intelligence. She
had finished high school, and she spoke some English.” The older woman
said that other detainees had told her that her son was captured
alive, and he had been collaborating with the Army by leading it to
the Tigers’ hidden weapons caches. If the reports were true, she said,
sobbing, it meant that her son had been tortured. I asked Siva what
the chances were that either of the women’s children were alive. “Very
little,” he said. Of the woman’s daughter, he told me, in English,

read more

Just in case anyone forgot: Sri Lanka is now governed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a man so sinister he used to keep a tank of sharks in his garden. Death of the Tiger @newyorker H/T @jamescrabtree B
Law & Politics

“Most likely they killed her on the spot.”


Major General Kamal Gunaratne was the field commander of the Special
Forces troops that finished off Prabhakaran. During my visit, he was
running the north from his base at Vavuniya, a town that, in the old
days, marked the northern limits of government control. He and his
officers met me in a dark wood-panelled conference room, where framed
photographs showed the General and his soldiers standing over
Prabhakaran’s body. Gunaratne, a tall, blustering man wearing a red
beret and a camouflage uniform with a chestful of medals, described
the war in heroic terms: “Our youth is gone now, but we had no choice,
we had to live with this problem. But we didn’t want our children to
live with it, so we decided to end it. It was a mammoth task, but we
have done that for the nation.” His men had paid for Sri Lanka’s peace
with their “blood, sweat, and body parts.” In the end, he said, the
three-year offensive killed six thousand of his soldiers and
twenty-three thousand Tigers. He added, “Since the death of the
ruthless terrorist leader Prabhakaran, there have been no deaths in
Sri Lanka from a terrorist act.” Gunaratne was echoing the Sri Lankan
government’s official dogma: the postwar peace justifies whatever was
necessary to achieve it. Gunaratne showed me some private snapshots of
the dead Prabhakaran, including one in which the handkerchief that
covered his forehead had been removed, revealing a gaping hole in his
forehead. It suggested an exit wound, as if he had been shot from
behind at close range. Gunaratne had taken Prabhakaran’s dog tags,
which he had given to Sarath Fonseka, the Army commander, and his
Tiger I.D. card, which he had kept for himself. He pulled out his
wallet and extracted it from among his credit cards. The serial number
on the I.D., he pointed out, was 001. I asked if he intended to keep
his trophy. He took the card and looked at it for a moment, then put
it back in his wallet. “Maybe one day I’ll give it to the Army for its
museum or something. But right now it’s mine. I think I’ve earned it.”
For nations operating in the age of instant media, counter-insurgency
is in significant measure a public-relations problem. What should
victory look like? No matter what else happened in Vietnam, many
Americans’ image of the war was formed most vividly by the photograph
of the huddled civilians of My Lai moments before they were killed by
U.S. soldiers. Since the cell-phone video from Mullaittivu leaked out,
the Rajapaksa government has fought a second campaign to define the
massacre as a glorious victory. Sri Lanka has found friends who are
willing to agree, or at least not to care; these include China and
other Eastern nations, as well as military experts from around the
world who are impressed by the effectiveness of its tactics. The
government has largely ostracized those who disagree; within its
borders, it has silenced them by force. A week after the war’s end,
the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva was the scene of a political
standoff between a bloc of Western nations that called for an
investigation and another—led by Sri Lanka and including Brazil, Cuba,
India, and Pakistan—that called for a resolution praising Sri Lanka
for the “promotion and protection of all human rights.” The latter
resolution won, with twenty-nine votes in favor, twelve against, and
six abstentions. In the following months, lawyers in the U.S. Justice
Department began exploring the possibility of war-crimes prosecution
of Gotabaya Rajapaksa—who lived in the United States for a time and
acquired citizenship—as well as the former Army commander Sarath
Fonseka, a green-card holder. On a visit to the U.S. in the fall of
2009, Fonseka dodged an interview request from Homeland Security and
flew back to Sri Lanka. For the most part, though, the Obama
Administration has maintained a policy of circumspection. One senior
Administration official told me, “With regard to Sri Lanka, I can
assure you that war crimes and crimes against humanity are a big part
of our bilateral discussions.” But the Administration’s only public
acts have been to send Stephen Rapp, the State Department emissary on
war crimes, to Sri Lanka, as well as its two senior human-rights
officials on the national-security council, Samantha Power and David
Pressman. Rapp filed two fact-finding reports with Congress, while
Power and Pressman urged the Rajapaksa government to show greater
accountability for its actions during the war. Rajapaksa, meanwhile,
has said that his government was “looking east,” and he signed a
number of economic deals with China, including one for the
construction of a large port in his home district of Hambantota. In
August, he presided over a lavish ceremony to mark the opening of the
port’s first phase, which a thousand Chinese laborers and engineers,
along with Sri Lankans, had completed in a year of around-the-clock
shifts. Before an audience of hundreds of dignitaries, Rajapaksa stood
at the helm of a giant model ship, turned the wheel, and watched the
seawater enter the muddy basin carved out by the Chinese. In the not
too distant future, Sri Lanka may be seen as an early skirmish in a
new “Great Game” of influence between China and the United States and
their proxies. “Sri Lanka has read the situation and seen that the
West’s influence is diminishing,” Harim Peiris, a Sri Lankan political
analyst, said. “So this government has made some strange friends:
Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, Russia, and Japan. China is probably our
biggest single investor. These are ‘softies’—soft loans without
pressure. So who’s putting the pressure? Oh—Sweden and the E.U.!”
Peiris laughed derisively, and said, “There is no serious
international pressure.” A Western diplomat in Colombo said, “We don’t
have a lot of influence here. We’re not a big fish. China is. It’s
pouring in billions of dollars that are described as soft loans, but
someday they will have to be paid back. And they don’t ask about human
rights.” Jaliya Wickramasuriya, another relative of President
Rajapaksa’s, is Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Washington. He suggested to
me that the U.S. was missing out. With the war over, Sri Lanka was
going to boom economically. “We want the U.S. to come in,” he said.
“America, hurry up!” Laughing, he added, “But there are a lot of
suitors, and if the suitor takes a lot of time . . . however
good-looking, there are always others!” The Sri Lankan government does
have supporters in the U.S., particularly in military circles. Senior
officials told me that their government owed much to a Pentagon
official named James Clad, “a great friend of Sri Lanka.” Clad was the
Bush Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South
and Southeast Asia, in charge of the Pentagon’s dealings with India
and Sri Lanka, until he was replaced by the Obama Administration in
January, 2009. I telephoned Clad, and he invited me to his home, in
suburban Washington, D.C. Clad is an articulate man in his late
fifties, with a ready sense of humor. Citing official oaths of
secrecy, he demurred when it came to questions about U.S. aid to the
Sri Lankan military, but he made it clear that he had been supportive
of the Sri Lankan government’s war effort, and that he felt that the
criticisms expressed by the West had been counterproductive to Western
interests. “The self-imposed marginalization by the U.S. and other
Western countries in Sri Lanka has led directly to increased influence
by China, Pakistan, and Iran, none of which share the Western
humanitarian agenda, to put it mildly,” he said. As evidence, he
mentioned a Chinese arms dealer that had advanced ammunition to the
Sri Lankan government throughout the military campaign; the debt was
later satisfied by arrangements that gave China commercial advantages
in Sri Lanka. Clad has known the Rajapaksas for many years. He
referred to the President’s brother Gotabaya, the defense minister, as
“Gota.” A fierce critic of the Tigers, Clad said that the organization
had assassinated several Sri Lankans whom he regarded as personal
friends. “The L.T.T.E. was the most deliberately ruthless terrorist
group, bar none, certainly in Asia,” he said. In order to reform Sri
Lanka’s public image, Clad, who recently retired from the Pentagon’s
National Defense University, recommended to Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he
host a meeting on maritime-security concerns in the Indian Ocean. It
would help Sri Lanka “get out of its box as a ‘single-issue country’
and reconnect it with an earlier maritime heritage,” he said. In
August, Clad invited me to the Galle Dialogue, a two-day conference
attended by senior naval officers from more than a dozen countries.
The conclave was held at a luxurious seaside hotel outside the old
colonial fortress city of Galle, in the south. The assembled
commodores and admirals discussed everything from the Mumbai terrorist
attacks of 2008 to the problem of Somali piracy. But mostly the
conference was an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s military leaders to
boast to their colleagues about beating the Tigers. The foreign
speakers congratulated them on their achievement, and asked eagerly
about the techniques they had used. Brigadier General Stanley
Osserman, of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, said, “Sri Lanka has a
lot to offer in the field of terrorism prevention and maritime
security.” Sri Lanka’s Special Forces commander said he had adopted
the Tigers’ own tactics by sending his commandos in small,
guerrilla-style bands to hunt them down. The keynote speaker was
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an owlish, watchful man with a mustache, wearing
spectacles and a gray suit. “Sri Lanka’s victory over terrorism is an
unprecedented event that the world can learn from,” he said. He spoke
of how the Tigers’ international support network had enabled it to
raise funds from the Tamil diaspora and to ship weapons into Sri
Lanka. “At one point, the L.T.T.E. controlled one-third of the Sri
Lankan coastline,” he said. “In this way, heavy weaponry and enormous
quantities of ammunition were brought to Sri Lanka. And this happened
in a post-9/11 world.” Rajapaksa was congratulating the American
observers; it had been the U.S. that helped locate the Tigers’ ships.
Later, the Sri Lankan terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna underscored
much of what Gotabaya had said. “It is a dream that no civilians will
be killed in a counter-insurgency campaign, and civilians died in Sri
Lanka’s,” he said. “But I can assure you that no Sri Lankan soldier
deliberately killed a civilian.” Gotabaya stood up in the audience and
said, “From the very beginning, we had in mind the safety of the
civilian population, and gave our campaign a humanitarian component
along with the military one. One of the ways we did this was to call
our campaign a ‘humanitarian mission.’ ” Gotabaya didn’t address the
allegations that festered in international circles, many of which
focussed on him as the ultimate overseer of the war. The European
Union had just announced that it was rescinding a trade-tariff
agreement on textiles worth several hundred million dollars a year.
And in the past few weeks his government had fought with the United
Nations; after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked to send an advisory
commission to Colombo to discuss accountability issues, an
ultra-nationalist government minister besieged the U.N. Mission in
Colombo at the head of a mob of angry demonstrators. President
Rajapaksa said the U.N.’s involvement was not needed: a “Lessons
Learnt” commission, which he had appointed, would look into things
instead. A Western military observer told me that he believed that the
abortive U.N. human-rights resolution had come at exactly the wrong
time. “All that did was to box them in and give heart to the most
extreme Sinhalese voices,” he said. “You have to keep in mind the
Sinhalese national psyche. They do not say thank you, and they do not
say sorry. That’s from the Defense Minister on down. He’s very nice,
but if you box him in he’ll turn into a nasty little animal.” Within
Sri Lanka, even Sinhalese critics of the Rajapaksas have been savagely
attacked, and challenges to the government’s explanation of the war
have been brutally put down. The most prominent critic has been
General Sarath Fonseka, Gotabaya’s handpicked subordinate and the
commander of the final offensive against the Tigers. When Mahinda
Rajapaksa called the snap Presidential election, after the war’s end,
Fonseka announced his own candidacy. The campaign was ugly. Fonseka,
who had been the face of Sri Lanka’s military victory, presented
himself as the country’s true liberator. Rajapaksa accused him of
plotting a coup and revealed bank accounts that hinted he was corrupt.
Fonseka lost the election badly, but he emerged as the country’s main
opposition leader. In an interview two weeks after the election,
Fonseka insinuated that Gotabaya was guilty of war crimes for ordering
the execution of Tiger leaders who had surrendered. “I am definitely
going to reveal what I know, what I was told, and what I heard,” he
said. “Anyone who has committed war crimes should definitely be
brought into the courts.” Within hours, Fonseka had been arrested. He
was later charged with corruption and violating his military oath of
office by plotting his political career while still in uniform.
Gotabaya suggested that he could be tried for treason, and told a BBC
reporter that he should hang if he was found guilty. With Fonseka in
prison, his wife carried on a campaign in his name for a subsequent
parliamentary election, which he won, even though his loyalists were
harassed and, in some cases, abducted by plainclothes thugs. In
Colombo, a Sinhalese human-rights lawyer said, “The Fonseka case shows
people that the Rajapaksas will go after anyone seen as a threat. They
defeated the L.T.T.E. and have decimated their main political
opposition, and now they are going after those who are critical of
them.” The government has acted unsparingly against journalists,
human-rights activists, civic leaders, and others. In the most
notorious case, in January, 2009, the prominent newspaper editor
Lasantha Wickrematunge was attacked as he drove to work in Colombo’s
city center; motorcycle-riding assailants forced his car to stop and
fatally shot him in front of dozens of onlookers. At the time of his
murder, his newspaper, the Sunday Leader, was being sued for
defamation by Gotabaya Rajapaksa after it implicated him in alleged
corruption. A few days later, the newspaper ran an editorial titled
“And Then They Came for Me,” which Wickrematunge had left behind in
the event of his murder. In it, he excoriated Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom
he described as an old friend who had become power-hungry and corrupt,
for undermining Sri Lanka’s democracy through state terror. “Murder
has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the
organs of liberty,” he wrote. “When finally I am killed, it will be
the government that kills me.” Addressing Rajapaksa, he predicted, “In
the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious
noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry.
But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will
come of this one, too.” In an interview afterward with Time, President
Rajapaksa was asked about Wickrematunge. “He was a good friend of
mine. He had informed somebody to inform me” that he was in danger, he
said. “But unfortunately, I didn’t get that message. I would have told
him to go to the nearest police station. No one knows what happened.”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa received James Clad and me in a sitting room of his
house, a British-era villa in a large garden compound in Colombo. The
room was impersonally furnished with fifties-style blue settees and
abstract geometric paintings, all government-issue. The Defense
Minister was casually attired in a T-shirt, sweatpants, and
flip-flops. He coughed in a compulsive way, as if he had a nervous
tic. It was a little before the dinner hour, so he called for an
orderly to bring in the liquor trolley. He didn’t drink, he said, and
didn’t know what he had in the house. He knew only that he had a
bottle of “Fonseka.” Would we like a drink of that? He grinned. On the
trolley was a bottle of Fonseca Bin No. 27, a brand of port. He
laughed delightedly at his joke. He had a high-pitched giggle, which
broke out at odd moments throughout the evening That was the day that
Sri Lanka’s papers had carried the news that a military court had
convicted Fonseka of involvement in politics while in service and
stripped him of his rank and military honors. (He was later sentenced
to thirty months in prison.) I suggested that the timing of Fonseka’s
arrest—only hours after he had accused Gotabaya of war crimes—made it
look like a personal vendetta. Gotabaya coughed and giggled and waved
his hands dismissively. “No, no. He made those same accusations during
the campaign, many times. I could have arrested him then if it was
about that. In fact, I should have arrested him earlier.” Gotabaya
evinced a grudging admiration for Prabhakaran, for his “ruthless
dedication to his cause,” but acknowledged that he had felt “very
happy” when he was told of his death. As for Sri Lanka’s national
reconciliation, Gotabaya said that he believed his brother’s
proposals, to win the peace through economic development, showed the
right way forward. The average Tamil, like the average Sinhalese, he
said, just wanted to get on with his life. Referring to the Tamils’
long-standing wish for secession, he said, “All that business about
separation is something only politicians care about.” When I asked
about the suspicions that the government was attempting to change the
demographics of the Tamil lands by swamping them with Sinhalese
soldiers, he said, with a laugh, “We should do that, but it’s
difficult.” Clad gently lobbied Gotabaya to renew the country’s
relationship with the International Committee of the Red Cross. In the
last days of the war, the I.C.R.C. had been restricted to removing
wounded civilians from Mullaittivu by sea, and ever since it had been
grounded at its headquarters in Colombo. In the final months of the
war, the Army had repeatedly bombed the I.C.R.C.’s emergency hospital
facilities, killing three employees and scores of patients. Gotabaya
had blamed the Tigers. In a report prepared by the International
Crisis Group, “War Crimes in Sri Lanka,” the hospital attacks feature
strongly in the case against Gotabaya. Gotabaya warily said that he
was willing to have the Red Cross stay on if the organization would
agree to a new understanding of its activities on the island. “We must
forget the past and look to the future,” he said. Lowering his voice
confidentially, he added, “The problem is the I.C.R.C.—some of their
people had been here for a long time, and became friendly with the
L.T.T.E.” He suggested that the Red Cross and other international
relief agencies were long-time accomplices of the Tigers. In December,
2006, he had nearly been assassinated by a Black Tiger driving a
rickshaw rigged with explosives; he pointed out that the bomber had
been a Tamil employee of the relief organization care. He said, “So I
say to the I.C.R.C., ‘Bring new people and let’s have a fresh start.’
” After dinner, Gotabaya led us outside. Across his lawn, by the
garden’s high security wall, was a huge, illuminated outdoor aquarium.
Inside, several large, unmistakable shapes moved relentlessly back and
“Are those sharks?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you want to see them?”
We crossed the lawn and stood in front of the tank, which was eight
feet tall and twenty feet wide. There were four sharks, each about
four feet long, swimming among smaller fish.
I told Gotabaya that they looked like black-tipped reef sharks. He
shrugged. “They’re my wife’s,” he said. She knew everything about
them, he explained, but she was away on a visit to the States. All he
knew was that the tank needed to be changed with fresh seawater every
two weeks. “They bring it in special tanker trucks,” he said, watching
the sharks. He giggled softly.


“Is it over?” I asked a Sinhalese politician in Colombo.
“The war is over, but the conflict is not,” he replied. “The problem
goes beyond the existence of the L.T.T.E. The problem is that this
country does not accommodate its minorities well.” Several of Sri
Lanka’s governments had attempted to make political accommodations to
the Tamils, he said, but Sinhalese nationalists had always vetoed
them. “This is the perfect time to offer an accommodation to the
moderate Tamils who have rejected violence.” But, he said, “I think
Rajapaksa will not make conciliatory gestures, because he is himself
an ardent Sinhala nationalist.” The politician explained that he
needed to speak off the record, because, although he knew Rajapaksa
personally, it would be “counterproductive” to voice his criticisms
publicly. By the second anniversary of the war’s end, the Army’s
“welfare camps” had been largely emptied out. But many of the Tamils I
encountered felt that the peace was perilously fragile. In an eastern
town called Vakarai, a Tamil youth leader who went by the name
Prabhakaran told me, “We only hope the international community can
bring pressure to bear on the government, because a dignified and
honorable solution is necessary for the Tamil people.” Without it, he
said, “we cannot say that a second war will not come. It will bring
great destruction if and when it happens.” In Lasantha Wickrematunge’s
posthumous editorial, published four months before the Tigers were
crushed at Mullaittivu, he wrote, “There is no gainsaying that [the
Tigers] must be eradicated.” But, he argued, a “military occupation of
the country’s north and east will require the Tamil people of those
regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all
self-respect. Do not imagine you can placate them by showering
‘development’ and ‘reconstruction’ on them in the postwar era. The
wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will have an even more
bitter and hateful diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a
political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield
strife for all eternity.” The same might be written about any number
of entrenched conflicts around the world. To solve these problems,
General David Petraeus and others have placed great hope in a doctrine
of counter-insurgency that tempers military action with
nation-building and careful community work. But it should not be
forgotten that the more effective counter-insurgencies, like Sri
Lanka’s, are hideous in practice. They involve killing many people and
terrorizing many more. In Afghanistan, Petraeus has told his field
commanders to “drink lots of tea” with the locals. This effort had at
best mixed results. At the same time, along the border with Pakistan,
the C.I.A. has been successfully sponsoring the Counterterrorist
Pursuit Team, a paramilitary group of three thousand Afghans. It was
with the help of such proxies that Petraeus rolled back Iraq’s
insurgency in 2007 and 2008. That effort involved a great deal of
outright killing, both on and off the battlefield. In the end, it
mostly worked. We know that Sri Lanka’s conflict ended in a bloodbath,
even though it occurred, as intended, out of sight. In the face of all
the official denials and the diplomatic language about accountability,
there is Wickrematunge’s grim prediction of his country’s future and
his own. And there is the stubbornly ineradicable video of naked
Tamils being kicked and shot and laughed at by their uniformed
killers. ♦

Full interview with House @SpeakerPelosi @CBSNews Face the Nation

read more

04-NOV-2019 :: Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin phrase, meaning "with a turned thumb", that is used in the context of gladiatorial combat.
Law & Politics

Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin phrase, meaning “with a
turned thumb”, that is used in the context of gladiatorial combat. It
refers to the hand gesture or thumb signal used by Ancient Roman
crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. The Madison Square
UFC 244 verso pollice moment is a Shakespeare level moment for
President Trump

read more

Hong Kong is Xi Jinping's failure @FT @gideonrachman
Law & Politics

The situation in Hong Kong is a nightmare for Xi Jinping. China’s
president has made the restoration of his country’s power and dignity
the central theme of his presidency. But part of China’s sovereign
territory has descended into violent anarchy.
Universities have turned into battlegrounds. Protesters are hurling
Molotov cocktails at the police, but they appear to retain a strong
measure of support from the population.
Chinese troops have appeared on the streets — but so far only to help
clear the roads. Deploying them against the demonstrators could plunge
Hong Kong into a long-term insurrection, similar to Belfast in the
1970s or Algiers in the 1950s.
Mr Xi could plausibly argue that the immediate crisis is not his
fault. The spark for the first demonstrations in June was the
introduction of a bill allowing extradition of criminal suspects from
Hong Kong to mainland China.
By most accounts that was an idea pushed by Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s
chief executive. When Beijing saw the depth of the opposition, it
tried to react sensibly by suspending the bill. But, by then, the
protest movement had broadened its aims and gathered an irresistible
Mr Xi bears a broader responsibility. In the seven years since he came
to power, the Chinese state has become significantly more
authoritarian, preparing the ground in Hong Kong for a backlash
against rule from Beijing.
An anti-corruption drive has seen prominent figures disappear from
public life on the mainland and a rash of suicides among Communist
party officials.
More than a million people have been interned in re-education camps in
the province of Xinjiang.
The treatment of Xinjiang is often cited by demonstrators in Hong Kong
as a sign of how far Beijing will go to crush cultural and regional
The increasingly Kafkaesque legal system of mainland China stands in
stark contrast with Hong Kong’s own tradition of the rule of law.
But during the Xi period, the mainland’s intolerance for free speech
and thuggish attitude towards the law has seeped into Hong Kong
The case of some Hong Kong booksellers who were kidnapped — then
detained on the mainland — sent a chilling message as did the decision
to ban elected lawmakers from the Hong Kong assembly, for mangling
loyalty oaths to China.
Prominent anti-Beijing political activists such as Joshua Wong and
Edward Leung were imprisoned. Mr Wong is now out of jail, while the
still-imprisoned Mr Leung finds his slogan, “Free Hong Kong,
revolution now”, chanted on the streets.
There were always tensions inherent in the uneasy formula of “one
country, two systems”. In 2003, there were big demonstrations against
a proposed national security law for Hong Kong, pushed by Beijing.
But, in the 15 years between the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to
China in 1997 and the accession to power of Mr Xi in 2012, those
tensions proved manageable.
Hong Kong citizens could reasonably hope that mainland China might
evolve into a more liberal and law-governed society in the decades
running up to the full integration of Hong Kong with China, scheduled
for 2047.
But during the Xi years, China has gone backwards politically.
Maoist-era slogans have been revived and “Xi Jinping Thought” has been
written into the Chinese constitution.
Free speech has been further restricted; civil rights lawyers have
been locked up and non-governmental organisations have been closed
It is hardly surprising if Hong Kong now regards the prospect of full
integration with the mainland with horror. And that date no longer
seems impossibly far-off.
The most radical demonstrators are often in their teens or early
twenties. They will be in the prime of their lives when the second
handover takes place in 2047.
So their assertions that they are fighting for their freedom cannot be
dismissed as hyperbole — even if their tactics can be challenged.
The current revolt raises questions not just about Mr Xi’s handling of
Hong Kong, but about his entire project.
The president’s mantra is “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese
people” and central to that is the restoration of national territorial
integrity. After Hong Kong, the next step is meant to be Taiwan.
The Chinese government has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan if
the self-governing island were ever to declare formal independence.
However, if Beijing cannot control the streets of Hong Kong, the idea
that mainland China could successfully conquer Taiwan seems
Just as disturbingly for Mr Xi’s vision, the rebellion in Hong Kong
undermines a central tenet of the patriotic education pushed by the
Communist party: namely that there is “one China” and that all Chinese
people long for nothing more than to be united.
It is now clear that millions of Hong Kongers do not feel that ethnic
solidarity overrides their political concerns about mainland China. On
the contrary, they are increasingly asserting a separate Hong Kong
identity, that is often tinged with prejudice against mainlanders.
Watching events unfold in Hong Kong inspires a fear of impending
tragedy. But finding a peaceful way out would require Mr Xi to display
a humility, open-mindedness and tolerance for opposing points of view
that seem completely alien to him and the system that he has created.

read more

China calls on US to 'stop flexing muscles' in South China Sea @Reuters
Law & Politics

The remarks by Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to U.S. Defense
Secretary Mark Esper, recounted by a Chinese spokesman, came just two
weeks after a top White House official denounced Chinese
“intimidation” in the busy waterway.
It also came a day after Esper publicly accused Beijing of
“increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its
strategic objectives” in the region.
During closed-door talks on the sidelines of a gathering of defence
ministers in Bangkok, Wei urged Esper to “stop flexing muscles in the
South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South
China Sea”, the spokesman, Wu Qian, said.
China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea,
where it has established military outposts on artificial islands.
However, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also
have claims to parts of the sea.
The United States accuses China of militarising the South China Sea
and trying to intimidate Asian neighbours who might want to exploit
its extensive oil and gas reserves.
The U.S. Navy regularly vexes China by conducting what it calls
“freedom of navigation” operations by ships close to some of the
islands China occupies, asserting freedom of access to international
Asked specifically what Wei sought for the United States to do
differently, and whether that included halting such freedom of
navigation operations, Wu said: “We (call on) the U.S. side to stop
intervening in the South China Sea and stop military provocation in
the South China Sea.”
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Esper, in his
meeting with Wei, noted China’s “perpetual reluctance” to adhere to
international norms.
“Secretary Esper pointedly reiterated that the United States will fly,
sail and operate wherever international law allows - and we will
encourage and protect the rights of other sovereign nations to do the
same,” Hoffman said.
Despite warm words exchanged in front of reporters, Wei and Esper also
discussed thorny issues, including Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which has
seen months of anti-government protests.
They also talked about democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as
a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and
important territorial issue.
Fenghe underscored to Esper China’s position that it would “not
tolerate any Taiwan independence incident”, Wu said, adding that it
opposed any official or military contact with Taiwan.
China has in the past threatened to attack if Taiwan, set to hold a
presidential election next year, moves towards independence.
“The Chinese side also requires the U.S. side to carefully handle the
Taiwan related-issue and to not add new uncertainties to the Strait,”
Wu said.
The exchange came a day after news that China sailed a carrier group
into the sensitive Taiwan Strait, led by its first domestically built
aircraft carrier.

read more

China's aircraft carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait to take part in drills in the South China Sea.
Law & Politics

In a statement, the Chinese Navy said the carrier passed through the
Taiwan Strait on Sunday night, going to the South China Sea for
"scientific tests and routine drills".
"The organisation of the trials and drills of the domestic aircraft
carrier through the region is a normal arrangement in the construction
process of the aircraft carrier," it said.
"It is not aimed at any specific target and has nothing to do with the
current situation."
The ministry did not elaborate. It made no mention of the carrier
being trailed by American and Japanese ships, which Taiwan's defence
ministry had mentioned in its statement.

read more

15-OCT-2018 :: War is coming @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics

The US military is reportedly planning to send US warships, combat
aircraft, and troops through the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and
other contested waterways next month in a series of exercises designed
to send a message to Bei- jing in November. The incident with the USS
Decatur where a Chinese warship came within 45 yards of the USS
Decatur in South China Sea is surely a precursor.

read more

"String of Pearls" port-acquisition spree under #BeltandRoad makes even more sense in this light. It's about controlling the littoral zones. @man_integrated
Law & Politics

It's not just about dual-use infrastructure supporting trade and the
Chinese naval supply chain.

It's about controlling the littoral zones.

read more

THE CHANGING OF THE OVERLORDS From the Rubble of the U.S. War in Iraq, Iran Built a New Order @theintercept #irancables
Law & Politics

ABOUT A MONTH before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003,
Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein’s most trusted comrades, sat in his
office in Baghdad in an olive green uniform, cigar in hand, wearing
house slippers. The man who for decades had served as the public face
of high-stakes Iraqi diplomacy offered a political analysis that might
well have gotten him executed in years past.
“The U.S. can overthrow Saddam Hussein,” said Aziz, an Iraqi Christian
and one of the most senior figures in Saddam’s government. “You can
destroy the Baath Party and secular Arab nationalism.” But, he warned,
“America will open a Pandora’s box that it will never be able to
The iron-fisted rule of Saddam, draped in the veneer of Arab
nationalism, he argued, was the only effective way to deal with forces
like Al Qaeda or prevent an expansion of Iranian influence in the
When the U.S. invaded, Aziz was the eight of spades in the card deck
the Pentagon created to publicize its high-value targets. He was
ultimately captured, held in a makeshift prison at the Baghdad
airport, and forced to dig a hole in the ground to use as a latrine.
He died in custody of a heart attack in June 2015. But Aziz lived long
enough to watch exactly what he warned of come to pass, accusing U.S.
President Barack Obama of “leaving Iraq to the wolves.”
The 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq marked the moment when the
U.S. lost control of its own bloody chess game. The chaos unleashed by
the U.S. invasion allowed Iran to gain a level of influence in Iraq
that was unfathomable during the reign of Saddam.
Secret documents from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and
Security, obtained by The Intercept, give an unprecedented picture of
how deeply present-day Iraq is under Iranian influence. The
sovereignty once jealously defended by Arab nationalists has been
steadily eroded since the U.S. invasion.
In reality, the U.S. shattered Iraq and ultimately walked away. It was
Iran that ended up figuring out what to do with the pieces.
A LITTLE OVER a decade before George W. Bush decided to overthrow the
Iraqi government, his father’s administration had taken a very
different path. After mercilessly destroying Iraq’s civilian and
military infrastructure in a bombing campaign during the 1991 Gulf
War, George H.W. Bush was persuaded that it would be too dangerous to
march on Baghdad. Not because of the potential human costs, or deaths
of U.S. soldiers in combat, but because Saddam was a known quantity
who had already proven valuable in the 1980s when he attacked Iran and
triggered the brutal Iran-Iraq War. During that eight-year conflict,
the U.S. armed both countries but overwhelmingly favored Baghdad. More
than a million people died in trench warfare reminiscent of World War
I. Henry Kissinger put a fine point on the U.S. strategy in that war
when he quipped that it is “a shame there can only be one loser.”
Even after the war had ended, the American fear of Iran outweighed any
appetite for regime change in Iraq. So Saddam remained.
In his book on the Iraq War, “Night Draws Near,” the late Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid wrote, “The net effect of
Bremer’s decision was to send more than 350,000 officers and
conscripts, men with at least some military training, into the
streets, instantly creating a reservoir of potential recruits for a
guerrilla war. (At their disposal was about a million tons of weapons
and munitions of all sorts, freely accessible in more than a hundred
largely unguarded depots around the country.)” A U.S. official, quoted
anonymously by the New York Times Magazine at the time, described
Bremer’s decision more bluntly: “That was the week we made 450,000
enemies on the ground in Iraq.”
When the Sunni city of Fallujah was first attacked by the U.S. in
April 2004, following the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries, Sadr
organized blood donations and aid convoys and condemned the American
aggression. For a brief moment, the U.S. had very nearly united Shia
and Sunni forces in a war against a common enemy.
 The Iraqi state that had existed before the war had been utterly
destroyed. For better and for worse, Iran has sought to fill the
gaping void in Iraq that Washington’s policies created. Out of the
rubble of the country, Iranian leaders saw an opportunity to create a
new order — one that would never again threaten them the way Saddam
Hussein’s regime had.
The sovereignty of Iraq was effectively annihilated by the 2003 U.S.
invasion, but the idea of an Iraqi nation is still cherished by young
people in the streets braving bullets to assert their independence.

read more

Controversy has also swirled around perhaps the most famous icon of the war, the photo of the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square #irancables
Law & Politics

Controversy has also swirled around perhaps the most famous icon of
the war, the photo of the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in
Firdos Square. This picture was initially presented as a candid
photograph of jubilant Iraqi citizens spontaneously pulling down the
huge symbol of the Iraqi dictator. However, it was later learned that
the scene was closely managed by a US Colonel and PSYOP (Psychological
Operations) team who cordoned off the square, allowed a relatively
small group of Iraqi émigrés to gather around the statue, and then
used armored vehicles and steel cables to pull the statue down for the
cheering Iraqi group (Fahmy, 2007; Griffin, 2008). Overall, US war
coverage in Iraq stands in stark contrast to modernist expectations of
photographic witnessing and recording, providing instead a prime
example of government managed and institutionally constrained
reporting and featuring a limited and sanitized range of visual

read more

Saddam Hussein's Last Words: "To the Hell that is Iraq!?"
Law & Politics

The execution fell during Eid ul-Adha, a holy day for Muslims. The
date of the execution is perhaps one of the most compromising signals
that the execution was indeed a psychological operation (PSYOP)
Background voices, which are very hard to hear, are having a
conversation in the background and someone calls someone else in the
execution chamber by "Ali" or is looking for "Ali."
Saddam Hussein: "I testify that Mohammed is the Messenger of God."
Saddam Hussein: "Oh God." [saying this in preparation, as is Middle
Eastern custom, as the noose is put around his neck]
One voice leads customary Muslim prayer (called a salvat): "May God's
blessings be upon Mohammed and his companions/household [family]."
All Voices, including Saddam Hussein, repeat the customary prayer:
"May God's blessings be upon Mohammed and his companions/household
A group of voices: "Moqtada...Moqtada ...Moqtada." [Meaning the young
Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr] ...
Saddam with amusement: "Moqtada...Moqtada! Do you consider this
bravery?" [This can also be translated as meaning "Is this your
Several individuals say several times: "To Hell [hell-fire]!" [This
can be translated as "Go to Hell!"]
Saddam Hussein mockingly replies/asks: "To the hell that is Iraq!?"
Others voices: "Long live Mohammed Baqir Al-Sadr."
Single Voice: "Please do not [stop]. The man is being executed. Please
no, please stop."
Saddam Hussein starts recitation of final Muslim prayers: "I bear
witness that there is no god but God and I testify that Mohammed is
the Messenger of God. I bear witness that there is no god but God and
I testify that Mohammed..." [Saddam Hussein is suddenly interrupted
without finishing his prayer with the opening of the trap door.]
Several Voices: "The tyrant [dictator] has collapsed!"
Other voices: "May God's blessings be upon Mohammed and his household (family)."
Single Voice: "Let him hang for eight minutes."
Many conversations continue in the background about Saddam Hussein.

read more

28-OCT-2013 ::@BarackObama and @HassanRouhani The 2 Husseins
Law & Politics

THE recent rapprochement between President Barack Obama and Iran’s
Hassan Rouhani has certainly snapped a losing sequence in US-Iran
relations that goes all the way back to the Iranian revolution in 1979
when Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of

International Markets

read more

Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1077
Dollar Index 97.77
Japan Yen 108.62
Swiss Franc 0.9898
Pound 1.2962
Aussie 0.6799
India Rupee 71.836
South Korea Won 1168.20
Brazil Real 4.2181
Egypt Pound 16.1381
South Africa Rand 14.8061

read more

18-NOV-2019 :: The Lotos-Eaters and the UK Election
World Currencies

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum took place in
the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on 23 June 2016. The Result was
17,410,742 votes [51.9%] for Leave and 16,141,241 votes [48.1%] for
Remain. The Pound crashed. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned by
July that Year. PM Theresa May stepped in but threw in the Towel three
years later and now Boris Johnson is Prime Minister and leading the
Charge towards an election on Tuesday 12th December where Boris is
seeking a decisive Mandate against Jeremy Corbyn.
"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land,
"This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."
The Lotos-eaters is a Poem by Lord Tennyson
In ''The Lotos-Eaters'', The Brother Mariners lose themselves
''There is sweet music here that softer falls Than petals from blown
roses on the grass, Or night-dews on still waters between walls''
and it certainly is as if the the mighty United Kingdom has lost
itself in a Brexit reverie for more than three years now just like
those Mariners did in ''The Lotos-Eaters'' The cold blade of logic has
been blunted by information warfare struggles.
The US officer assigned to the deputy chief of staff (Intelligence),
charged with defining the future of warfare, wrote “One of the
defining bifurcations of the future will be the conflict between
information masters and information victims.”
This information warfare will not be couched in the rationale of
geopolitics, the author suggests in the US army war college quarterly
1997.  but will be “spawned” - like any Hollywood drama - out of raw
emotions. “Hatred, jealousy, and greed - emotions, rather than
strategy - will set the terms of [information warfare] struggles”.
So here we are. Both Protagonists Boris and Jeremy are promising
Heaven on Earth.
“It would be optimistic to assume that the previously cohesive,
predictable approach to legislation and policymaking in the UK will
return once Brexit is no longer a contentious issue, however that is
achieved,” the ratings agency Moodys said. Moody’s said Britain’s 1.8
trillion pounds ($2.30 trillion) of public debt - more than 80% of
annual economic output - risked rising again and the economy could be
“more susceptible to shocks than previously assumed.”
Both of the main political parties have promised big spending
increases ahead of next month’s election.
“In the current political climate, Moody’s sees no meaningful pressure
for debt-reducing fiscal policies,” the ratings agency said.
Moody’s said the “increasing inertia and, at times, paralysis that has
characterized the Brexit-era policymaking process” showed how the UK’s
institutional framework has diminished. Moody’s, which stripped the
country of its AAA rating in 2013 and downgraded it again in 2017,
said it was lowering the outlook on Britain’s current Aa2 rating to
negative from stable, meaning the rating could be cut again.
This is a ''Never-Neverland'' World.
Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are in the Lead in most of the
Polls and the Brexiteer Nigel Farage has seemingly stood down with no
doubt promises of a Peerage. Jeremy Corbyn is however a formidable
Campaigner and You will recall Theresa May was a Shoe-in supposedly.
Of course, Corbyn's economic policies are a Nicolas Maduro redux and
if he shuts down all the Public Schools [which, of course, are
private] in a fit of pique, International money which in fact put the
Great in Great Britain will fly off in a blink of an eye.  And on top
of all that You have Donald Trump turning up a day or so before the
election just in time to give Corbyn an almighty boost because in
reality the UK electorate see Trump as an ''Oaf'' Meanwhile, lurking
behind the curtain stage left are the likes of  US businesswoman
Jennifer Arcuri [who] has accused Boris Johnson of brutally casting
her aside “like some one-night stand” and leaving her “heartbroken”
since he became prime minister and the controversy over their
four-year relationship became public.
“I’ve kept your secrets, and I’ve been your friend. And I don’t
understand why you’ve blocked me and ignored me as if I was some
fleeting one-night stand or some girl that you picked up at a bar
because I wasn’t - and you know that. And I’m terribly heartbroken by
the way that you have cast me aside like I am some gremlin ... He
should know me well enough to know who I am ... Shame on him for not
answering the phone.”
The Pound has risen from multi years lows like a Phoenix and has room
to rally further specially if Bojo builds a big lead. UK Gilts are a
Everything pivots on whether there is a clean and clear outcome. Its
very fluid and another hung Parliament is not to be ruled out
especially if Corbyn re ignites a ''Youthquake''

read more

$BTC Bitcoin's slide snowballed on Monday, with the price dropping as much as 5% to test the key $8,000 level, which it hasn't breached since the end of October. @technology 8,145.00
World Currencies

Bitcoin was down 3.3% as of 3:41 p.m. in New York on Monday to trade
around $8,177 and has dropped nearly 11% this month, data compiled by
Bloomberg show

read more

04-NOV-2019 : I am of the view that BITCOIN and crypto is a Jeffrey Edward Epstein [and his cast of characters] level Con Its breathtaking
World Currencies

I am of the view that BITCOIN and crypto is a Jeffrey Edward Epstein
[and his cast of characters] level Con and I am having nothing to do
with it other than occasionally looking in and admiring the
sophistication and level of the Con. Its breathtaking.

read more

13-AUG-2019 :: The Feedback Loop Phenomenon

China has exerted the power of pull over a vast swathe of the world
over the last two decades. We can call it the China, Asia, EM and
Frontier markets feedback loop.
This feedback loop has been largely a positive one for the last two
decades. With the Yuan now in retreat [and in a precise response to
Trump], this will surely exert serious downside pressure on those
countries in the Feed- back Loop.
The Purest Proxy for the China, Asia, EM and Frontier markets feedback
loop phenomenon is the South African Rand aka the ZAR.

Frontier Markets

Sub Saharan Africa

read more

La France va-t-elle armer le Prix Nobel de la paix ? LE POINT

VIDÉO. « Le Point » s'est procuré la (longue) liste de courses du
Premier ministre éthiopien, Abiy Ahmed, envoyée à l'Élysée : des
Rafale, des hélicoptères et des missiles nucléaires. Par Lavrilleux

read more

Unmarked Gazelle helicopters painted in military camouflage have been spotted in Mozambique @clubOmozambique

Unmarked Gazelle helicopters painted in military camouflage have been
spotted in Mozambique, with speculation they may be used for security
missions by a private military contractor.
According to Mozambican weekly publication Savana, two Gazelles were
seen in Pemba on 6 August. They did not have any insignia or other
markings, but were painted in camouflage colours consistent with that
of French Army Gazelles, indicating they may be ex-French examples.
Savana reports that the crew were eight men in their forties wearing
tan shirts and camouflage pants. It published pictures showing several
white males with the helicopters.
“Aeronautical officials declined to comment on the presence of the
helicopters in Pemba and one of the multinationals operating in the
gas area said the aircraft were not part of its security operation,”
Savana reported.
The publication speculated the aircraft could have been acquired to
combat terrorists operating in Cabo Delgado.

read more

October 2 2019 Mozambique calls on Russian firepower @thetimes

Russian mercenaries and military hardware have arrived in Mozambique
to help the government fight jihadists in the latest example of an
African country turning to Moscow for help.
The contingent of about 200 soldiers, including elite troops, three
attack helicopters and crew in the southern African state reflects the
Kremlin’s increased influence on the continent.
The Russians will provide training and combat support in the province
of Cabo Delgado, which has been hit by a wave of atrocities. Over the
past two years in the region a militant group has burnt villages,
carried out beheadings and driven hundreds of people from their homes.
Those dispatched are said to include troops working for Wagner Group,
the privately owned Russian military group that has been involved in
conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, thus allowing Moscow to deny

read more

28-OCT-2019 :: From Russia with Love

I would argue Putin’s timing is exquisite and optimal and his Model
has an exponential ROI.
Russia’s clout on African soil runs on many tracks, and its expansion
is geared primarily towards hybrid activities. In Moscow’s offer for
Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments,
nuclear power plants, and railway connections.
Andrew Korybko writes Moscow invaluably fills the much-needed niche of
providing its partners there with “Democratic Security”, or in other
words, the cost-effective and low-commitment capabilities needed to
thwart colour revolutions and resolve unconventional Wars
(collectively referred to as Hybrid War).
To simplify, Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly
devised bespoke solutions for confronting incipient and ongoing color
revolutions, just like its private military contractors (PMCs) have
supposedly done the same when it comes to ending insurgencies.
Once we look through the Optics of two nuclear-capable supersonic
bombers belonging to the Russian Air Force landing in Pretoria for the
aircraft’s first-ever landing on the African continent and, according
to an embassy official, only the second country in which it has made a
public appearance outside of Russia.
The first was Venezuela. Then we need to see this move for what it is.
It is meaningful.
Where Xi is fed up and speaks about the ‘’The End of Vanity’’ because
the ROI [outside commodities and telecoms for China] is negative,
Putin has created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. I would
imagine he is on speed dial.

read more

Zambia's Tanking Kwacha May Stay Vulnerable Even After Rate Hike @markets.

Zambia may be in no mood to tolerate much more currency depreciation,
but it will be hard-pressed to prevent it.
The central bank increased its overnight lending rate by 10 percentage
points on Friday to a record high of 28%. The goal was to instill
“stability in the market and to rein in inflationary pressures,” it
The kwacha has depreciated 4.7% this month against the dollar, almost
as much as Chile’s peso, the world’s worst performer, leaving it 15%
weaker this year.
Inflation, meanwhile, accelerated to a three-year-high of 10.7% last month.
“The central bank is looking to tighten kwacha liquidity, perhaps to
quell demand for foreign exchange,” said Phumelele Mbiyo, a senior
economist at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg.
The Monetary Policy Committee will also increase the copper producer’s
base rate by 100 basis points to 11.25% on Wednesday, Mbiyo predicted.
There’s no guarantee the monetary tightening will work. Markets have
long fretted about Zambia’s external debts, which the kwacha’s decline
will only make more expensive to service.
Zambia’s dollar-bond yields average 19.6%, according to Bloomberg
Barclays Indexes. That’s far into distressed territory, with only
Argentina and Lebanon in a worse position.
The southern African nation has $3 billion of Eurobonds outstanding.
Its ratio of debt to gross domestic product will rise to 92% by the
end of 2019, triple the figure from 2015, according to the
International Monetary Fund.
The situation is exacerbated by the government’s struggle to rein in
spending and a severe drought, which is hammering agricultural output
and hydropower generation.
“The Bank of Zambia is in a challenging position,” Mbiyo said. “Most
of the pressures facing the economy are either due to exogenous shocks
because of the drought conditions earlier in the year or due to
fiscal-policy conduct.”

read more

14-OCT-2019 :: The Canary in the Coal Mine is Zambia.

“Investors have lost faith in government promises to get spending
under control and the government has fallen out with the IMF as well,”
he said. In Zambia, Eurobonds are trading at 60c in the $.

read more

Zimbabwe Central Bank Reverses Policy and Halves Key Rate to 35% @economics

Zimbabwe’s central bank halved its key interest rate to 35%, joining
the finance ministry in efforts to revive an economy hobbled by years
of mismanagement.
The decision reverses a move by the southern African nation’s newly
formed Monetary Policy Committee in September that raised the rate
from 50%.
It follows the unveiling last week of the 2020 budget which shows a
planned surge in spending for next year.
The rate was cut as the MPC “emphasized the need for the bank to put
in place measures to fund the productive sectors of the economy by
redirecting excess liquidity in the financial system,” Governor John
Mangudya said in a statement.
While the moves by the monetary and fiscal authorities seek to boost
the economy that’s forecast to contract this year, it could drive up
price growth in a nation that a decade ago had to abandon its own
currency due to hyperinflation that reached an estimated 500 billion
The government dropped a one-to-one peg of its quasi currency to the
dollar in February and later outlawed the use of foreign exchange.
Since then, the currency has lost almost 94% of its value against the
The worst regional drought in almost 40 years hit food supplies and
left about half of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people without reliable
access to enough to eat, further driving up costs.
Despite a spike in the monthly inflation rate to 38.8% in October, the
central bank says the outlook for price growth is positive.
While the country stopped releasing annual figures in August, the rate
is 440%, according to John Robertson, an independent economist in
“The inflation rate itself says the interest rate should be set a lot
higher,” Robertson said. “It’s a whole collection of imbalances and
the interest rate is one of them.”
The October inflation increase was “due to shocks caused by mainly
adjustments of electricity and fuel prices,” Mangudya said.
The position on interest rates will be reviewed at future MPC
meetings, he said. The panel will convene again on Nov. 29.

read more

21-JAN-2019 :: The Point I am seeking to make is that There is a correlation between high Inflation and revolutionary conditions, Zimbabwe is a classic example

I have been reading Yuval Noah Harari and in his best-seller he says
this about money;
“Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any
system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most effi-
cient system of mutual trust ever devised.”

read more

In Dubai, sharing our story and incredible potential with entrepreneurs and investors, I will continue to toil both at home and abroad to put Zimbabwe back on its feet! @edmnangagwa

In Dubai, sharing our story and incredible potential with
entrepreneurs and investors, particularly in the crucial sectors of
fuel and power. I will continue to toil both at home and abroad to put
Zimbabwe back on its feet!

read more

Public Designation, Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption, of Kenya's Former Attorney General Amos Sitswila Wako @SecPompeo

In addition to the designation of Mr. Wako, the Department is also
publicly designating Wako’s wife, Flora Ngaira, and son, Julius Wako.

read more

.@KeEquityBank buys BCDC, its second bank in DRC @bankelele

Kenya’s Equity Bank Group Holdings has entered an agreement with some
shareholders of Banqué Commerciale du Congo (BCDC) to buy a
controlling stake in the bank with a view to consolidate it with its
DRC subsidiary.
This comes a few years after Equity invested in DRC by purchasing a
stake in ProCredit Bank. At the end of 2018, the DRC constitutes 8% of
Equity group’s revenue, second behind Kenya’s 75% and ahead of Uganda,
Tanzania and Rwanda.
The DRC subsidiary had ~$558 million in assets, accounting for about
half of its regional subsidies, with ~$13 million pre tax profit.
The deal is yet to be approved by shareholders of the institutions,
the central banks of Kenya and the DRC and other regulatory agencies.
The bank has nine branches in Kinshasa, four in the southern part of
the country and sixteen others in the interior of the country
(including Bukavu, Goma and Kisangani).
The main shareholders of BCDC are George Arthur Forrest  & family with
66.53% and the Government of DRC with 25.53%, as well as other
shareholders who own 7.94% of the bank.
In 2017, BCDC had deposits of $485 million, loans of $282 million and
a pre-tax profit of $12 million, that was achieved despite challenges
of currency fluctuations and bad debt provisions.
EDIT- November 19: Equity Group will acquire 66.53% of BCDC by paying
George Arthur Forrest $105 million for 625,354 shares, inclusive of
Equity Group plans to consolidate BCDC with Equity Bank Congo (EBC,
formerly Procredit), and will pay KfW, the German development bank, $9
million for its 7.67% stake in EBC, after KfW exercised a put option
that the Government of DRC will have to approve.
Transaction advisors for the deal are Stanbic Bank Kenya and legal
advisors are Anjarwalla & Khanna.

read more

by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
Login / Register

Forgot your password? Register Now
November 2019

In order to post a comment we require you to be logged in after registering with us and create an online profile.