Sri Lanka is strategically-located as it straddles important Indian Ocean sea lanes, that has always been of interest for many major powers. Regrettably, after gaining independence in 1948 the power greedy rulers of this little island nation never adopted proper foreign policies for a holistic rule fit for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious independent nation to benefit its people.
Instead to retain power the rulers preoccupied themselves with inward looking exclusive policies that was nationalism biased to the majority community. Thus a healthy nation in the region then called Ceylon, changed its name to Sri Lanka and began sliding down into red zone and today with its economy in shambles is heavily relying on other nations to pull it back to black zone. Bitter Truth is Sri Lanka, which faces massive debt repayments and a deepening economic crisis is seeking international financial assistance, particularly from China.
In this scenario, last week saw visits of officials from US, Russia and China to Colombo due to increasing rivalry over their influence in the Indian Ocean region, each with their separate attempts to maintain world hegemony, than to help the island nation to recover from its economic problems.
At present, US is hostile to the close relations Sri Lanka holds with China; yet it was the US, that previously with India backed the government to end its brutal war in 2009, later Washington initiated a regime-change in 2015 with a pro-US president. Whereas, now the US wants to strengthen its ties with island nation to justify the increasing build-up of US military forces across the region.
While China has declared that it will not allow any outside influences to interfere with matters that are essentially internal concerns of Sri Lanka, though it did not name the “outside influences”; but clearly was referring to the US and India, which are seeking to scuttle Colombo’s relations with China.
Russia has now voiced its readiness to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka and provide the Sri Lankan forces with all the weapons they need for security and also wants to boost annual bilateral trade.
Amid these developments, India is engaged in strenuous efforts to keep Sri Lanka under its strategic dominance.
While demagogically Sri Lanka wish to maintain its neutral foreign policy; the whole Indian sub-continent is slowly being sucked into a geopolitical current under conditions of intensifying great power rivalry. It is difficult for Sri Lanka to continue with its neutral foreign policy; only unity with holistic rule could protect the country from this self created mess.
With General Elections not far away, all Sri Lankan must vote in quality members to parliament. For no matter which political alliance take control of the parliament only unity will secure the island nation from any geopolitical currents in the future; if rulers serve a holistic rule, only possible if quality members are elected by the voters.