The current threat of terrorism posed by the extremist Muslim groups is spread throughout the country (AFP)
While Sri Lanka reflects on the Easter Sunday carnage with each passing day, the islanders have come to terms with understanding another reality; the country has to face the threat of terrorism again.
Among all those who worked towards finishing the war and ushering in peace, there is one individual who is most sad about what situation the country is in. He is none other than former President and the present Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa who has told at many forums that ‘I gave the people a country rid of terrorism, but they couldn’t maintain it”.
Naturally he is shattered because this man had tunnel vision when finishing off the war. Today we have a Government led by a prime minister and a president, who heads the security establishment in the country, who together keep passing the ball when it comes to taking responsibility regarding the series of suicide bombings.
- The bottomline is that the country conveniently neglected its security
- the threat posed by the extremist Muslim groups is spread throughout the country
- The government and opposition forces are divided on obtaining foreign assistance to quell terrorism
- President Sirisena might have a few surprises awaiting
In this troubled times one must laud the work of the opposition, led by Rajapaksa. They have not tried to capitalise on the country’s present situation. Even the prime minister has acknowledged this fact.
The bottomline to all this is that the country conveniently neglected its security after finishing off the civil war in 2009. Sri Lanka was able to finish off the war during a focused five year period, largely because geographically the country is so small. The other factor was that the intense battles were concentrated on the northern and eastern parts of the country. But the current threat of terrorism posed by the extremist Muslim groups is spread throughout the country.
There are no avenues to negotiate with extremist Islam groups in Sri Lanka because they are demanding nothing
It is a known fact that President Sirisena has been taking security measures leaving out the prime minister from the equation (AFP)
Who does the extremist rebel group represent?
When the government fought the LTTE led by ruthless tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the regime was taking on a rebel outfit which was fighting for the Tamil cause. Now the government and security establishment are together battling an extremist rebel group who don’t represent the Muslim community and are hellbent on pursuing a fantasy of eliminating those who don’t follow their version of the Quran.
There are no avenues to negotiate with extremist Islam groups in Sri Lanka because they are demanding nothing. Intelligence reports state that a good number of its members are from well to do families and have a sound education. Some of them even have studied abroad and have college degrees.
The outside world goes by the statements government officials make during a catastrophe. Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando accepted that there was information about impending attacks, but added that the defence establishment didn’t expect a attacks of this magnitude. Fernando’s words also leave room for us to think whether he was serving in that capacity while deriving the least job satisfaction.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, a former Army Commander and now a state minister, said recently that some individuals appointed to look into security matters are nice human beings, but are totally incompetent in carrying out duties entrusted to them. Fonseka also said that during the first 48 hours after the bombings he had no opportunity to meet the prime minister. He also maintains the fact that the present government hasn’t taken any advice from him in dealing with the present chaotic situation in the country.
Before the extremists’ plan their next attack they are sure to try reading the mind of President Sirisena; a task almost unthinkable to achieve
The country is on pins
Much of the say about the security in the country is with president Sirisena who has virtually sided with the opposition. It’s a well-established fact that a nation can’t fight terrorism alone and needs international players to chip in. But the sad story is that president Sirisena is taking security measures leaving out the prime minister; who is technically the politician calling the shots because he has formed the government with a majority in parliament.
For the record Sirisena has indicated that he began to mistrust Wickremesinghe once he came to know that what was discussed at the security council meeting appearing in the Daily Mirror newspaper. The government led by Wickremesinghe and opposition forces in the country are divided on the topic of obtaining foreign assistance to quell local terrorism.
The president being out of the country during the series of bomb blasts and he taking such a long time to return to the country has been spoken of in the political scene. Also the fact that the president using social media to find out about a letter that was circulating regarding the warnings of the impending terrorist attacks underscores the fact that social media can reach a larger audience compared to mainstream media. Questions are therefor posed as to why the president endorsed the temporary blocking of social media at a time when the country was struggling to force itself free from under the claws of terrorism?
Despite the international forces, especially America, offering there support to Wickremesinghe and not president Sirisena, we must take into account that the latter wields more power because he is the Executive and also the head of the Security Establishment. Before the extremists’ plan their next attack they are sure to try reading the mind of President Sirisena; a task almost unthinkable to achieve. The unpredictability associated with Sirisena gives an advantage to the state over the extremist rebels who it is fighting against. Terrorists often use the surprise element. President Sirisena might have a few surprises awaiting which might even baffle the most ruthless extremist rebel force. These terrorists probably know that the head of state of this country is a man who even staged a coup to oust the premier, a person who he at one time teamed up with to topple Rajapaksa! The country is on pins now awaiting what might come their way as the next challenge as two unpredictable forces-one the head of state and the other an extremist rebel outfit- ready themselves for the next round of battle.