Sri Lanka: Decoding Wickremesinghe’s Red Sea Operations

After deciding to ban Chinese ships for a year, he made this decision. The Chinese shipping ban had a significant impact on Ranil. America had invested in the Colombo West Port project before Ranil made these decisions.

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Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe says his country will not strike a separate debt workout deal with China. (Photo by Shinya Sawai/ Nikkei)

Ranil was in the United Nations in September last year. He harshly criticised Western countries, including the United States, from within sideline conferences held at the United Nations. He described the ‘Aukus’ military alliance of the United States, Britain, and Australia as a threat to the Indo-Pacific region. He also spoke out against US meddling in the Indo-Pacific region. During his visit to the UN, he met with the Iranian President and invited him to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government had previously agreed to export tea in exchange for Iranian oil, which was a favourable agreement for Sri Lanka. Ranil also went to Germany and attacked Western countries, including the United States. Subsequently, Ranil travelled to China. China lauded Ranil’s anti-American speeches.

Ranil made a complete U-turn and is now ready to join America’s alliance in the Red Sea against the Houthi Rebel group. Last December, the United States invited Australia to join this alliance, but Australia declined to send warships due to financial constraints. Later, under the influence of the US, Australia joined the coalition against the insurgents and issued a statement. Spain refused to join the American alliance as well. India has increased maritime surveillance against the insurgents but has not joined the US-led alliance. Regardless, Ranil’s attempt to include Sri Lanka in that alliance is perplexing. Iran, on the other hand, has been accused of supporting the Houthi rebels. According to Ranil, this step was taken to protect ships arriving in Sri Lanka. However, that is not a convincing argument.

Ranil followed a strict Americanist policy in the run-up to the presidential election in 2003 and 2019. He authorised the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ranil attempted to sign defence treaties with America and implement the Millennium Project in 2019. He has now abandoned his anti-US stance from the end of last year and expressed his willingness to join the US alliance against the Houthi rebels. After deciding to ban Chinese ships for a year, he made this decision. The Chinese shipping ban had a significant impact on Ranil. America had invested in the Colombo West Port project before Ranil made these decisions. Ranil’s try to show this investment demonstrated that America has faith in its government.

It is unclear whether Ranil made this decision to please America or Israel. Since JR Jayawardene’s time, Ranil has maintained close ties with Israel. Ranil concealed his Israeli connections when relying on Muslim parties. Through his Israeli connections, he has grown to love America.

Source: Mawrata News

Upul Joseph Fernando

Upul Joseph Fernando is a senior journalist and political analyst based in Colombo. He is a contributing editor of Mawrata News, a Sinhala-language daily online newspaper.

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