- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers

In 2002, Tamil (the Liberation Tigers or Tamil Eelam) leadership and Sinhala leadership (the government of Sri Lanka) signed a cease-fire agreement through Norway’s facilitation. Six rounds of peace talks and another two rounds of Geneva peace recovery talks took place. Because of the non-flexible nature of the Sri Lankan government, none of the agreements was implemented (“Peace and the Tamil Tigers?” Editorial, yesterday). Furthermore, the Sri Lankan government used its military and paramilitary to terrorize Tamil Eelam. More than 2,000 Tamils were killed by the Sinhala government and more than 200,000 Tamils were displaced due to the Sinhala military offensives.

The United States didn’t apply any pressure on the Sri Lankan government to implement the agreements. Talks will not help if there is no implementation.

As a respectful and powerful nation, the United States should encourage the Sri Lankan government to implement the already reached agreements and accept a federal system as a minimum solution for the Tamil struggle.

The Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka is purely a political problem and needs a political solution.

VELMAHIBAN

VELAUTHAPILLAI

Ottawa, Ontario

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Sri Lanka is a country where political agitation and peaceful resolution of political issues cannot take place in a meaningful fashion, as the government is quite adept at duplicitously undermining the democratic process and resorting to military oppression of the Tamils (“Charity and terrorism don’t mix,” Editorial, Saturday).

Such a climate has permitted the vast majority of the Tamils to be displaced and become refugees in their own land. The numbers far exceed 200,000 and many of them have been refugees for decades. The government for its part ensures that more than half of them are under a food and medicine embargo while others receive a meager portion of rice and lentil soup. State-run terrorism continues unabated with disappearances, murder and rape. Use of indiscriminate bombing and shelling continues. The government even asked the Tamils to come and live in areas occupied by the military, while occupying more than a third of the land and farmland for high-security zones. Why is the government occupying Tamil areas in the first place?

To add insult to injury, R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, has even given carte blanche to the Sinhala government to prosecute a brutal war against the Tamils. And what’s more, the international community has even bankrolled such a war with funding allocated for development, which includes the north and east of Sri Lanka, where Tamils predominantly live.

The Tamils never have been and never will be a threat to American interests anywhere in the world, let alone harming Americans in their own country. Bundling Tamils with international terrorists is wrong. Under these circumstances, Tamils have to make every effort on their own to look after the refugees in their homeland. You seem to make a sweeping general statement about how “charity and terrorism don’t mix.” The Tamils should not have been trapped in such a general and sweeping net of the law in the first place. I hope U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins’ distinction of “lawful non-violent activity” would continue to be observed.

Sri Lanka has a long history of civilization and culture. Sri Lanka has rather unfortunately fallen into the abyss, and should be helped out of it. The world should not leave smaller communities at the mercy of state terror and should respect the right of self-determination of smaller communities. Powerful and influential voices, such as yours, should speak loud and clear against state terrorism.

P. SHANTIKUMAR

London

The mystery of moderate Muslims

The columns of Cal Thomas (“Charting disloyal tides,” Commentary, Friday) and Diana West (“Let the Muslims fight it out,” Op-Ed, Friday) both speak to the problem of Western strategy in dealing with the Islamist threat. Repeatedly, our problems seem to point to the mystery of the moderate Muslim. Two major decisions currently facing the West exemplify this.

First, Europe must make a decision on Turkey’s membership in the European Union. If there is truly such a thing as a Western-friendly Muslim country, Turkey should exemplify it. Bringing Turkey into the European fold would go far toward strengthening a tradition of secular government within Islam at large. But what if there is not such a thing as a “moderate” Muslim? In that case, Europe has merely facilitated its evolution into Eurabia. Here Mr. Thomas’ column becomes relevant: Can Europeans force Muslim intentions out into the open with a loyalty oath?

Secondly, America’s strategy in Iraq hinges on this question. If there is such a thing as a silent majority of Iraqis who want nothing but to live their lives in peace and safety, then continued use of the American military to support the democratization process is called for. If, however, we truly have no friends among the Shi’ites and Sunnis, then it would be foolhardy to pursue our current course. Our best strategy would be something similar to Mrs. West’s desired outcome of letting the bad guys fight each other. Perhaps we should even foment Shi’ite-Sunni discord and follow a realpolitik course of aiding the weaker side. A critical point to add, however, is that the Kurds do seem to be genuine friends of the United States. We should not betray them.

We stand at a crossroads, so will the real moderate Muslim please stand up? If you are out there, what America and Europe do should matter to you. I do know this: The current public face of the “moderate” Muslim appears to be the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It, among other things, was involved in the publicity stunt the six imams staged on the USAirways flight recently. If CAIR remains your public face, which direction do you think America and Europe will ultimately take?

JAMES D. SINCLAIR

Lexington Park, Md.

Iraq and the Foreign Service

The article “Bidders unready for jobs in Iraq,” (Page 1, Thursday) is a gross distortion of the reality of the readiness of State Department personnel to serve in Iraq.

The Foreign Service has almost without exception filled its vacancies in Iraq — on time and with highly qualified men and women. Because the department uses a process that fills individual jobs throughout the year, on any given day critics claim there are shortages for positions. The truth is that those places are filled nearly every time when the time comes.

Since the war began, there have been more people from the department asking to serve in Iraq than there have been openings. This has nothing to do with ideology and nearly everything to do with the volunteers’ commitments to make a positive difference. The fact that some who stepped forward were deemed more suitable for the jobs than others gives no basis to characterize those not chosen as “unready,” and thereby insinuate that the department is not carrying its load.

Secondly, you impugn the integrity of the country’s Foreign Service by implying that the compensation package is somehow necessary to purchase the services of those who do go. The department changed the pre-existing compensation and benefits package because it did not reflect the hardship, degree of risk and adverse impact on families that service in Iraq entails. The secretary of state has always had the authority to direct assignments, but wisely has recognized that the greatest value to our country in nearly every circumstance will come from those who voluntarily step forward.

Thousands of patriotic American civilians, including State Department civil servants and Foreign Service officers and personnel, have continued to risk their lives to try to build a better Iraq. My request would be that you concentrate more on those who bear the responsibility for what happened rather than on those who have tried to do something about it.

W. ROBERT PEARSON

Former director general of the

Foreign Service

Potomac

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