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United States of America (USA) and the Sinhala-Tamil Ethnic Conflict (Civil war) in Sri Lanka

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United States of America (USA), as a global super power, has strategic, military and economic interests in South Asia and Indian Ocean. At times these interests conflict with those of China and the South Asian regional power India. America played a key role in Sri Lanka’s Sinhala-Tamil ethnic conflict and civil war during the 2006-2009 war (Eelam war 4) and the peace talks that preceded it. Initially USA was against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) because it perceived LTTE as a terrorist organization not interested in a peaceful resolution of the ethnic conflict. So it tilted towards the Sri Lankan government providing diplomatic as well as some military and financial support. It also seems to have provided intelligence about LTTE ship movements and tried to disrupt its financial networks, fund raising and weapons purchases. As the war neared the bloody brutal end in late 2008 and early 2009, America seems to have realized that Sri Lankan government was bent on a military solution and that the Sri Lankan military was executing the war with no consideration for disproportionately large civilian casualties. America did try to restrain Sri Lanka and reduce civilian casualties but unsuccessfully. After the war, America tried to pressure the Sri Lankan government to go for a fair solution to the ethnic conflict. It also supported war crimes and human rights abuses investigation.

The following articles were published before, during and after the 2006-2009 war.


20080602 Sri Lanka: Minority Tamils Should Seek American Help (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2008 (9 KB) (te)

Title is self-explanatory (written in 2008, almost a year before the defeat of LTTE in 2009).

20021201 Sri Lanka, America and India: Two Suitors for a Lady (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2002 (12 KB) (te)

Sri Lanka's geopolitical dance with the global superpower United States of America and the regional power India. Though the cold war is over, Indian and American interests are not necessarily the same in the Indian Ocean and South Asia. If, during an "emergency", Indian and American goals diverge, will Sri Lanka go against the will of its giant neighbor to the north? Can the United States of America rely on Sri Lanka? (This article was written in 2002; relationship between America and Sri Lanka soured after the end of the war in 2009 but those interested in Sri Lankan affairs may find the article useful.)

20080101 Why India, Pakistan, China and America are all Arming the Sri Lankan Military Against Minority Tamils? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, January 2008 (13 KB) (te)

Why did all the major players in the region helped Sri Lanka during the 2006-2009 war? Author explains. There are lessons to be learned (written in 2008).

20020301 Sri Lankan Peace Talks on an American Ship? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2002 (8 KB) (te)

This article was published as the 2002 peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE were taking form. Although it has no direct relevance now, it shows author's out-of-the square solution to a problem facing Sri Lanka at that time.

19971103 Tamils Fought to Protect American Interests in Sri Lanka (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, November 1997 (15 KB) (i, te)

This 1997 article was about events a decade before in 1987. Things have changed substantially. Still the article may be of interest to those who want to know the history and background of the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. An interesting analysis of the triangular relationship between Sri Lanka, India and the United States of America.

19990502 Lessons for USA from Kosovo and their Applications to the Sri Lankan War (by S. Sivalingam), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 1999 (13 KB) (te)

This article was published in 1999 sometime after the European Union and America resolved the Kosovo situation in Yugoslavia.

20010402 American Ambassador Speaks about the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2001 (7 KB) (te)

Comments on American Ambassador's March 2001 statement in Jaffna.

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