This discussion should revolve around more of geo-political dynamism rather than narrowing down to local political dynamics which have been the most dominant focus up to date since Mithripala Sirisena defected to the opposition to challenge incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksha at the presidential election to be held tomorrow.
There is strong tendency among some quarters, especially among anti-Mahinda Rajapaksha elements to pooh pooh foreign interferences or International Conspiracies which are at play against Sri Lanka. Anti-Rajapaksha camp alleges this as just a cheap ruse by Rajapakshas to win votes.
For the first time ever since independence if there was a truly genuine effort on the part of any leader to lay the foundation to make Sri Lanka a strong country which can become an influential actor in international arena, it was Mahinda who did it. It was indeed a daunting and uphill task as he was challenging mighty world powers including the most powerful state on earth. He had to employ three strategies which are fundamental towards achieving the above mentioned goal. They include defying the West's undue interferences in the country's internal affairs, defying India's arm twisting behaviour towards Sri Lanka and aligning with a rising power which is going to challenge the West's domination in the world.
Defying the West
Rajapaksh's no-nonsense and no-hanky panky attitude towards the West was best exemplified by defying its threats and going ahead in annihilating the LTTE and wiping out the terrorism from Sri Lanka. Unlike his predecessors he knew that policy of appeasing to the West would never allow him to end terrorism of which main goal was the separatism. The West has never been supportive towards the total elimination of separatism and steadfastly wants to have a parallel non-Sinhala administration in North and East so that Colombo is weak and unstable. Rajapaksha ignored the West's pressure by going ahead with an all-out war against the LTTE aimed at its total defeat. The frantic effort made by the West at the final days of LTTE to rescue its leaders was also ignored by President Mahinda. This steely resolve and guts on the part of Mahinda to go against the West resulted in the total defeat of LTTE. As should obviously be the case Mahinda became a target of the list of mortal enemies of the West as he did something a leader of a third world country would have never ever even dared to dream. So one of the West's strongest guns to keep Sri Lanka unstable and weak was eliminated and top of all Mahinda was determined to continue to defy the West. As I noted in one of my previous posts leadership styles by leaders such as presidents Mahinda and Vladimir Putin who are determined to make their countries strong are loathed by the West and are mercilessly targeted. So the prolonged Regime Change initiative by the West culminated with Mythripala Sirisena's candidacy for the presidency.
India has never been a friend of Sri Lanka. India is responsible for two out of three armed conflicts or insurgencies that took place in the island. Tamil militants were trained in India and armed. That was the most deciding turning point in Island's 30 years long civil war. Then sending IPKF to the country and imposing the 13th amendment to its constitution ignited the second Marxist insurgency in late 80's that left a trail of destruction. India's coercive policies towards Sri Lanka continue to prevail unabated even in post-war period which are exemplified by its anti-Sri Lankan stance at the UNHRC which has been supportive to the West. As I pointed in one of my previous posts "President Mahinda's no nonsense; no hanky panky attitude towards India is best exemplified by his strong resolve when it comes to Tamil Nadu fishermen's poaching in Sri Lanka's waters. The Bottom Fishing, the most disastrous type of fishing technique in the world engaged by Tamil-Nadu fishermen in our waters, would permanently destroy our fishing grounds. But no other predecessors of president Mahinda had guts to resist India's bullish behavior towards Sri Lanka". At the same time Mahinda's one of the outstanding act that defies India's arm twisting behaviour towards Sri Lanka has been his allegiance with China which is the most influential rival to India in many spheres. This has, to a larger extent, helped Mahinda to offset India's undue influence towards Sri Lanka.
Allegiance with China
Mahinda's move to align with China is two forked strategy. Allegiance with China has, to a larger extent, given Mahinda to ward off the West's and India's influence. This has been more of a political strategy employed to make the country strong. The most dominant contribution on the part of China as far as Sri Lanka is concerned, however, in terms of economical benefits. Mahinda badly needed and continues to need foreign loans to embark upon a massive reconstruction drive in post-war Sri Lanka especially in North and East. He initially approached India. But his request was turned down. Then he turned to China. So what followed with China's assistance is history. The biggest beneficiary has been the North and East provinces which bore the brunt of the civil war. The most notable achievement of all has been the construction of Hambantota port which has an immense geo-political value.
China's effort to reinvent the ancient Silk route of which Sri Lanka is located in a very strategic location makes the island immensely important to China's ambitions to become super power. So Sri Lanka's allegiance with China is immensely important to both countries. Sri Lanka' economic rise with China's support is, therefore, a certainty. With Hambantota port being one of the nerve centres in its economic development country's prospects are very much promising.
This is where Sri Lanka has become a pestering thorn in the flesh of the West and India. The latter considers Indian ocean as its own lake while the former tends to lose its naval domination in Asia Pacific's waters as China is in the process of engaged in a massive military modernisation and expansion drive of which Navy has been the biggest beneficiary. Geo-political priorities such as China's rising status towards a Super-Power and its disputes with the neighbours especially with Japan, an ardent ally of the US and home to US's Pacific Fleet have forced China to take this military modernisation and expansion.
Depriving Sri Lanka a golden opportunity to become a strong state
So Mahinda has created a situation in which no leader in a developing country would even dared to dream off. A Sri Lanka free of the West's and India's pestering undue interferences with an impressive economic growth with a support of a rising power is certainly heading towards a strong country.
However, in the event of Common Opposition coming into power we would fairly and squarely be back in to pre 2009 period. The Common Opposition has already declared its policy towards the West, China and India. It has been very much critical towards China's involvement in Sri Lanka and covertly expressed that it won't entertain favourable position towards the former. At the same time It openly declared it would be favourable towards India which will leave no stone unturned to make Sri Lanka another Bhutan with a strong and nationalist leader like Narendra Modi at the helm. No elaboration is needed with regard the policy the Common Opposition would take towards the West. The largest constituent party of the Common Opposition, UNP has always been a pro-West while the prominent personalities like former President Chandrika Kumaranathunga, Mangala Samarweera and Rajitha Senarathan are lackeys of the West. So whatever actions president Mahinda took to make Sri Lanka a strong state defying mighty forces would be undone by the Common Opposition depriving a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to become a strong state which perhaps would never come again.