Monday, June 1, 2009

Sri Lanka's crucial role in Indian Ocean power struggle

(TOL)For a tiny, teardrop-shaped fragment in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka punches far above its weight. Its location off the southeastern coast of India may have put it right in the line of the 2004 tsunami, but it also puts it in pole position to exploit the growing geopolitical struggle unfolding in the Indian Ocean.

China’s role in the Sri Lankan civil war is well known. Its deal to build a major port at Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka is part of a regional strategy to create a “string of pearls” of friendly harbours in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma, along key shipping routes through the Indian Ocean. Less well known is India’s involvement in this and other deals. It was Delhi, not Beijing, that Sri Lanka first approached over the Hambantota deal. But having no need of a port so close to home India declined. Full text