Feature Article

Australian think tank seeks ‘selective focus’ on building ‘Sri Lanka MDA’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 08 December 2019, 18:14 GMT]
An Australian think tank, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), established by the government in 2001 and partially funded by the country’s Department of Defence has brought out a geopolitical ‘special report’ of the Indo-Pacific Island States in the context of maritime security and major-power competition prevailing in the Indo-Pacific. The study, which is also assisted by Japan, the other key player in the Quad formation led by the USA, divides the island states into two groups, Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and Indian Ocean island states (IO island states). “Australia’s efforts should be focused on Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the central Indian Ocean,” is one of the key findings of the report. “In Sri Lanka, Australia should focus on helping to develop the national Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) system.”

ASPI Report: Ocen Horizons
“Australia could also work with Sri Lanka on developing expertise in air surveillance, including through regular visits of Australian aircraft,” the report titled ‘Ocean horizons: strengthening maritime security in Indo-Pacific island states’ proposes.

The ASPI’s States-centric paradigm fails to recognise the peoples-centric collective rights, their territorial rights to the sea and the disputed sovereignty claims prevailing in some of the Indo-Pacific islands, including the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka.

The pro-Establishment Tamil diaspora groups working in the USA and Australia must realise the broader paradigm upheld by the States of their host countries.

The net result is going against the collective rights of Eezham Tamils in the homeland, and it is even blocking their escape routes from genocide.

It is time that these groups reassess their neoliberal orientation of lobbyism and re-orientate themselves towards yielding meaningful resistance to the ultimate culprits who uphold the genocidal paradigm in the island.

“Australia is also well placed to make a big difference in the Maldives, which requires significant assistance and is facing numerous security challenges. Australia should focus on helping to build institutions, policies and systems for the more effective use of existing maritime security capabilities,” the report continues in one of its key recommendations to the ‘like-minded’ four states of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad formation: Australia, Japan, India and the US).

The Quad formation is formed to geopolitically checkmate the China's military ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

“[China] has provided some assistance to Sri Lanka in maritime security capacity-building (including a frigate, gifted in 2018), and a Chinese state-owned company controls the port of Hambantota. The Chinese Navy recently confirmed that in future it will seek to use Hambantota for logistical support,” the report observes.

“The US, which is the predominant military power in the Indian Ocean region, has largely avoided playing a high-profile role in maritime security among most IO island states, although it has provided some military assistance to Sri Lanka,” the report observes.

Japan has provided maritime security assistance to Sri Lanka, including two fast patrol boats and two offshore patrol vessels, the report notes adding increasing Japanese efforts lately.

India has also moved, with varying degrees of success, to establish small military presences in several IO island states, including the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles.

“Assisted bu the EU,the islands of the western Indian Ocean are cooperating to build a collective MDA system. In contrast, Sri Lanka is building a stand-alone national MDA system and needs assistance,” the Australian report says.

The subject of ‘People smuggling’ in the report features prominently the issue of Eezham Tamils fleeing the island.

“For source states such as Sri Lanka, people smuggling is a political threat (it’s used to promote claims of discrimination by Tamil groups), as a vector for other illegal activities, and as an impediment to good relations with recipient countries (for example, with Australia),” the report says.

“People-smuggling routes evolve according to changing circumstances. Over the past decade, there’s been a reduction in people trafficking in the eastern Indian Ocean (such as from Sri Lanka to Australia, although there has been somewhat of a resurgence in recent months). However, new routes (such as from Sri Lanka to Réunion) are being opened in the western Indian Ocean,” the ASPI report says.

External Links:
ASPI: Ocean horizons: Strengthening maritime security in Indo-Pacific island states



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