May 2023

NEW DAWN FOR SRI LANKA?

Sir

As a fellow Sri Lankan, I read Neville de Silva’s article (‘Bailed out, boxed in’, April 2023), with a heavy heart. His report on the harsh realities endured by my compatriots – abject poverty caused by a government riddled with corruption, the IMF’s bailout and the imposition of crippling loan repayments and the mass exodus of young professionals in search of a better future, filled me with great sadness. That the architects of such economic catastrophe have not been held accountable is just a further example of the failure of the justice system and the corruption which has undermined our government’s institutions for so long.

It can only be hoped that the new anti-corruption bill brings about lasting economic stability heralding a new era in Sri Lankan politics where corruption and malfeasance is the exception rather than the norm.

Samaranayake

Matara, Sri Lanka

China’s gamesmanship

April 2023’s excellent editorial, ‘Geopolitical game plans’, provides a fascinating dissection of the Sino-Russian relationship and reinforces China’s ambitions for global supremacy. As well as showing the dynamics and interests at play, it gives a valuable insight into the delicate balancing act which China needs to perform in relation to the US and Russia – a role which it has carried out with varying degrees of success to date.

How it handles growing tensions with Taiwan going forward will be the litmus test for the strategic and diplomatic skills of this superpower-in-waiting and, with obvious parallels to the conflict in Ukraine, will be a decisive moment in its history.

Name and address supplied

Pragmatism v. idealism

Interesting to read Arshad Yusufzai’s piece on rifts among the Taliban over female education and rights (‘Hope in disunity?’ April issue). While the notion of ‘open-minded Taliban’ might seem like an oxymoron to those of us living in the West, Taliban who oppose the hardline Mullahs must be seen as relatively liberal, and whatever the motivation behind their challenges to the hardliners, ultimately, pragmatism must trump idealism if Afghanistan is to emerge from decades of war and begin the slow road to economic recovery.

Sorcha Williams

Manchester

Not the whole story

In his article (‘Price of peace’, April 2023), Amit Agnihotri writes of the Palestinians’ desperate desire for peace.  While Palestinians do of course crave this most fundamental of human rights, it is by no means the whole story. Surely, the Palestinian people also desire justice – reparations if you will – for the years of illegal occupation and collective punishment which they have endured at the hands of successive Israeli governments. They need, above all else, for the US and other major powers to act decisively and hold Netanyahu and his hard-line, supremacist cabinet to account.

This begs the question: does Israel really want peace with its Palestinian neighbours or are the successive rounds of peace talks merely a smokescreen behind which it can hide the uncomfortable truth that it rather prefers the current impasse? Although Israelis hold differing views on the peace process, the official position of the State of Israel is that peace ought to be negotiated on the basis of a cessation of violence in return for giving up some of the occupied territories. In the 30-plus years since negotiations first started under the watch of the US, there had been no shortage of reasons why each round has failed but the simple truth is that the cost to Israel of making a deal is much higher than the cost of not.  The damage that Israel would incur through the establishment of a Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines would be considerable – at the very least massive demonstrations against Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and over The Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary and violent rebellions by some Jewish settlers and their supporters. 

Perhaps this is the real elephant in the room.

K Al najjar

Amman, Jordan

 

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