Is the bad guy in Sri Lanka a lady?

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THERE comes a time when one senses the approach of a turning point, and catastrophe is but a few ticks of history away.

That moment appears to be fast approaching in Sri Lanka. This small country is in fact as geopolitically significant to the United States and the West as troubled Cyprus and the other flaming sunspots that attract Western political and media attention. But the former Ceylon - a gorgeous tropical island just off the southern coast of India - is on the brink of the political hell-hole again.

WHO is the bad guy in the Sri Lankan impasse? Until recently, Western observers tended to blame the Tamil Tigers, a group that trafficks in the same clandestine arms-acquisition circles as the Al-Qaeda. But now, a more rounded perspective views the viciousness of these rebels as related to the oppression by the ethnic-majority government in Colombo.

Certainly, the recent antics of President Chandrika Kumaratunga give considerable credence to that view. She recently dissolved Parliament to pave the way for unneeded snap elections (four years ahead of schedule) in order, it is suspected, to stack the Cabinet with cronies and coalition allies in her effort to defenestrate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a relative moderate on the Tamil issue. [Read more]