Loading...

The Indo-Sri Lankan Relations at the end of the 1980s': Approaches on India's Involvement in the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict facing the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord (29. July 1987)

by Oshrat Becker (Author)

Seminar Paper 2006 36 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: South Asia

Excerpt

INDEX

0. Introduction

1. The historical background of the conflict and India's Involvement

2. The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord (29. July 1987)

3. Regional Power and Small State Theories according to Benjamin Miller
3.1. Theory 1: Factors influencing the attitude of Great Power towards Small States
3.2. Application of Theory 1: Factors influencing the attitude of great powers towards Small States
3.2.1. Relative capabilities in the South Asian region at the end of the 1980s
3.2.2. Great power interests the South Asian region at the end of the 1980s
3.2.2.1. The Indian doctrine of regional security
3.2.2.2. Refugees and ethnic or religious minorities
3.2.2.3. Foreign disinterest in the region
3.3. Theory 2: Patters of regional conflict according to the capabilities and interests of the great powers
3.4. Application of Theory 2: Patters of regional conflict according to the capabilities and interests of the great powers

4. The Two Level Games Theory by Robert Putnam
4.1. Implication of the Two Level Games theory on India
4.1.1. India’s domestic game
4.1.2. International pressure on India
4.2. Implication of the Two Level Games theory on Sri Lanka
4.2.1. Sri Lanka’s domestic game
4.2.2. International pressure on Sri Lanka

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

7. Addendum
7.1. Important points of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord

0. Introduction

In this work the Sri Lankan civil conflict and the Indian involvement at the end of the 1980s is examined by two different theoretical approaches that may fit the case and help describe patterns and actions of both sides. On the one hand two similar theories about regional power and small state behaviour in the face of a civil conflict in the small state by Benjamin Miller are taken out of their original context[1] and applied to the case of Sri Lanka. In constituting India as the regional power and Sri Lanka as the small state in these scenarios, it can be examined whether this case can be seen as in accordance with Miller’s theories in the main points, and maybe even help to understand the processes around the Indo-Sri Lankan accord better. India will be checked according to its capabilities and interests in the region, which will show, if India’s peace keeping role was actually motivated mainly by a regional hegemonic ambition? And the question will be raised, if Sri Lanka accepted the accord out of its own will, or due to Indian dominace?

The second theoretical approach is the Two Level Games Theory by Robert Putnam. The Sri Lankan case actually seems to give a very fitting example for the main claims of this theory. Thus the work will look into the questions, if in both countries, India and Sri Lanka, a domestic position was present that supported an agreement like the Indo-Sri Lankan accord, but only through the combination of this inner motivations and outer pressures, made the signing of the accord - against all objectors - come reality? And further, how important were domestic factors in the signing of the accord?

The main part of the work will take the first theory, since it asks for plenty material and is also the first place to introduce the most facts and political sequences around the conflict that are not repeated afterwards, since the place for this work – which could and actually should go much deeper into the details and windings of the theories and the subject – is very limited. Thus the theories are only presented in a short overview and shortened were it was possible,[2] to still save a frame of the theory that is understandable and makes working possible. Also many facts, views and materials are only portrayed in outlines, and many illuminating quotes and anecdotes had to be let out (but can be checked), to keep the work in its frame and make the reading fluent.

1. The historical background of the conflict and India's Involvement

Since more than 1000 years Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was inhabited by mainly two different peoples – Sinhalese and Tamil, while the Sinhalese are usually considered as the earlier migrants.[3] Next to several dominant Sinhalese kingdoms, there also existed a Tamil kingdom in northern and eastern parts of the island from the 13th to the early 17th century that was then united with the southern part of India (Tamil Nadu).[4] Until today the main population concentration of Tamils is found in Tamil Nadu (today an Indian federal state) and in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The Tamils are the largest minority (3 million or ca. 18% of the Sri Lankan population)[5] in the mainly Sinhalese island republic.

After a colorful ancient history Portugese sailors arrived in Sri Lanka in the 16th century[6], Dutch sailors arrived in the 17th century and established posts and colonial rule mainly in the coastal areas.[7] Only the British that took over the colonial rule at the beginning of the 19th century, conquered the remaining Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy in the central hill lands and established a full colonial administration and Sri Lanka became a crown colony,[8] but however was never part of the British Colonial Indian Raj (Empire) that encompassed nearly all of South Asia.[9] After its independence in 1947 India gets involved in several inner and outer conflicts and wars in South Asia that are often started by sectarian or ethnic violence.[10] In the Cold War India tries to stay neutral, although it gets closer to the UDSSR than to the USA.[11] Sri Lanka – at first also neutral – on search for allies, tried to get closer mainly to the USA.[12]

After initial Tamil independence movements in India,[13] Tamils in Sri Lanka started to seek more independence in the 1950s,[14] even more after the Sri Lankan ‘Sinhala only Act’[15] in 1956. In 1976 the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) party coalition were the first to call for an independent Tamil state called “Tamil Eelam”.[16] In the aftermath, groups of Tamils became violent and shifted to terror (including suicide bombings).[17] In 1983 there were Sinhalese pogroms with thousands dead[18] and ten-thousands of Tamil refugees to Tamil Nadu.[19] Civil war broke out and many different terror organisations arose;[20] one of them is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that is today the most notorious of the Tamil terror groups.[21]

Even before 1983 the Tamil terror groups seem to have used safe havens and bases in Indian Tamil Nadu and received assistance from the Indian security service “Research and Analysis Wing” (RAW)[22].[23] Different peace initiatives and peace talks are held at the beginning to the middle of the 1980s, until they finally fail,[24] followed by a big and relatively successful military government offensive in 1987[25] that leads to around 150,000 refugees arriving to Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka[26] and to a retreat of Tamil militants with many besieged in their quasi capital Jaffna on the Jaffna Peninsula.[27]

In this situation, India intervenes with a humanitarian Air supply operation on Jaffna on June 4th and 5th 1987[28] and quite suddenly[29] on July 28th 1987 India and Sri Lanka sign the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord on July 29, 1987 in Sri Lanka that should solve the conflict and gives India a hegemonic[30] status against Sri Lanka. India sends the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka for implementation of the accord (to protect the Tamils and disarm the Tamil militants)[31] and finally gets into armed conflict with the LTTE itself.[32] In March 1991 India pulls out from Sri Lanka after thousands of casualties[33] on request of the Sri Lankan government. On May 21, 1991 a female Tamil suicide bomber – widely believed to be an associate of the LTTE – killed the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi.[34] In the following decades India had no further important role in the ethnic conflict and chose to stand more or less at the side.[35]

2. Important points of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord

The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord was signed on 29th July 1987 by Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India and Junius Richard Jayawardene, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The main points of the accord can be found at the addendum.[36][37]

3. Regional Power and Small State Theory according to Benjamin Miller

As a theoretical background for a ‘regional power – small state’ scenario, I will base part of this work on theoretical views developed by Bejamin Miller. I will especially focus on two of his articles: “Great Powers and Regional Peacemaking: Patterns in the Middle East and Beyond[38] (theory 1) and “The Great Powers and Regional Conflicts: Eastern Europe and the Balkans from the Post-Napoleonic Era to the Post-Cold War Era[39] (theory 2). As can be noticed, both articles are referring to different regions of conflict and in both cases do not discuss the conflict in Sri Lanka or are referring to India, which are the subjects of this work. However before discussing the particular conflicts, Miller gives a theoretical frame work, which I found quite helpful while dealing with the Sri Lankan civil conflict and the Indian role in it. Both theories by Miller are focusing on slightly different points, but both include relevant approaches that will afterwards be applied to the Indian - Sri Lankan case.

3.1. Theory 1: Factors influencing the attitude of Great Power towards Small States

The article about ‘theory 1’ deals mainly with the factors that determine the approach of a great power towards a small state in the process of a regional conflict, in case that the great power seeks some kind of resolution to the conflict. These factors – so goes the argument – are mainly domestic and can to certain degree predict the kind of action taken by the great power in the peace-making role.

First, there is a differentiation, if the great power seeks to cooperate with other great powers or attempts to pacify the region on its own.[40] Secondly there are two different possible attitudes of the great power towards the small state: If the great power strives to intervene in a conflict in acceptance and coordination with the local actors and when the contact of the great power with the small state is overall based on diplomacy, persuasion and negotiations, then this attitude is called “accommodative”.[41] But if the attitude is termed “coercive”, the great power imposes a regional order on the small state, thus dictates an alleged solution possibly against the will of the small state.[42]

Miller stresses that while systems theory relies more on the number of great powers and hegemonic theories would put the emphasis on asymmetries of power among the great powers, Miller suggests a more differentiated, interwoven approach, while taking into account the relative capabilities (unilateral – multilateral approach) and also the kind of attitude (accommodative – coercive) towards the small state, which he sees conditioned by the kind of domestic regimes (democracy or authoritarian regime).[43] Miller describes the behaviour of a great power with superiority in the region of conflict as hegemonic and with a strong will to an unilateral approach.[44]

Miller names the gains of a great power’s unilateral intervention as “growing political influence and a secure position in a stabilizing region, greater economic advantages (access to raw materials and markets), and enhanced international prestige.[45]

While smaller states would always hope for an accommodative attitude, and in this expectation even approach a great power for conflict mediation, since they hope that its power would allow the great power to influence all actors effectively and use its vast resources to provide side payments and incentives.[46] However – according to Miller - a great power acts more coercive or more accommodative according to two domestic factors: the dominant ideology and the domestic political structure.[47] Miller claims that “liberal democracies will prefer an accommodative approach, while authoritarian states will tend to a coercive strategy”.[48]

It is even more likely that a democratic great power would take an accommodative attitude towards the small state, when the small state itself is a democracy, because “… democratic states regards each other’s government as a manifestation of ‘the will of its people’, and thus as more legitimate than nondemocratic regimes.[49]

In, contrast authoritarian regimes will more likely impose their own inner mode of policy - that is force and the rule of the mighty - also on the small states and when negotiating with other great powers, they will prefer secret negotiations, excluding the small states and deciding about their fate in their absence.[50]

There is also another factor influencing a coercion of accommodative approach, coming from the type of government: Liberal democracies, which have a fragmented and pluralistic structure of government and society, are easier to be influenced by interest groups than authoritarian regimes, which are to the opposite quite immune against these groups or can sometimes even be in complete negation even to major domestic influence groups.

Thus, also in this case, its liberal democratic structure leads democracies even more to an accommodative approach, since it would be relatively easier for ethnic, religious, or cultural transnational linkage groups to lobby in favour of a small state to influence the government and policy of the great power, than it would be in case of an authoritarian great power, where such linkage groups do not have much affect. Respectively, it will be more difficult for small states to reach an accommodative approach by a democratic great power, if they do not have such linkage groups.[51] Interestingly, Miller provides also a potential limitation for the accommodative approach of democracies and notes the possibility of a democracy adopting a coercive approach is given, for example in case of “perceived threats to important interests.[52]

From the factors concerning the relative power and the domestic regime of great power, Miller derives four possible scenarios:[53]

1) In case the great power has superior capabilities and is a pluralist democracy, it is most likely that it would approach the small state(s) in an unilateral accommodative manner.
2) If the great power is an authoritarian state with superior capabilities it would most likely act unilateral coercive.
3) If the great power would be relatively inferior and a pluralist democracy it would probably choose a multilateral approach.
4) And an authoritarian inferior greater power would seemingly follow a multilateral coercive strategy.

This theoretic approach is here sufficient for the following application to the case of this work. Just one relevant point from Miller’s case study for this theory – the Middle East conflict and the influences of the US, the USSR and the West-European states – should be mentioned: Miller describes the role of the US during the Cold War in Middle East as according to the superior democratic great power that seeks an unilateral accommodative approach and shows to what extent all factors he mentioned in the theoretical part, are indeed appearing in the relationship between the great power US and the small state Israel. According to the theory, since Israel, too, is a democracy and there is an influential transnational linkage group in the US that lobbies for Israel,[54] a quite accommodative approach by the US towards Israel should be expected. This is indeed the case, with the exception of the first Gulf War, where Miller describes a quite coercive attitude.[55] This generally unexpected behaviour could be explained by what Miller calls the “perceived threats to important interests”.[56] Here would be the task to figure out the ‘degree’ of importance that can lead to such a behaviour. But I will claim that another point may have to be present that would allow the democratic great power to coerce the democratic small power: The great power, while violating the interests of the small state in a certain point – namely setting it out to anticipated security dangers - , must at the same time insure the small state to protect it from this possible threat with its own (bigger) power.

3.2. Application of Theory 1: Factors influencing the attitude of great powers towards small states

When implementing the theoretical schemes from Miller’s article “Great Powers and Regional Peacemaking: Patterns in the Middle East and Beyond” to the case of the Sri Lankan civil conflict and the Indo-Sri Lankan accord, one has at first to decide which mainly relative capabilities (unilateral or multilateral) of the great power side can be found in this conflict and on the other hand, what kind of domestic regimes are involved and which kind of attitude India conducts towards Sri Lanka. One should note that India held quite different roles throughout the late 1980s (it was covert supporter, mediator and active participant)[57] in the Sri Lankan civil conflict, which makes it not always easy to give a definition of India’s actions according to the theories.

3.2.1. Relative capabilities in the South Asian region at the end of the 1980s

The obviously less controversial part of this analysis is the question of the relative capabilities involved on the side of the great powers: India, taking the role of the great power in this study, is by far greater and more powerful than Sri Lanka[58] and can be marked as the great power with the superior capabilities in the South Asia region. Internationally India had at the late 1980s the fourth largest army in the world[59] and thus in its own region has by far the greater military capabilities, only topped by China in the greater Asian region. Lloyd I. and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph write already in 1987 about the strong asymmetric position of India in the South Asian region compared to other regions in the world.[60]

[...]


[1] Originally discussing conflict patters in the Middle East and the Blakans.

[2] Thus for example it will not be possible to enter into an analysis about the sizes of the ‘ Win Sets ’ (Putnam) of both countries before the singing of the accord.

[3] Muni: Pangs of Proximity: India and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis, 1993, 40-41pp.

[4] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 5pp.

[5] According to “The official Website of the Government of Sri Lanka” http://www.priu.gov.lk/TourCountry/Indextc.html and: Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 148pp.

[6] In 1505, see: Singer: “Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese Ethnic Conflict – Alternative Solutions”, 1992, 712pp.

[7] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 5pp.

[8] According to “The official Website of the Government of Sri Lanka”: http://www.priu.gov.lk/TourCountry/history.htm

[9] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 16-17pp.

[10] Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, Chapter eight (229-244pp.) and De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 66pp.; See also: Rupesinghe: “Ethnic Conflicts in South Asia: The Case of Sri Lanka and the Indian Peace-keeping Force (IPKF)”, 1998, 337pp.

[11] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 22-24pp. and 57-60pp. and: Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 66pp.

[12] Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 70-71pp.; Especially under the Jayewardene government: ibid. 33pp. For US - Sri Lankan relations see ibid. 78-80pp.

[13] Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 239pp.

[14] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 82pp.

[15] Making Sinhala the only official language. See Singer: “Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese Ethnic Conflict – Alternative Solutions”, 1992, 713pp. and Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 18-19pp.

[16] Muni: Pangs of Proximity: India and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis, Oslo 1993, 43pp. and Rupesinghe: “Ethnic Conflicts in South Asia: The Case of Sri Lanka and the Indian Peace-keeping Force (IPKF)”, 1998, 345pp. and Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 89pp.

[17] Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 90-91pp.

[18] Singer: “Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese Ethnic Conflict – Alternative Solutions”, 1992, 713pp.

[19] Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 32pp.

[20] Rupesinghe: “Ethnic Conflicts in South Asia: The Case of Sri Lanka and the Indian Peace-keeping Force (IPKF)”, 1998, 345pp.

[21] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 185pp. and Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 32pp. 91pp.

[22] India’s Secret Agency

[23] Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 148-149pp. and for a detailed description of RAW and Indian support and training see: Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 93-98pp.

[24] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 222-224pp.

[25] Hennayake: “The Peace Accord and the Tamils in Sri Lanka”, 1989, 407pp.

[26] Mehta: “Rajiv Gandhi and Rama’s Kingdom”, 1994, 151pp. and Muni: Pangs of Proximity: India and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis, 1993, 63pp.

[27] At this point the most Rebel fighters were in this area and the Sri Lankan army was holding a position of strength – maybe was even close to a ‘military solution’ – see for example Hennayake, who talks of an “upper hand”: Hennayake: “The Peace Accord and the Tamils in Sri Lanka”, 1989, 407pp.

[28] After a humanitarian sea supply operation was blocked by Sri Lanka on June 3th: Thakur: “The Politics and Economics of India’s Foreign Policy”, 1994, 186pp. and Cohen: “India – Emerging Power”, 2001, 149pp.

[29] Since the negotiations were mainly kept secret, and there had been so many failed peace talks in the past that for many it came as a surprise: Bullion: “India, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 103pp. and 110-112pp. and De Silva writes that those hearing of new talks after the foot drop would “not take them too seriously.” De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 224pp.

[30] Bose: “States, Nations, Sovereignty – Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement”, 1994, 146pp. and Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 104pp.; For a good summary on India’s ‘hegemonic’ gains see Muni: “Pangs of Proximity – India and Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Crisis”, 1993, 14-15pp.

[31] Singer: “Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese Ethnic Conflict – Alternative Solutions”, 1992, 716pp.

[32] De Silva: Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90, 1995, 247-248pp.

[33] Singer: “Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese Ethnic Conflict – Alternative Solutions”, 1992, 716pp.

[34] Mehta: “Rajiv Gandhi and Rama’s Kingdom”, 1994, 151pp. and Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 115pp.; See also: Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 93pp.

[35] Cohn: India – Emerging Power, 2001, 239pp. and 266pp.

[36] The complete wording of the accord, the annexure and the ‘Exchange of Letters’ can be found at Bullion: “India , Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis 1976-1994 – An International Perspective”, 1995, 173-185pp.

[37] See 8.1.

[38] Miller: “Great Powers and Regional Peacemaking: Patterns in the Middle East and Beyond”, 1997

[39] Miller / Kagan: “The Great Powers and Regional Conflicts: Eastern Europe and the Balkans from the Post-Napoleonic Era to the Post-Cold War Era”, 1997, 51-85pp.

[40] Miller: “Great Powers and Regional Peacemaking: Patterns in the Middle East and Beyond”, 107pp.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid. 108pp.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid. 109pp.

[46] Ibid 108pp.

[47] Ibid. 109pp.

[48] Ibid. 109-110pp.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid. 107pp.

[51] Ibid. 112pp.

[52] Ibid. 111pp.

[53] Ibid. 113pp.

[54] Ibid. 128pp.

[55] Ibid. 129pp.: “The Gulf War has also shown the limitations that the US can pose, under certain crisis condition, to the freedom of military action of Israel as was manifested in the deployment of US Patriot missile batteries in Israel as a substitute (in addition to US-led coalition air raids on the Iraqi army) to an Israeli military response to the Iraqi Scud missile attacks.

[56] Ibid. 111pp.

[57] De Silva: “Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90”, 1995, 6pp.

[58] For India’s relatively hugeness against Sri Lanka see De Silva: “Regional Powers and Small State Security – India and Sri Lanka, 1977-90”, 1995, 1pp. and 9pp.

[59] Bose: “States, Nations, Sovereignty – Sri Lanka, India and the Tamil Eelam Movement”, 1994, 133pp.

[60] Rudoplh: “In Pursuit of Lakshmi: The Political Economy of the Indian State, 1987, 4pp.

Details

Pages
36
Year
2006
ISBN (eBook)
9783638586832
ISBN (Book)
9783638672573
File size
776 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v68080
Institution / College
erg International School - Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel – The Social Science Faculty - The Department of International Relations
Grade
1,0
Tags
Indo-Sri Lankan Relations Approaches India Involvement Ethnic Conflict Accord July East Asia International System Sri Lanka Ceylon Taml

Author

  • Oshrat Becker (Author)

Share

Previous

Title: The Indo-Sri Lankan Relations at the end of the 1980s': Approaches on India's Involvement in the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict facing the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord (29. July 1987)