PMD: President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a speech at the dinner hosted by the Geopolitical Cartographer, an international research foundation specializing in the Indian Ocean, under the theme ‘Emerging New Order in the Indian Ocean Region’ at the Colombo City Center yesterday (13), addressing the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel. In his speech, he emphasized the importance of the current situation and its potential impact on the global order.
President Wickremesinghe began by discussing how the conflict had unfolded, with Hamas attacking Israel, and the world’s initial sympathies with Israel, including Sri Lanka, which traditionally supported Palestine. He highlighted the recent developments, including Israel’s call for over a million people in Gaza to move to the south, drawing condemnation from various countries and organizations.
“There were those who felt, probably in most of the Middle East, other Muslim countries, that Israel should be condemned. And others said, no, Israel has suffered, let’s see what this means. The bombing is over now. In the meantime, Secretary of State Blinken went in there.
America has announced its stand. Now we find that Israel has announced over a million people in Gaza from North Gaza have to move to the South. Now this in turn has drawn condemnations not only from the UN, from the African countries and even from some of the European countries.”
The President speculated about the motivations behind Israel’s actions, suggesting that the bombing of Gaza aimed to eliminate tunnels where Hamas was hiding. He pondered the potential consequences if Israel found that Hamas had been responsible for a massacre, leading to an even greater crisis.
“So what happens next? If the people of Gaza have been asked to move out, it means Israel will move in. Why had the people of Gaza been moved out? Why was Gaza bombed? I mean it was done with a purpose. I don’t think Israel just went on a rampage. They thought that bombing Gaza, the buildings, and bringing them down was the first stage of cleaning out the tunnels in which Hamas was hiding. So if they go in and find Hamas and they fight, is one issue. What happens if they go in and find that the Hamas do this? It’s brutal murder. I mean it’s a massacre, it’s something more than that.”
President Wickremesinghe expressed concerns about the global geopolitical implications of the conflict, particularly the challenges for the United States in managing multiple international issues simultaneously. He questioned whether the US could handle crises in Ukraine, Taiwan, and the Middle East concurrently. He also noted the changing power dynamics and alliances, suggesting that the world was transitioning from a unipolar or bipolar order to a more complex multipolar system.
“Can the US manage Ukraine, Taiwan and the Middle East, Gaza? I don’t think. If you are going to have two aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean, that’s serious. Can you manage it? It’s going to be difficult because many issues are going rise.”
The President stressed the need for dialogue and cooperation among nations to address these challenges. He cited the strained relationships among global powers and emphasized that the international community must work together to maintain a stable geopolitical system. He expressed hope that extreme reactions from different parts of the world should not dominate the discourse and that alternative solutions should be explored, including the possibility of a four-state solution involving Israel, Palestine, Gaza, and Lebanon.
“It’s not that I support Hamas or Hezbollah, I don’t. But we must see where it goes from here. I do not think Israel and the US can get together. What we have is Israel functioning independently, Gaza that is destroyed and you have Palestine that is half functioning, and Lebanon that is also half functioning. If you are going for a solution, it has to be four states in it. Not two. You also have to think of Syria. So going along the old route we won’t find solutions, we have to think anew.”
In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe urged a fresh approach to solving the conflict, emphasizing that the old ways of addressing the situation may not yield the necessary solutions.