2, March, 2024
HomeWorldSri Lanka Joins International Efforts in Red Sea: A Controversial Decision Amid Economic Challenges

Sri Lanka Joins International Efforts in Red Sea: A Controversial Decision Amid Economic Challenges

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Sri Lanka has made a significant decision to participate in the US-led naval operations against Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, aimed at safeguarding commercial shipping vessels navigating through the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

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The region has witnessed targeted attacks by Houthi rebels, prompting the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian by the US and its allies, including France and the UK.

While the date for deploying Sri Lankan ships and the specific patrol area remain undecided, Navy spokesman Capt. Gayan Wickramasuriya confirmed the country’s commitment to join these operations.

The move, however, has faced criticism from opposition lawmakers, including Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, who questioned the allocation of LKR 250 million (USD 777,000) for this military involvement amid the severe economic challenges faced by Sri Lankans.

State Minister of Defense Pramitha Tennakoon defended the decision, emphasizing the government’s commitment to fulfilling its “global responsibilities” and expressing Sri Lanka’s stance against terrorism. Tennakoon clarified that the country would not incur additional costs, as its ships are already patrolling the vast maritime area in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka grapples with its worst economic crisis, declaring bankruptcy in April 2022 with a debt exceeding USD 83 billion, more than half of it to foreign creditors. Despite securing a USD 2.9-billion bailout package from the IMF, the country continues to face economic challenges, leading to public protests and a change in leadership.

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As Sri Lanka navigates these economic hardships, its decision to contribute to international naval operations adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing discourse surrounding the nation’s priorities and global commitments.

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