Cablegate: Media Play: Iraq
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000473
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (FOR JWALLER); SA/PD LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY, WREINCKENS;
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: IRAQ
1. Independent English daily wonders whether "war on Iraq
[will] free US from terrorists threat."
Under the headline "Will war on Iraq free US from
terrorists threat?, the ISLAND (opposition English daily,
islandwide circulation) wrote on 3/21:
The question arises whether elimination of the Saddam
Hussein regime will rid America and European nations from
the threat of terrorism. The war in Afghanistan and
driving out the Taleban regime, have not eliminated the Al
Queda and its leader bin Laden. Even US intelligence
agencies such as the CIA and FBI have said openly that
America will not be free of terrorist attacks. Much
progress has been made in the Global War on Terrorism and
President Bush has been receiving a good response to his
appeal from most countries, including many Islamic states.
But it is evident that that he is jeopardising his global
effort on terrorism with this war which has proven to be
2. Government-owned English daily ponders local fallout,
praises government's preparations.
Under the headline "Tiding over emergencies," the DAILY
NEWS (government-owned English daily, islandwide
circulation) wrote on 3/21:
With tensions further intensifying in the Gulf, many a
Lankan heart is going out to the numerous local migrant
workers in the Middle East who would now have to grapple
with a whole host of imponderables. Apparently, not many
Lankans are employed in Iraq itself but a considerable
number of them are employed in Saudi Arabia and other
neighbouring countries which could be expected to be
affected by a war in the Gulf. Their safety should be a
prime concern for the State and for the people of this
Fortunately, the Government has taken cognizance of this
requirement. ... every possible step has been taken to
evacuate some 500,000 Lankan expatriate workers in the
Middle East, to "safe areas" with the help of Lankan
missions in the region....
Besides the provision of these facilities and security
measures, evacuation plans should also be envisaged for
these workers in the event of the war having grave
spillover effects. It would be best for the State to be
prepared for serious humanitarian crises although we hope
fervently that there would be no prolonged suffering for
Food shortages need to be anticipated and the necessary
measures taken to ensure that essential commodities are
stocked and rationed, if necessary. We hope the new
regulations would ensure the fulfilment of these conditions
and provide for the efficient running of local food supply
There is every possibility of unscrupulous traders cashing-
in on situations of this kind to ensure self-enrichment.
Times of hardship invariably turn out to be opportunities
for hoarding and for earning a fast buck by the more
parasitic of businessmen. It is up to the authorities to
guard against such dangers.
3. Independent Sinhala daily says that Saddam's imprudence
in 1990 is being matched by American imprudence today.
Under the headline "Now showing!" DIVAINA (opposition
Sinhala daily) wrote on 3/21:
The hi tech war movie on worldwide TV channels. This is
about a war initiated by a undisciplined and stubborn war-
loving man to manipulate another of the same ilk.
George W. has planned this war for a long time and Saddam
looks happy to receive it.
Using the same bull-in-a-China-shop approached that it
followed in Vietnam decades ago, and in Afghanistan a year
ago, the US is putting the whole world in grave danger....
And Saddam is ready.... For each missile that Bush sends,
Saddam will reply with a missile of smallpox, yellow fever,
etc. We have constantly been aware of this and have often
expressed our views....
We have absolutely no regard for Saddam, who is a bloody
dictator who controls millions of people in Iraq. But if
Bush is using this situation to take control of Iraq's oil
reserves, or to realize some other hidden objective, we
condemn that, too
One must be wise enough to understand the limits of one's
freedom. Saddam didn't show prudence in 1990 when Iraq
invaded Kuwait. George B. isn't showing it today.
4. Independent Sinhala daily suggests "Let's be prepare for
the impact of the war."
Under the headline "Let's be prepared for the impact of
war" LANKADEEPA (independent Sinhala daily) wrote on 3/21:
No one can say how and when the war will be over, but one
thing is clear: billions of people -- in Iraq and other
developing countries -- will face numerous difficulties.
To this the Sri Lankan government should give priority. It
is urgent and vital.
Ministers of Labor and of Consumer affairs have spoken of
migrant workers and consumer items and food and petroleum.
But consistent attention is vital, as almost everything in
our country loses its fizz after some time.
Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans work in the Middle
East. They earn vital foreign exchange for us. If that is
hampered, we will lose the forex and, also, unemployment in
the country will increase significantly....
Who can assure harmony in foreign employment, forex, fuel
prices, food supply? ... a short-term program is urgently
needed; the government should start something ASAP!