Leading article: A dirty and undeclared war

Share

It is not only the continuing mayhem in Iraq that is being eclipsed by the month-old war between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon. At any other time, the execution-style killing of 15 aid workers in Sri Lanka would surely have been front-page news. That it was not is testimony to the number and ferocity of the conflicts being played out in these early August days.

The aid workers, all Tamils, were employed by the Paris-based agency, Action Against Hunger. They were shot in the troubled region of Muthur in the north-east of the country, where they had helped survivors of the tsunami and, more recently, victims of the resurgent violence between Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tiger separatists. In the four years since the government and the Tigers signed their ceasefire, this region has increasingly become a new front line.

The most immediate consequence of the killing has been the decision of the agency to suspend its operations in Sri Lanka. AAH can hardly be blamed for doing so. No organisation, however dedicated to its cause, can afford to risk the lives of its workers in this way, when the odds seem so stacked against it. Tragically, of course, it is those who need charitable assistance most who will feel the departure of the agency most keenly.

The second, equally predictable, consequence is the exchange of recriminations that has ensued between the Sri Lankan authorities and the Tamil Tigers, each of whom deny that their forces could have been responsible for the murders. While precedent points strongly to the Tigers, however, the identity of those who committed the barbaric crime probably matters less in the last analysis than what this atrocity says about the security situation in this part of Sri Lanka.

It is now abundantly clear that the fragile ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers is at an end. Even though both sides reaffirmed their respect for the ceasefire as recently as February, the violence has only escalated since. Bombings and fighting proliferated, with the loss of hundreds of lives. Then last month, in a particularly vicious move, the Tigers closed off the water supply to thousands of farmers. Heavy-handed government efforts to restore the water supply precipitated new bouts of fighting.

All this is a far cry from the promises of co-operation that followed the devastation of the tsunami. It is hard to see it as anything other than the prelude to a new civil war that would destroy Sri Lanka's tourist industry and, with it, much of the economy. The hope must be that the killing of the aid workers shocks both sides into retreating from the brink, but today that hope looks slender indeed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam