The Big Risk After Sri Lanka Attacks


Up to 100,000 people died in Sri Lanka’s horrific civil war, which ended in 2009. After the war, Sri Lanka moved haltingly along the path of transitional justice, drawing international support but also criticism. Separately, domestic political battles reached dangerous levels. Last year, a constitutional clash between rival politicians left Sri Lanka with competing prime ministers amid warnings that the country risked plunging back into a bloodbath. The police canceled vacations just in case.

The economy has been performing well since peace returned. Gross domestic product, the poverty rate, and life expectancy have all been moving in the right direction. And yet not long ago, the march toward a stable, peaceful, and prosperous future was threatened by the government's hesitancy in dealing with the past and its reluctance to tackle emerging sectarian tensions.

One of the greatest risks now is that, in its fully justified effort to uproot the organization that carried out these recent attacks, the authorities may further spread the seeds of extremism, giving terrorists precisely what they want. Sri Lanka's peace is fragile.

Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a frequent opinion contributor to CNN and The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author.

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