Thirteen years after the end of a civil war, Sri Lanka is again on the brink of chaos.

Police yesterday opened fire on protestors in the town of Rambukkana. One person has died and 14 others are said to be in critical condition. It is the first use of force and the first fatality after weeks of protest over what is the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948.

It is also another unfolding theater of geopolitical competition as the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reverberate across the globe and reshape our geopolitics.

Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, is now a ghost town. The purchasing power of the country’s burgeoning middle class is all but nonexistent: the Sri Lankan rupee is now the world’s worst-performing currency. One American dollar would fetch 326 rupees.

President Rajapaksa’s government owes international lenders some $51 billion — on which it defaulted last week — with but $1.9 billion in reserves. That is only slightly more than Kim Kardashian’s total net worth.

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