Monday, March 31, 2008
THE ' MATERIAL GIRL' WANTS TO BRING A MESSAGE OF PEACE TO SRI LANKA
Grammy award winning singer and songwriter Madonna is to visit Sri Lanka next month for a peace concert and is also likely to visit the Wanni for what has been billed as a first of its kind meeting between the top international singer and the LTTE, organizers said.
The ‘Concert for Peace’ scheduled for May 17 in Colombo will also see several local artistes take the stage with the organizers assuring an unforgettable experience complete with a 120 piece backup band, laser lights and a fireworks display.Tickets are scheduled to go on sale from mid April and the Daily Mirror is the official print media sponsor for the gig. As part of the goodwill visit Madonna is due to visit Killinochchi and meet the LTTE leadership with a message of hope for peace in the near future.
“We have been given clearance to visit the Wanni with Madonna on humanitarian grounds,” the organizers said adding that more details of the concert and ticket prices would be made public soon.
Madonna's latest single "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake just recently entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 68, which the magazine reports is the 53rd time in her career she's appeared on that particular tally. [Source; Daily Mirror]
Sri Lanka’s phoney peace is over. By abrogating the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Sri Lankan government has finally proclaimed what has been a reality for two years – the effective end of the ceasefire brokered by the Norwegians six years ago.
The Sinhala-dominated government and the Tamil Tigers have decided that war is not only inevitable but also required, before any fresh political process can emerge. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised to eradicate terrorism. His brother, Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse has promised to kill Velupillai Prabakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers. Scenting victory, the Sri Lankan military is pressing in on the Tiger heartland of the north on several fronts, while targeting Tiger leaders for assassination.
Meanwhile, the LTTE leader has proclaimed that only military force will work to change the government’s policy. He has directed attacks against hard military targets such as Air Force bases and soft political targets like ministers and civil guardsmen. The Tamil Tigers are using a combination of hit and run attacks, bombings and assassinations to deter and delay the government’s impending assault.
The Sri Lankan government has newly acquired armaments – multi-barrel rocket launchers, heavier artillery, precision guided missiles, and bunker busters – and has recruited 30,000 new recruits into its armed forces. The Tamil Tigers have developed an air wing, an effective sea wing, and have heavily infiltrated population centres in the Sinhala-dominated South. This next round of violence will lead to the deaths of thousands, the displacement of hundreds of thousands, and the destruction of property on a larger scale than what we have ever witnessed before in Sri Lanka.
The LTTE can emerge defeated, weakened, or emboldened from this fighting. The Tigers will be defeated if the government succeeds in ejecting them from territory they control and in eliminating their leadership. They will be weakened if the government ejects the Tigers from territory they control but they can still continue as an insurgent organisation capable of guerrilla operations and terrorist attacks. The LTTE will be emboldened, of course, if it succeeds in bringing the government offensive to a standstill. While these three scenarios are very different, the role that friends of Sri Lanka, in the region and outside, can play in helping to move the country towards a stable peace is the same in all of them.
The first scenario is the government deals a decisive blow to LTTE – ejecting it from territory it controls and eliminating its leadership. The hope, in this scenario, is that a Sri Lanka liberated from war will find the will to seek peace. Sinhala hardliners fearful of Tamil autonomy in LTTE hands will be less opposed to granting it after a Tiger defeat. Tamil hardliners seeking a separate state will stop doing so. This will create the opportunity for a new politics of co-existence among all communities on the island. But the fear is that military victory may instead embolden Sinhala hardliners to reject any concession to the minorities – Tamil and Muslim – compelling them to live at the sufferance of the majority. War will give way, not to peace and reconciliation, but to bitterness and recrimination. Sri Lanka may not have war but neither will it have a just peace.
The second scenario points to a weakened, though not defeated, LTTE. It is ejected from territory it controls, but continues as a formidable insurgent organisation capable of guerrilla operations and terrorist attacks. The hope here is that both parties will declare victory and call a truce. The government will view further efforts at defeating the LTTE as too costly, and the Tigers will accept that they cannot get what they want by military means alone. Each will give up on its preferred political objective. The government will give up on centralising all power in Colombo and the LTTE will give up on the establishment of a separate state. The result will be the classic federal compromise that most people see as the only reasonable solution. The fear is that neither party will have the political sagacity to stop at a partial victory or defeat. Rather the Sri Lankan government will press on in the hope of eliminating the LTTE permanently. And the Tamil Tigers will refuse to accept a new balance of power where they do not control territory and administer populations. Each side will seek to continue the war. Neither will prevail.
The final scenario is a bloody stalemate – where the government fails to eject the LTTE and the Tamil Tigers fail to make military headway themselves. The government will unleash all it has, but will not dislodge the LTTE from territory it controls. The Tamil Tigers will hold firm but they will not be able to expand their hold on territory or population. The result will be a stalemate, but after spilling a lot of blood. The hope is that after much cost to the people of the country the government and the Tamil Tigers will have relearned the lesson that war alone will not alter the political dynamic of the country. They will initiate a political process that will keep the strengths and redress the weaknesses of the previous one. This process, with a combination of internal acceptance and external support, will get somewhere. The fear in this scenario is that a combination of Sinhala extremism and political rivalry in the South and Tamil extremism and militarism in the North will prevent the parties from seizing the opportunity to move forward toward a fresh process. Instead, they will continue seeking military breakthroughs only to be further mired in a bloodier stalemate.
While these three scenarios are distinct, the role friends of Sri Lanka, in the region and outside, can play in helping to move the country towards the more hopeful scenarios, and away from the fearful ones, is the same.
The Sri Lankan government as a responsible state in the international system has some basic obligations even while fighting an insurgency. These include upholding the human rights of all its citizens, irrespective of their ethnic affiliation; respecting the laws of war; providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, including refugees; and ensuring access to humanitarian organisations, local and international, seeking to assist those affected by the armed violence. Sri Lanka’s friends can help it fulfil these responsibilities.
At the same time, the world can also impress upon the Tamil Tigers that while they are no state, they must still respect the laws of war as an armed group engaged in a conflict. These include, but are not limited to, refraining from deliberately targetig civilians, ensuring humanitarian access to those affected by war, and refraining from recruiting children. They must emphasise that the future role of the Tamil Tigers as serious political interlocutors in a peace settlement will depend on how they conduct themselves during war.
Sri Lanka’s friends can also prod the two parties to lay out their respective visions of a political settlement without evading it. These must not be the reiteration of tired old positions by both sides – where the LTTE repeats its call for an interim administration that only it controls, and the Sri Lankan government reiterates its commitment to a unitary state that only it controls.
Rather it must be an imaginative effort to describe both an end goal – where they would like to see the country end up - and a pathway for getting there – how they would like to set about achieving it. This will invariably involve a permanent political settlement, an interim structure for getting there, a process for disarmament on the part of the LTTE and demilitarisation on the part of the state, and finally, a mechanism for post-war reconstruction that can rebuild the shattered lives of all communities.
Finally, the world can also help amplify Sri Lankan voices that support a solution that respects the concerns of all communities equally within an undivided country. These include the Muslims, the upcountry Tamils, and the left-liberal political actors, whose significant presence has been ignored, precisely because they have not been obstacles to peace.
While none of these steps are easy, they are also not impossible. But the window of opportunity for initiating them will be very brief, immediately after the next round of fighting ends, and just before both parties forget about the bloody futility of war.
While the belligerents make war, those who are seeking peace in Sri Lanka from within and those who wish to help from without must begin their plans for making peace. The people of Sri Lanka deserve another chance.
(Ram Manikkalingam is a Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. He served as Senior Advisor in the peace process to President Kumaratunga)
TAMIL TIGER TERROR PROPAGANDISTS ARE NOT MEDIA
Paris, 01 April, (Asiantribune.com): UNESCO has accepted that not a single journalist had been killed in Sri Lanka in 2007. UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura’s report for 2007 listed names of 53 journalists killed in number countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia DPR Congo, Palestine and Myanmar.
There had been no killings of journalist in Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Russia, Colombia, Ecuador, Lebanon and Pakistan, where there had been killings of journalists in the previous year. The Director General of UNESCO stated this in his report submitted to the Intergovernmental Committee of the International Programme for Development of Communications held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from March 26 to 28. Sugeeswara Senadhira, Minister Counsellor of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Paris represented Sri Lanka at this meeting.
Analysts pointed out that UNESCO Director General’s report is an admittance that the Voice of Tigers, the broadcasting arm of the LTTE could not be considered as a civil media institution. In November 2007, three LTTE cadres working at the Voice of Tigers died when the clandestine broadcasting station was attacked by Sri Lanka Air Force. In December 2007, Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO has issued a statement on the incident and the Government of Sri Lanka pointed out that UNESCO had no mandate to issue a statement on the aerial attack on a terrorist broadcasting station.The Intergovernmental Council of IPDC unanimously denounced attacks targeting journalists and urged Member States to comply with relevant obligations under international law to end impunity for such crimes.
More on this on Asian Tribune ...http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/10309
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Ol' Nadu is a funny-fart and such a loser that even other covert LTTE supporters in seats of political power in T'Nadu kick his ass and throw him in the cage whenever he throws a fit, trying to get a piece of the political limelight. I guess they are embarassed by being associated to the ass hole, rather than feel threatened by him as a political challenger.
Even the LTTE, if it had a choice, would not care for someone like Nadu to be making noises for their cause. When withered farts are needed to carry the flag, the cause is truly lost and that tells the fading story of the Tigers.
The Brits have no sense of humor..!!!
"..LTTE Terrorist Campaigner and President of the World Tamil Movement Pala Nedumaran's visa to enter into the United Kingdom have been rejected by the UK Home Office..." says the Asian Tribune.
Sun, 2008-03-30 04:11
In replying to Mr. Paul Williams, Ex-MP Netherlands, Asia Tribune, reader Ira de Silva writes
"The Sri Lankan government ended the ceasefire in January 2008; the LTTE had ended it in 2006 with the statement from its leader. The government merely gave notice that it was formally ending it because there was no ceasefire to maintain which is a fact that all those in the so-called international community had recognized, even the Norwegian facilitators. Paul Williams got his facts wrong.”
The title... 'Ex-MP'.. tells the story.
It is obviously yet another vaguely sad saga of a once successful somebody falling into oblivion of becoming an 'ex-' somebody and fading away from the limelight and recognition.
Understandably it is hard for most. Harder for some than others. And for some who take it too hard, any opportunity to get back on center stage is a last chance to shine, and feel like the olden days. And a loser's cause in a third world country is often that opportunity for the politician.
Lesser people get a young mistress.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
While the transfers and on-going changes which include inducting some STF personnel into different areas such as Amparai District and filling the vaccuum created by their moving out in Batticaloa with regular army troops is a part of military necessity, withered political whiners of the UNP seem to be attempting to create a cosnpiracy out of the situation for obvious reasons. These goons seem to have fallen under the LTTE's spell to such an extent that they appear to think that their lies and concocted stories can be spewed out without any consequences.
What they don't seem to realize is that the possible consequence is of the greatest importance; the people of Sri Lanka continue to lose faith and hope by starting to realize that the UNP has become a mouth piece and proxy for the terrorist LTTE.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
More information is awaited on those developments.
Monday, March 24, 2008
As a college student in Chennai, the sudden influx of Lankan Tamils into the college was not really commented upon -- after all, they look the same, dress the same, even if their Tamil is a little singsong -- till the pogrom by the Lankan army hit the headlines. Those were the days, my friend, when Tamil Nadu rose as one man. In the vanguard of any such uprising, peaceful or otherwise, has to be the student ranks, and we did our mite. Took out rallies, held black-badge demonstrations, shouted slogans till our throats ran dry. Our hearts, as was the entire state's, was with the people of Yazhpaanam, called rather oddly Jaffna in English. If Eelam became our Palestine, Jaffna was our Wailing Wall.
Tamil pride, which does not need any kindling to flare up and which is a combustible product, was burning bright. The refugees who fled the atrocities back home were feted as they landed in Rameswaram. Tamil Nadu was the land of their ancestors, which they had left behind, and this was homecoming for at least a part of the Tamil diaspora.
The not-too-wealthy state opened its heart and treasury for its compatriots. Given the strength of Tamil sentiment, the Centre could not but step in, furtively at first through training camps for wannabe soldiers and more actively later. It is a different matter that these men and women, boys and girls, were to give the very same Indian Army that trained them a bloody nose later, but the consequences of living by the sword were not realised by a prime minister who specialised in living on the razor's edge. She had, of course, become a veteran at playing with fire, be it in Punjab or in Eelam. The former claimed her, and the latter her only surviving son.
Fade-out 1983. Fade-in 2000.
Eelam is once again in the air, and Jaffna the epicentre. Gone, however, is the public empathy. Tamils are still fighting Sinhalese, and blood is still being spilled in the jungles of Venni and elsewhere in Sri Lanka. Fifteen years is all it has taken for Tamil Nadu to realise that a neighbour's war cannot become one's own. Late realisation, Sonia Gandhi would be justified in saying, but then Tamils are not known for thinking with their heads when it comes to things Tamil.
In the meantime, plenty of water has flowed into the Palk Straits. A domineering prime minister seeking a global role dabbled in waters too deep for a political novice and paid the price with his life. The southern state, once a haven of peace, fell victim to the gun culture as those who came as refugees and state guests abused their hospitality and carried their internecine warfare into Tamil Nadu. May 1991 changed all that.
One politician was against all that happened. You may revile her as corrupt, you can accuse her of having misused her official position, the courts in fact will rule on her having amassed wealth as chief minister. But Jayalalitha had the guts, and foresight, to oppose the Tamil Tigers at a time when they were seen as the saviours of Tamil culture and pride. May 1991 proved to the people of Tamil Nadu how right she was, and how wrong they were. Which explains how indifferent Tamil Nadu was to the fall of Jaffna in 1995. And hardly ebullient about the Tigers' chances of reclaiming the city now.
The political establishment has seen the writing on the wall. Thus we have M Karunanidhi backing the Indian government's attempts not to meddle in troubled waters. And even V Gopalaswamy, whose heart bleeds for the LTTE, is surprisingly moderate.
For the Indian government, notably its head the prime minister, the temptation to interfere in what is strictly not your business must be overpowering. This is the same urge that brought the invincible Americans to their knees in the jungles of Vietnam; the same impulse that made Rajiv Gandhi sacrifice Indian lives in Jaffna. But Vajpayee, a seasoned politician who has had the privilege of watching any number of prime ministers bungle and stumble from his vantage point on the Opposition benches, will not play ball. Expatriate Tamils may still be aroused by what is happening in north-eastern Sri Lanka, but for the large numbers scattered in India, it is life as usual.
I daresay that part of this emotional turning away from Eelam has to do with the degeneration in Tamil Nadu during the heyday of the war for Jaffna. The other reason could be the deteriorating situation in our own backyard, Kashmir. The insurgency there, to recall, flared up from a subterranean feeling of resentment into open warfare against the Indian State in 1989, much after Eelam dominated Tamil psyche.
The feeling was one of déjà vu. Training camps in Pakistan? But that's exactly what we were doing for the LTTE. Pakistan's support for the Kashmiri terrorists who we simply call militants? Again, how dissimilar is that to what India was doing, extending moral and financial support to the Tigers in their war against the Sri Lankan State?
How come Indian real estate was so precious while we were willing to abet the dismemberment of a neighbouring, not-too-unfriendly state? These were questions that lay dormant for a long time, till May 1991, when we saw a former prime minister being blown to smithereens by a human bomb. Blown to smithereens in a manner made so familiar in our neighbourhood by the very men whom our own army trained to become killing machines. If the images from Sriperumbudur were hard to digest, it was harder for native Tamils to digest that the movement they backed with their hearts would ultimately turn on their own.
Nine years after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that in his death, he redeemed himself. That with his life, he gave back Tamilians their sense of perspective.
While the rhetoric from some of the SLA's top rankers reminds one of a certain western leader who talked of 'shock and awe' in a war that has now mired his soldiers in a hell with no end in sight, there are other veteran soldiers who think an attack on E'Pass is not really all that important to the anti-LTTE drive at this point. But the planners have done a great job so far in conducting the present anti-terrorism efforts effectively and with specific, meaningful goals achieved. Losing E'pass would deny the LTTE the ability to choke off an armed assault on the rest of the areas from the northern side.
Here's a great article on the subject...http://sf-3.blogspot.com/2008/02/should-sla-make-move-on-eps.html
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Mon, Mar 24 01:48 AM
"As you approach the duty of voting at the elections that will bring democracy, do so with pride and confidence. This transition is a Bhutanese transition."
Twenty-eight-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan couldn't have put it more aptly. For, when his country votes tomorrow for its first democratically elected parliament, it will be a transition that the world has rarely seen before: a monarchy of its own will setting the stage for a government chosen by the people. An election which the King has himself ordained for his people, and in which he, other members of the royal family and those belonging to important religious institutions, cannot participate under the Constitution.
Bhutan looks set to respond to the King's words in kind. Thimphu hotels, usually crowded with international tourists, are empty these days. Most of the hospitality staff have left for their villages to cast votes. In the valley, a majority of the 45,000 residents have left for their respective villages - many in extremely remote areas - to exercise their franchise. About the only remaining population in the some constituencies are their registered voters.
Bhutan's transition to democracy after 1,000 years of hereditary monarchy was set in motion by the present King's father, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk. He started a phased movement towards democracy earlier this decade, and tomorrow's election formally marks an end to absolute monarchy and the beginning of a constitutional democracy....
Friday, March 21, 2008
For long been an ardent reader of his books, I've met Sir Clarke meany times. Each time I've been impressed with the simplicity of the man and his awesome intellect. Seemingly casual comments he made during those meetings often caused the kind of introspective thought which has contributed to my personal development over the years. Hopefully, the books Sir Clarke autographed for my young sons would become treasured items for them far into the future.
In the passing of Sir Clarke, Sri Lanka has lost a true friend. Hopefully the young lives he helped shape would become visionery leaders in many spheres the nation needs to be led.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Looking back in history, this state of affairs was almost predictable for those who had insight into the European Union's unease over the overwhelming superiority of the US forces by the time George W Bush became President. What happened next is another story, one which would perhaps be denied by all those affected by the truth.
But the facts are starting to surface in bits and pieces, seemingly unconnected and in easily deniable state. Following is one such morsel of information;
3/19/2008 12:01:53 AM As part of a broad plan to keep the country safe, the U.S. military is beefing up its efforts to gather intelligence, fend off cyber attacks and improve relations with other nations while its beleaguered military struggles to fight two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The plan acknowledges that a significant risk remains for another outbreak of war elsewhere in the world that the U.S. military cannot quickly and fully respond and it outlines what must be done to counter the threat.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plan sent to the Congress centers around building partnerships with other countries and is accompanied by a classified risk assessment compiled by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gates said in the four-page Pentagon plan obtained by The Associated Press that the "most important component in the Long War is not the fighting we do ourselves but how well we help our partners defend and govern themselves."
This would include providing more disaster relief around the globe to improve "the positive worldwide perception of the United States," Gates added.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The LTTE, as the vicious tamil tiger movement is known, is also currently involved in covertly supporting various terror initiatives in other parts of the world, providing logistical and training support to Al Quieda terrorists and other terror groups across the world.
"...Colombo, March 18 (IANS) A leader of the Tamil Tigers has alleged that Tamils in India are not a free people but are slaves of the Indian state, according to a media report Tuesday.
'In ancient times the whole of India was a Tamil land. And the Chola kings (from Tamil Nadu) ruled over Sri Lanka for 70 years. Today, the Tamils are slaves in India and are fighting for their liberation in Sri Lanka,' Tamil daily 'Sudar Oli' quoted Thamilendhi as saying...."
Tamils of Sri Lanka have been enjoying universal adult franchise along with their majority counter-parts, unlike whom they've failed to produce moderate leaders who could relate to all communities. The Tamils of Sri Lanka have only been enslaved by the violence of the LTTE, and not by anything else. Hence it would make sense for the Tamil Tigers to liberate the Tamils of India now.
As the situation set in motion when Merv the disgusting thug attacked the SL Rupavahini Corporation personnel(which ended in a classic and much applauded beating for the miserable son of a bitch) spun out of control leading to a general strike by the media corp, it is learnt that the daily operations have been taken over by the military.
"...COLOMBO: Sri Lanka state-owned television station, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) is now running under the controller of military after the management declared a "holiday" Sunday night to pre-empt a strike, union workers said. On Monday, the premise was barricaded and only a few selected staffers manning essential services were allowed in, television workers said..."
Friday, March 14, 2008
Apart from many references to the injury sustained by the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the course of an aerial bombardment in November 2007, there was some speculation that he may even have died. (Claims of Prabhakaran's death may be set to rest after Prabhakaran's "public appearance" at the funeral of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance member of parliament, P Sivanesan, in the rebel-held Wanni area, of which the LTTE released photographs on March 9.
The details that embellish these reports, though ignored by spokesmen for the LTTE, have been refuted with disdain by several pro-LTTE writers. Given the questionable credibility of "news" originating from either side of the great divide, it has seldom been possible to sort out the truth from fiction in the stories on the Sri Lankan conflict.
What can, consequently, be attempted is to contextualize the recent surge of media attention on turbulence in the shrinking Tiger habitat of the "Vanni" in northern Sri Lanka, without speculating on whether its leader is dead or dying or hibernating prior to a deadly leap at the jugular. Then, the information must be synthesized into the situation that prevails at present, and taken from sources uncontaminated by propaganda.
In the checkered history of the LTTE, spanning the past three decades during which Prabhakaran has held sway as its supreme leader, there have been several spells during which its insurrectionary capacity suffered serious setbacks.
Prominent among such recessions were: the brief eclipse of the LTTE in the aftermath of the Indian peacekeeping intervention in 1987; the worldwide anti-Tiger sentiment evoked by the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991; the strategic losses stemming from its expulsion by the Sri Lankan armed forces from the Jaffna peninsula in 1995; the constraining effects on its international operations generated by the global tide of hostility towards terrorism following the al-Qaeda attack on the United States in 2001; and, more far-reaching in impact than any other, the internal revolt led by "Colonel Karuna" in March 2004.
The impression conveyed by the experiences in each of these episodes, however, is that the LTTE possessed the inner resilience and the external support required for recovery, if not entirely unscathed, at least with sufficient strength to persist with its campaign of warfare and terror. By contrast, the losses suffered in the more recent past appear to constitute an irreversible and aggravating trend featured by indications that could well portend a final collapse.
Despite the weakening of its grip on the eastern lowlands that resulted from the calamitous breakaway of the Karuna group, the LTTE leadership persisted with unswerving commitment to its goal of establishing a sovereign Tamil nation-state - Eelam - encompassing the entire northeast of Sri Lanka, the pledges of the ceasefire agreement of February 2000 notwithstanding.
As in earlier times, its efforts were directed mainly at enhancement of military strength, expanding the territory under its control in the Northern and Eastern provinces and eliminating its rivals in that part of the country, mobilizing international support for its cause, and destabilizing the government of Sri Lanka through carefully regulated intimidation and terror. Instigating a Sinhalese backlash of violence against the Tamils living outside the northeast - a re-enactment of 1983 - also remained a prime objective as was underscored by the assassination of Sri Lanka's charismatic foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, a provocative outrage committed in the final days of Chandrika Kumaratunga's presidential tenure.
Colombo-based politics of the country during this period remained in a state of flux, featured by both frequent changes of the power configuration as well as intense electoral rivalry. Given the fact that the release of the foreign aid pledged by the donors remained conditional on progress being made towards a negotiated settlement of the conflict, government policy had to accommodate two mutually conflicting needs - that of strengthening security and defense in the face of the mounting Tiger threat, and persistence with credible peace overtures to the LTTE. The latter encountered the almost insurmountable problem of fierce inter-party dissension on what could be offered to the Tigers without endangering the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
On the eve of the presidential election of November 2005, Prabhakaran enforced a boycott of the polls in the north and parts of the eastern lowlands where Ranil Wickremasinghe, former prime minister and a frontrunner of the presidential stakes, would have attracted substantially more support than his rival, Mahinda Rajapakse. This decision appears, in retrospect, to have been a monumental blunder that marks the onset of a drastic change in the fortunes of Prabhakaran's Eelam campaign. The boycott decision was evidently based on the premise that Wickremasinghe, hailed internationally as the "peace candidate", would, with his commitment to power-sharing under a federal system of government, place in serious jeopardy the case for a secessionist campaign.
Prabhakaran's expectation was that Rajapakse, backed as he was by electoral allies vehemently opposed to a political compromise involving devolution of power to the northeast, would actually attempt to implement his campaign pledges to jettison the ceasefire agreement, to evict the "White Tigers" (Norwegians) from their role as facilitators of peace negotiations, and to discard the notion of the LTTE being the sole representative of the Tamils. Such a hawkish approach, the LTTE leadership believed, would pave the way for a resumption of military confrontations in earnest, backed by vastly enhanced international sympathy and support for the rebels' cause.
Having contributed to Rajapakse's victory at the election, the LTTE leaders began to test the resolve of the new president. Thus, while articulating with greater vehemence than ever before their earlier demands for government intervention in disarming the Karuna group, and for constitutional power over the northeast pending a final resolution of the conflict, they launched a series of guerrilla attacks and acts of terrorism which, in April 2006, reached the heart of Colombo's defense establishment in the near-successful attempt to assassinate the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka.
The sharply escalating level of violence did not evoke a retaliatory response from the government, at least for some time. Rajapakse persisted with his pursuit of peace, risking, in the process, the support of some of his parliamentary allies. He established an "All-Party Representative Committee" tasked with formulating constitutional reforms based on the axiom of devolution. He backed the Norwegian efforts at facilitating fresh peace negotiations, expressing a solemn hope that the brief meeting between delegates of the government and the LTTE, staged at Geneva in February 2006, would mark the resumption of a continuing dialogue with the Tiger leadership.
Rajapakse was also reported to have made a "secret" attempt to establish direct contact with the LTTE high command, knowing full well that the attempt would not be concealed from Sri Lanka's friends abroad. The intensifying LTTE violence, however, could not be ignored indefinitely.
From the commencement of Rajapakse's presidency up to the bomb attack on the army commander (approximately 150 days later), 150 armed services personnel, in addition to about 150 civilians, had been killed by the LTTE. The animosity between the LTTE and the security forces had reached such a fever pitch, and the nationalists' pressure for some retaliation had become so intense, that the president was eventually compelled to initiate a series of air strikes on identified LTTE bases.
Nevertheless, as the president had surmised, the continuing belligerence of the LTTE, on the one hand, and the show of restraint by the government, on the other, did resonate in the policy stances, vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, of several Western governments, both in a substantially enhanced flow of aid as well as in the imposition of sanctions on the LTTE, in member-states of the EU and in Canada in May-June 2006.
The repercussions of Prabhakaran's capricious gamble at the presidential polls soon instilled into his strategy a sense of desperation. This found expression in a series of "Sea Tiger" attacks (including an act of piracy) that evoked strictures from several quarters including the secretary general of the UN and the head of the Scandinavian "Ceasefire Monitoring Mission" stationed in Sri Lanka
Prabhakaran retaliated by demanding the removal of all non-Norwegian members of the Monitoring Mission from the northeast. The tempo of violence was increased further with a spate of attacks on military and civilian targets in all parts of the country. Then came the major military showdown in the eastern lowlands that began on July 20, 2006, in the form of a "riparian" confrontation in the irrigation channel system of Mavil Aru (south of Trincomalee) which compelled the government to retaliate in earnest, with a nod of approval from the US. Thereafter, following a series of bloody battles that lasted up until mid-2007 - in the course of which the LTTE incurred heavy losses - the rebels were finally evicted from the entire Eastern Province.
Throughout this period of intense military activity in the east, confrontations between the security forces and the LTTE elsewhere in the country took various forms. The Forward Defense Lines (FDL) of the government-controlled areas in the Jaffna peninsula and in the hinterland of Mannar continued to be venues of low intensity clashes, with occasional flare-ups.
In localities adjacent to the FDL in Vavuniya District, army killings of suspected insurgents and LTTE claymore-mine attacks and ambushes of army patrols occurred in routine fashion. The severe maritime losses suffered by the LTTE during these months included the sinking of 11 of its vessels off the east coast. Most significant, as an ingredient of the LTTE military debacle, was the destruction caused by the constant aerial bombardments in which Thamilchelvan, head of the LTTE's political wing, perished on November 3, 2007, and Prabhakaran suffered injury on November 27, 2007.
These military defeats constitute only one (albeit the key) component of the current LTTE crisis. The mutually interacting "external" misfortunes of the Tigers in the recent past include the death in December 2006 of Anton Balasingham, who had served for well over two decades as by far the most effective international spokesman and propagandist for the secessionist campaign.
The impact of the loss of its carefully nurtured image of invincibility has been even more profound, especially on the support from the expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil communities whose responses to fluctuating fortunes of the LTTE have never been devoid of elements typical of "cheer-squad" reactions.
Recent reports also indicate that the increasingly stringent enforcement of anti-terrorism regulations in some Western countries has curtailed both diaspora funding as well as other operations of LTTE agents and "front" outfits abroad. The crescendo of their desperate campaign for UN "humanitarian intervention" against the alleged proliferation of human rights violations in Sri Lanka has achieved a measure of success in generating external pressures against the country's war effort, but has had no mitigating effect on the pariah status of the Tigers.
Foremost among the internal causes for the present LTTE crisis is the prevailing trend towards factional disintegration of its leadership which, as the related evidence suggests, could well represent the emergence subterranean rivalries that had been in existence all along.
It may be recalled that the departure of Karuna caused a mini-purge in the Tiger leadership. Thereafter, when Thamilchelvan was killed in November 2007, certain critics (among them, S R Balasubramaniam, Congress Party leader in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu), cast doubt on the "official" explanation of the death, and pointed to the possibility of Thamilchelvan having been killed by Prabhakaran in the same way he had liquidated other potential rivals in the past.
In addition, throughout recent years, there has been the barely concealed animosity between two of the highest-ranking Tiger leaders - "Pottu Amman" (aka Shanmuganathan Sivasankaran, the feared head of the Tiger intelligence network whose spectacular "hits" include the masterminding of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination) and "Soosai" (aka Thillaiyampalan Sivanesan), the charismatic "Sea Tiger" admiral.
According to an analysis of this rivalry by the journalist D B S Jeyaraj, when Soosai (who had been accused by Pottu Amman of connivance with the renegade Karuna and the Indian external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing - RAW)suffered serious injury in 2004 while engaged in a speed-boat maneuver (though the injury was officially attributed to an accident) the widespread and lingering belief within the LTTE that it was the consequence of an attempt by Pottu to murder Soosai had given rise to clashes among its rank and file which took a long time to subside.
Factional rivalries of this type in the Vanni and their repercussions outside the country are likely to intensify if, indeed, the reported weakening of Prabhakaran's grip over the LTTE is true.
Yet another internal dimension of the crisis is seen in the recent resurgence of several anti-LTTE political organizations among the Tamil community of Sri Lanka, most of which were reconciled to a shadowy existence in the heyday of the Tigers in the past.
Tamil critics of the LTTE have become bolder in expressing their views than ever before. Some among them repeatedly announced that the "Eelam" campaign is doomed. A distinction between the LTTE interests and those of the Tamils of Sri Lanka is being drawn with clarity and vehemence. There is also a publicly expressed suspicion that the recent spate of murders of several pro-LTTE activists operating outside the northeast represents the work of such organizations, the members of which rank among the innumerable victims of LTTE terror.
As a barrier to statutory recognition of the entire northeast as a ethnically distinctive entity (which, of course, constitutes the conceptual basis of the secessionist campaign), the Supreme Court announced on October 16, 2006, that the then-existing amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern provinces as a single unit of Provincial Government (a sequel to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987) had all along been constitutionally ultra vires. This is an even more insurmountable measure than the military eviction of the LTTE from the east.
The cumulative impact of these complex military and political defeats on the LTTE has been devastating, producing the most acute crisis of the group's existence. Sustained government operations in the north now have the capacity to inflict progressive damage on the rebel infrastructure and support base, increasingly undermining any residual potential for recovery and consolidation.
G H Peiris, professor emeritus of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
What the Sri Lankan Navy needs to develop... a fast attack craft capable of launching air-borne surveillance systems and light craft to carry small attack teams. We already possess the technological capabilities. The need now is to adapt to the changing threat scenario and build weapons platforms that can perform multiple tasks independently.
Military Photos: Sc [www.strategypage.com]an Eagle Launch
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Among the racist Tamil terrorist savages, it is the dog-eat-dog season. The Sri Lankan army is on a roll, it is backed by the democratic will of the long suffering people of the country who want to see a decisive end to the scourge of terrorism that has plagued the nation for over two decades. Their morale high, and led by men of determination and commitment, possessing a vision of a better future for the people they defend, the average terrorist pussies are no match for the Sri Lankan Defense Forces.
It is in the face of doubtless defeat that the Tamil Tigers are desperate for any distraction to avert their decimation. Killing their own kith and kin to earn a reprieve is well within their capabilities and thinking.