BEATEN to the draw by the SL Defence Forces on Sri Lankan soil, the eelamist lobby overseas is busy making alternate arrangements to pursue a campaign of subversion against the island nation. These anti-Sri Lankan forces stlll possess formidable clout in many influential places including the UN, US Congress, with powerful EU law makers and various others across the world.
Primarily they seek to accomplish two distinct goals. In the short term to intensify international pressure on the Sri Lankan government to force it to allow all civillians currently in refugee camps in the north and east to disperse into the country side, so that the thousands of LTTE cadres hiding among them immediately become free to re-organize, re-arm and be ready to re-commence hostilities.
Time is a crucial factor for both sides, it is currently on the side of the Sri Lankan state which badly needs to identify and neutralize all threats currently in hiding; the well trained LTTE cadres and the massive arms caches that the Sri Lankan forces are continuing to unearth as evidence is analized. The SLG has a valid card it needs to play well; it cannot afford to send civillians into areas that are dangerous due to mining, and potential desease. Assistance offered by some foreign nations to expedite this process must be viewed in this context as both benevolent as well as a part of a well formulated strategy to counter Sri Lankan government's ability to stretch the time it needs to weed out the terrorists and destroy their arms caches. Therefore it is essential that those who are to be re-settled in the soon to be cleared areas are investigated quickly for the level of their connections to the LTTE.
The pro-eelam lobby's long term goal would be to develop the potential to offer a combination of threats against Sri Lanka, while weening itself from the currently debilitating terrorist group image. Sri Lanka needs to understand the growing threats in these twin scenarios; her enemies have been successful so far in implementing both strategies to considerable extent, being able to to bring increasingly greater pressure on Sri Lanka to hastily let loose LTTE terrorists along with civillians. They have also begun to effectively excercise well developed long term relationships with leading international political figures towards earning recognition that of being representatives of almost a seperate state entity. The eelamists have a delicate balancing act in this game; they have to be able to build internal military pressure necessitating the Sri Lankan state to maintain a very difficult, high lelve of vigilance, while working hard to convince the outside world that they are no longer terrorists. Their close connections to liberal politicians in many western nations is a huge asset for this purpose and the diaspora eelamists can be relied on to be put it to use. The readiness of some of the outspoken foreign law makers and supporters of the eelamist lobby abroad, who seem to be increasingly willing to consider the pro-LTTErs connections with Tamil Tiger terrorism as a distant and unrelated happening should ring alarm bells in Colombo.
Sri Lanka as usual has lost the initiative in the diplomatic skirmishing since military operations ended. The government has succeeded in tying itself in knots by muzzling its own best attack dogs in international fora while slowly degenerating in the international mind's eye to appear increasingly like a corrupt, family regime which dependents purely on violence to rule with an iron fist. Nobody likes a thugocracy.
Disenchanted domestic politicians and some media factions are contributing towards this decline in no small measure. While the SLG had understandable reasons to muzzle the press while the fighting was on, there needs to be a visible decline of government pressure tactics to do so now that fighting is over and the nation needs greater transparency in what happens next. This is where responsible media institutions need to reach out to the upper echelons of government in order to establish an understanding of how necessary levels of media freedom can yet again be guaranteed and be free of government interference or intimidation.
The end to fighting didn't end the war of Tamil tribal racist seperatism in Sri Lanka. It simply forced a change in the way this conflict now will be faught; on unfamiliar soil and a terrain in which the enemy has always held a clear advantage. Where the supremacy of the pro-eelamist diaspora was challenged only with some success and that too very briefly when the government let loose talented and unbridled Sri Lankan intelligensia to represent it. Over the past few months the SLG has destroyed its own ability to be heard overseas effectively by a comitting a series of near sighted blunders such as replacement of important diplomatic positions abroad with political nominees whose skills and capabilities at best are debatable.
Sri Lanka's failures in the international fora since the fighting ended is well summarized by departing comments by the most recent UN representative to visit Sri Lanka, Lynn Pascoe who said, "you have a better story than is getting out today...". Sri Lanka's recent actions tantamount to shooting itself in the foot and then the belly. Whether we will proceed to shoot ourselves in the head next, seems to be a matter of time.
Sri Lanka must understand the importance and urgency of Lynn Pascoe's words and not treat them as lightly. His words are not a commendation. They in reality are a critique of an important Sri Lankan governmental failure which can and will lead to disastrous long term consequences for the country. This is not an accomplishment the Sri Lankan government should pat itself on the back about, yet recent media announcements from the Presidential Secretariat seem to indicate such a perception.
It is very imporatant that Sri Lanka no longer fail to keep the outside world informed of exactly what is happening on Sri Lankan soil. Keeping the outside world informed can still offer the island nation much needed international understanding and support in this continuing and fast evolving conflict. It can also be used effectively to counter the anti-Sri Lanka rhetoric which depends largely on the unpreparedness of the Sri Lankan government to counter its blatant lies with any degree of effectiveness.
In order to be able to communicate effectively and also earn international respect, we must with all honesty ensure that our actions against our own people are both responsible and dignified. Communicating facts surrounding issues related to resettlement with the truly affected, the long suffering Tamils in the camps for the internally dispalced must also be done with equal or greater frequency and clarity. Much greater transparency now becomes an urgently needed concession.