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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2736

LTTE hit by loss of territory, cadres, prestige and now revenue agrees to talk

From our Political Correspondent

Colombo, 04 October ( Latest unconfirmed reports reveal that the LTTE has agreed to the October date set by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for the talks to begin. LTTE agreed after Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer went to Killinochchi with two dates and three conditions for the talks to begin. The two dates offered by the are October 30 and November 10. LTTE has agreed to begin talks between 28- 30 in Oslo.

Analysts agreed that the LTTE had nowhere to go but to talks. The GoSL could not fix other dates as it was tied down with its parliamentary agenda.

The three GoSL conditions are: 1. Prabhakaran must himself make the commitment to the co-chairs or the facilitators and to the government (Sri Lanka)." 2. "They must ensure that smuggling of arms via sea and grouping up together in order to destabilise government must stop with in that period." 3. "If the LTTE get in to any kind of terrorist activities we reserve the right to respond."

At the time of writing there is no confirmation of LTTE agreeing to the three conditions. It is, however, speculated that the LTTE would have agreed to the conditions in some form as the GoSL did not see any point in starting talks without consent to their conditions.

S. P. Tamilselvan, former bodyguard of Prabhakaran now heading the Political Wing of the LTTE, is reported in the TamilNet as saying "So far we have been flexible for talks. But Colombo seems to be locked in military mindset."

Analysts see this as the latest attempt of the Tamil Tigers to parade before the international community as the doves who are threatened by hawkish GoSL. Their pincer movement off the battlefield now is to (1) claim that their moves for peace talks have been thwarted by GoSL and (2) highlighting their casualties in the on-going sniping from both sides as a "humanitarian disaster."

The latest TamilNet report said today: "Tigers were still extending support to unconditional talks as urged by the International Community, the LTTE political head told TamilNet." Indicating that they are complying with the urgings of the "International Community" is their way of text messaging that they are the good boys who are bullied by the bad boys of GoSL

The three new conditions laid down by the GoSL are seen as vital factors necessary to lay the foundations for any future talks. The GoSL has run out of patience with the old tactics of the LTTE declaring "unilateral peace" and "unilateral war" as and when it pleases the Tiger hierarchy. Government sources say that they are not going to fall for this old trick anymore.

As things stands now Hanssen-Bauer will not take the peace process anywhere if he fails to bring consent from Killinochchi for the three conditions stipulated by the GoSL. Analysts agree that the post-Sampur ground situation has made it difficult for the LTTE to dictate terms as in the past. The Norwegian duo, Erik Solheim and Hanssen-Bauer, who were riding high .on the military gains of the LTTE have lost their leverage. Besides, the three conditions are seen as reasonable requirements in the light of the past performances of the LTTE. A GoSL source said that if the LTTE wants conducive conditions for peace talks then there is nothing better than the three conditions to guarantee the environment needed for both sides to enter talks.

Disillusioned by 95% of the violations of the Ceasefire Agreement by the LTTE the GoSL argues that these three conditions are the minimum requirements to keep the LTTE at the negotiating table. Analyst argue that since the LTTE expressions of willingness to come to talks without conditions will not stop them from raising conditions later as they have done in the past. The LTTE has hoodwinked the GoSL and the international community too many times with this ruse that they can’t sell it any more, says the GoSL source.

In the meantime, the LTTE is facing heavy financial losses leading to disruption of their administrative network. The closing of the A-9 is reported to have put thousands of LTTE cadres employed in manning those checkpoints and collecting illegal taxes out of work. It was also a source of raising millions to keep the LTTE cadres and their families going. In the last three months the LTTE losses are estimated to be in the region of 250 million rupees. Some analysts assess this to be a greater blow than the loss of Sampur.

The LTTE will find it extremely to keep up the morale of its cadres if they are unable to finance their essential needs. The legitimacy of the so-called de facto state will be under severe strain if the LTTE continues to get more beatings and continue to lose revenue from local and overseas sources.

- Asian Tribune -

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