Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2865

The Rise and Fall of the LTTE: An analytical observation

By Leel Pathirana

In the early 1990’s outspoken late Deputy Minister of Defense in Sri Lanka told in the parliament "Dying Tigers, Gave oxygen" by president Premadasa. During his tenure Sri Lankan security Forces launched heavy military operations against the LTTE and done heavy losses to the Tigers under the command of Ranjan Wijerathne. It was believed that strength of the Tiger cadres came down up to 4000-6000. Mother of a Solder missing in action.  War has broken the hearts of many mothers both Sinhala & Tamil. Mother of a Solder missing in action. War has broken the hearts of many mothers both Sinhala & Tamil.

Then the President gave arms, ammunitions and money to the Tigers to chase the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) from the Sri Lankan soil. What happened was the vice versa, they used these arms against the Government and majority Singhalese. Also both Wijerathne and President Premadasa had to pay from their lives as well. So President Premadasa’s name highlighted in the history of Sri Lanka, the man who betrayed the Nation giving arms and money to the Terrorists.

The Rise of the LTTE

Then the Tigers became ever stronger during President Chandrika Kumarathunghe’s 11 years unsuccessful regime. The heaviest losses took place to the Sri Lankan security forces during her term in the office. In one night more than 600 hundred Naval personal were killed when Tigers attacked Nagasevanthurai and Poonaryn Naval Base. Then more than 1200 army personnel were killed when Mullaithievu army base came under attacked. Times to time more than 17 Aircrafts were gunned down by the Tigers SAM Missiles. Sri Lankan Navy lost most of it’s super Dovras and which are uncountable. 1995 Tigers attacked the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo and killed more than 300 innocents’ civilians. 1998 Tigers launched another attack in the World Heritage City Kandy, The most sacred places of all Sri Lankans The Temple of the Buddhist Tooth Relic. On July 2000, Colombo International Airport came under attack and within few hours they destroyed 13 Aircrafts including six Airbuses. The above summery is the major attacks only carried by the LTTE. Jon Westburg former Norwegian Ambassador to Colombo,  shaking the hand of  Ranil Wickramasinghe  after signing the CFA agreement on 22 February 2002.          Jon Westburg former Norwegian Ambassador to Colombo, shaking the hand of Ranil Wickramasinghe after signing the CFA agreement on 22 February 2002.

Implementation of the security situation in Sri Lanka was seen as a total failure during President Chandrika’s regime due to an appointment of unqualified figure for the position of Deputy Minister of Defense and he was the uncle of President Chandrika.

When purchasing arms during her regime, none of the dealings were transparent. Financial irregularities took place millions in every transaction. The arms and ammunitions were purchased either old or out of ordered and some parts had to be re imported spending another millions. For instance, Military helicopters purchased from Ukraine had to be grounded at Ratmalana military airport base since those had to be repaired.

Then emerged the most crucial part of Sri Lanka’s politics. Mr.Ranil Wickramasinghe came to power promising that he will give “Chewing Gum and Gold Bracelets to the youths of thje country.” This was the appropriate time to the Norwegian facilitators to formulate a document the famous Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) which bolstered the legality to the ‘Terrorist Organization.’ CFA gave a legality, diplomacy and international recognition to the terrorist outfit. Also not only the legality under the CFA, but also Government had acquiesced on conditions that LTTE is holding separate territories. CFA was an illegal document prepared by the Norwegians for the favor of the Tigers and was signed by the UNF (United National Front) Government against the will of the citizens of Sri Lanka. Neither a referendum was called nor it was produced before the parliament for the approval. This came under heavy criticism during the election campaign by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but it came to zero value once he assumed the duties in the office.

During the CFA, building military bases was the main objective of the LTTE. A sole example was the Sampoor. It became the stronghold of the LTTE and their Eastern command having positioned 122-133mm Artillery Guns and 81mm Mortar positions aiming the Trincomalee Harbor and it’s Naval Base. Despite these facts, then the UNF government spokesman Mr.G.L.Peiris continuously denied the existence of Sampoor. LTTE built several camps before the vicinity of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

The fall of the LTTE

What became the biggest blow to the LTTE after it was founded, the break away of their Eastern Command Vinayagamoorthi Muralidaran alias ‘Karuna Amman’ with all of his Cadres. This became one third of their strength. They started launching attacks against their former leader. Kruna faction’s prime target was Kowshalyan, Head of the Political wing of the Batticaloa-Amparai districts. He was later assassinated.

Tsunami became another catastrophe to the Tigers Sea Wing and did heavy damages to their vessels, arsenals and cadres. The number of the deaths of their cadres was not known to the public.

Internal struggle between the Political Wing and the Military wing commanders are another dispute.

Assassination of the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, world-renowned diplomat, Mr.Lakshman Kadiragamar was another barbaric act and this was condemned by the international community. This came intensify ban on the LTTE by the European Union.

The recent nab by the FBI, while Tigers trying to purchase SAM Missiles and 500 pieces of Kalashnikovs (AK47) were also failed. It is now evident that they do not have missile capability or it is extremely very limited. Much of their missiles then, purchased through Mujahidin guerillas in Afghanistan.

Freezing of TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organization) accounts was also has much affected the LTTE financially.

Recent attack by the SLAF & SLN to the ship carrying military hardware in the Eastern waters was another major loss. It was believed to be sailing from a port in Indonesia. Far- East destinations were always suitable places for the Tigers to smuggle arms since various terrorist groups are operating in the Far East and South Asia. For instance Al Queda cells in Bali Indonesia, Abu Sayaaf in the Philippines, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and also military junta in Myanmar, now in Thailand etc…. also another aspect is the wealthy Tamil businessman’s in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. They are always their sympathizers.

Most important factor is there guerilla army. LTTE new recruitments of their cadres are given preliminary training and were not fit to be in the Front Line. They were not well trained how a guerilla army could face with the conventional warfare - air, sea and ground.

The capture of the Sampoor was something that they never expected. This was the biggest achievement of the Sri Lankan security forces during the recent history after the CFA was signed.

The success of the recent military operations and its characteristics can be summarized as follows.

1.All the military operations did not become Politicized

2. Strategically well planned and laid out by all three forces, Air, Sea and Ground with accurate timings.

3. Proper monitoring of the enemy and movements

4. Vigilance of the public and cooperation

5. Public support for the forces in the South organized by certain political parties, artists, visiting injured solders by Buddhist monks etc…

Falling in to the Trap

When look back the history of the LTTE, several Governments have had many round of talks since 1983 Thimpu in Bhuthan to 2006 Château de Bosse in Switzerland. None of the parities could come to a compromise. Whereas both side gained heavy losses. Peace talks or cease-fire agreements were used by the Tigers as an ‘interim period’ to regroup and prepare for launch of future major attacks. Whenever they are weakened they come for the negotiation table. Almost all the successive governments had fallen in to this trap either intentionally or due to the lack of knowledge of the issue or to comply with the international community and the Co-Chairs in order to obtain financial supports and aids.

Whatever said the LTTE’s resilience were always amazing in the past, therefore government has to move cautiously with measured steps to wipe out the LTTE terrorist menace from this country.

Leel Pathirana writer of this article is an Ex-Jailed Activist of the JVP Insurgency in Sri Lanka during 1988/89

- Asian Tribune -

Share this