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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

What happens in the aftermath of an LTTE military defeat?

By Geoffrey Evarts

The word from the Wanni does not spell good for Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Reports indicate that the LTTE’s supply of arms have diminished to a trickle for various reasons, chief among them being the Navy’s recent successes in apprehending several Tiger arms shipments. The recent capitulation of the East has also denied the Sea Tigers several important Naval bases and Sea Tiger staging points. India has also extended limited help by enforced patrolling of Tamil Naadu’s coast and denying the LTTE (to a significant extent) use of Tamil Naadu. These factors have resulted in severely affecting the Tigers ability to wage conventional warfare, as conventional military action requires vast stocks of arms and ammunition being constantly re-supplied.

With the newly evolved political situation vis-à-vis the ethnic conflict and the broken down peace process, the LTTE’s ability to wage a conventional war have become vastly more important, as they have to show and prove to the world (and their own international backers) that they have the capability to defend their land and run their own administrations in North-Eastern areas. If Prabhakaran is conventionally defeated, he can revert back to guerrilla mode and keep on fighting. However, this will not serve his purpose of Eelam. In fact, if he goes guerrilla again, he will be more firmly pushed into the “terrorism” bracket, as he will have to resort to more and more political assassinations and casualties to civilians via terror attacks and unconventional warfare. This will result in the LTTE earning more enemies internationally and coming under increasing flak via the “Global War on Terror”.

Things have apparently become so desperate for the LTTE that the Tigers have ordered each family in their areas to contribute at least one member for “the final battle”. Sources also indicate that LTTE defections have increased, but not significantly.

The recent liberation of the East and the security forces ability (with the help of the Karuna Faction and the EPDP) to neutralize Tiger infiltrations to liberated areas have shown that the army has evolved its tactics in holding newly recaptured ground, and is able to effectively counteract guerrilla infiltrations and operations. Most significant among these evolved tactics is to recruit police personnel from these very areas itself.

The security forces have also had considerable success in detecting and thwarting Tiger attempts to smuggle arms and explosives caches to the south in order to conduct assassinations and guerrilla attacks on the city. This is an extremely significant achievement as a guerrilla attack on the city (even though it might not do significant damage) is a propaganda victory for the Tigers, enhancing their “David vs Goliath” image.

The Army’s newly reactivated Deep Penetration Units - the elite men who infiltrate Tiger areas and carry out hit and run attacks against LTTE targets – have been achieving notable successes, even though they cannot be publicised by the government for obvious reasons.

On the political front…

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s plan of militarily destroying the Tigers seems to be coming to fruition. However, coming this close to the doors of victory has taken a heavy cost on his Presidency and the government as well.

1) First and foremost is the staggering rise in the cost of living, which is making the average people increasingly disillusioned with the government.

2) The President has had to turn a blind eye on corrupt government politicians with their fingers in the cookie jar, and has also had to liberally dish out ministerial portfolios and perks to greedy politicians in order to consolidate and maintain a stable Government. This has encouraged the greedier out of the rogues to steal even more!

3) It has also been revealed that public expenditure on vehicles, houses, perks and security for the worlds’ largest government is taking a heavy toll on Lanka, and is contributing to its economic deterioration.

(Several government ministers shamelessly admitted in Parliament recently that they hire several vehicles on rents ranging from of rupees 1 to 2 lakhs per month! An admission of such magnitude would have resulted in immediate resignation or sacking of that politician in any developed democracy, but not in Sri Lanka of course)

4) The President has had to suffer personal insults and allegations to himself and his family, being accused of bribery and corruption, amongst others.

The next important step the President has to take is to get the Southern Political parties (as well as the SLMC, NUA, and the EPDP etc) to come to a political consensus on what form of devolution Sri Lanka is going to adopt. This step is of paramount importance because if the Security Forces achieve a military victory over the LTTE, it should be speedily followed up by devolution of power which is seen as fair and just by Sri Lanka’s North Eastern population. Failure to devolve power fairly will result in the LTTE or a similar Tamil Nationalist organization re-manifesting itself with the support of the embattled Tamils from the North & East. Consensus on devolution will also spur the International Community to back Sri Lanka’s economic drive full hilt. That is why devolution is so important.

The key to Sri Lanka’s successful consensus of devolution lies with the SLFP and the UNP. If these two Giant parties agree on what form of power devolution Sri Lanka would take, a vast majority of the Sri Lankan people would back it. The LTTE will also be forced to reject their demand for a separate state and contribute towards lasting peace under one Sri Lanka. If the SLFP and the UNP come to consensus, the international community will also back Sri Lanka in whatever way she wants. The JVP, who is dead set against devolution, will also be neutralized with the coming together of the two main political parties, as the vast majority of Sri Lanka’s voting public casts their ballots for the UNP and the SLFP. However, typical of petty Sri Lankan politics, the Islands two main parties cannot come to agreement for differing petty reasons, even though funnily enough both parties wholeheartedly agree to maximum devolution of power.

The UNP has endorsed power devolution within a Federal framework, with the Provincial Council being the point of devolution, while the SLFP, of which a majority of members secretly (and openly) agree to a “Sri-Lankanized” form of Federalism, have submitted a different set of devolution proposals with the district being the main unit of devolution.

The reason for the SLFP’s ridiculous set of devolution proposals is the Presidents’ eagerness to appease the JVP. The President is keeping the JVP in his good books in order to use the Reds as a back up force if he begins to lose his hold on parliament. The reds know this very well and are using this as leverage to disrupt the rest of the political parties in coming to consensus.

Meanwhile, the petty minded UNP, seeing that the government is in political hot water, is placing more and more stumbling blocks by refusing to contribute to the APRC until the other parties come up with their own proposals. The reason for the UNP doing this is simple. Throw more and more stumbling blocks at an embattled government and eventually it will trip and fall, paving the way for the UNP to pick the pieces and come to power.

So basically, both Sri Lanka’s main political parties, instead of thinking of the greater good of the people and coming to consensus on devolution, are throwing obstacles at each other in order to (in the case of the UNP) grab or (in the case of the SLFP) maintain power.

So even if Sri Lanka’s Security Forces work hard and achieve the impossible, all this will be in vain, with politicians acting like vultures and squabbling over who should get the lion share of the meat from the corpse!

I just wonder when the political culture (or vulture!) of Sri Lanka would make a revolutionary change, and she would start producing meritorious politicians who will actually do some good for the country instead of “poshanaya-fying” themselves!

- Asian Tribune -

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