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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2908

Defeated Tigers target civilians

Colombo, 09 January, ( After the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) the Tigers have changed tactics. They are not putting up the fight they were expected to in the battlefield where they are losing cadres and territory daily. They have moved to target unarmed civilians in urban areas.

Military sources consider this as a desperate move of the Tigers who are facing defeat in all fronts.

Political commentators consider thie abrogation of the CFA as the biggest blow to the Tigers after Thoppigala. The Tigers have lost all what they gained on February 22, 2002 when the CFA was signed. This act of abrogation has legalized the ground situation after the fall of Thoppigala. There is no legal or political basis now for the Tigers to claim what they lost in the east.

The Tigers still had the right to claim the east if the CFA was not abrogated. But the reluctance of the Tigers to come back to the negotiating table and undermining the provision of the CFA with impunity made the CFA a useless piece of paper which was of no use to either party or the war-weary people.

The attack on civilians in Colombo is the last gamble of the Tigers. It is bound to put the Tigers in the bad books of the international community. The backlash of bombing civilians in selected targets is going to blacken their international image further. The only way out for the Tigers is to return to the negotiating table. They cannot do so with the military balance tilting against them. Their game plan seems to be to regain their military power by hitting soft targets in urban areas. This is going to provoke retaliatory action by the Government. For the Tigers to make an impact they must confront the forces. Their tactic of targeting civilians is going to be counter-productive

Even though the Tigers lost the east and parts of the north to the advancing Security Forces they still had an outside chance of recovering the lost territory by officially hanging on to the CFA which recognized the east and the north as a part of the Tiger-held territory. This is the reason why the Tigers did not officially terminate it. But the abrogation of the CFA by the Government has nullified all concessions granted to the Tigers on February 22, 2002.

If the CFA remained intact there was also a possibility of another government re-starting the talks on the basis of CFA. There was also the possibility of international pressure forcing the Government to start negotiations on the basis of the defunct CFA. However, after January 16 the legal validity of the CFA ceases to exist. This is a severe loss to the Tigers who have no legal basis now to reclaim what they lost to the Security Forces.

The Tigers have intensified their violence hoping to put pressure on the Government to go back to the defunct CFA. Tiger violence, however, is not going to take them anywhere near their political goals. The more they target civilians the more they stand accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not going to win them the international backing they are expecting.

The Tiger attacks on civilian targets are also aimed at demoralizing the south. But commentators are agreed that the Government will not be deterred easily. The Government will continue its offensive until they reach Killinochchi. Tiger attacks on soft civilian targets will continue with no hope of ending the military offensive.

The international community too was taken aback by the abrogation. They failed to uphold the provisions of the CFA to maintain peace, with their peace monitors failing to perform their duties as stipulated. They virtually turned a blind eye to the Tigers violating 98% of the terms and conditions of the CFA. They reacted aggressively only when the Security Forces started to push back the Tigers deeper into the Vanni. They have threatened to cut aid. Some NGOs have also got into the act of threatening the Government of Sri Lanka by sending R2P forces to halt the advance of the Security Forces.

In the meantime, the Western peace-makers and even India have begun to blame the Government for not accepting their instructions and halting the advance of the Security Forces. The Tamil parties in the democratic stream, however, have hailed the abrogation as a step in the right direction.

Once again the Tigers have overplayed their hand by escalating violence. The Government’s reaction has been to re-double its offensive each time the Tigers attack civilian and military targets.

The south has got used to bombs going off now and then. This is not to say that the Government can be complacent about it. As the Tiger space shrinks in the Vanni it most likely that they will disperse and resort to more terror tactics than guerilla warfare, confronting the Security Forces. The bombs that go off in Colombo are seen as the knee-jerk reaction of the Tigers who are losing heavily in the battlefields.

- Asian Tribune -

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