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Sri Lankan Civil War History: The Closing Days for the LTTE Rebels

November 20, 2015

Sri Lankan Civil War: The Closing Days for the LTTE Rebels

First Published: March 29th 2009 
If we are to believe the official Sri Lankan Government reports then the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) Rebels have been driven back to an area of one square kilometre of land. Though they are in an area of twenty-two square kilometres, twenty square kilometres is the Demarcated No Fire Zone. However it is difficult to take official government statements on face value as much of it is being sexed up for the local population. The LTTE have gone well beyond sexing up their pronouncements to the point of irrationally discrediting themselves with a media blitz about a nonexistent genocide. The government rightly pointed out that if genocide was going on why do they have over 50,000 Tamils in refugee camps that they are running? The camps may not be the ideal comfortable and dignified haven but they are not a war zone either.

In the past couple of weeks, the LTTE controlled land halved and halved again. This is despite intense fighting and the hurried construction of massive earth bunds. As one bund is being destroyed another is being built behind it. Reports from military sources say that the LTTE are using thousands of civilians as forced labour in the construction of defences. Anyone who tries to escape is being fired upon. There have been numerous deaths and wounded reported with some escapees carrying their dead to government controlled areas.

In terms of propaganda, the level of noise is increasing rather than decreasing. Concerted effort, is being applied from both sides to influence the UN and the US policy makers. In terms of influence, the Sri Lankan Government has the distinct advantage not of being a prescribed terrorist organisation. It also has been able to counter LTTE propaganda within minutes of it being released, where just two years ago it took them over a week to give an official response to the LTTE aerial attack on Colombo. The defeat of any terrorist organisation on the battlefield also feeds into the assertion, that terrorism, in general, can be defeated. Hence a vanquished LTTE has a lot of people poised to say, “if little old Sri Lanka can do it with arms the why can’t we do the same?” Though this result is not transferable to every theatre of war the desk thumping self-appointed experts may not try to differentiate.
The last remnants of the LTTE Rebels have either positioned themselves in the Demarcated No Fire Zone or are defending their last one kilometre of space. The government is reporting that the LTTE have never fought so hard to defend a patch of land. Even Kilinochchi, which was symbolically the most important point of their existence, was abandoned at the last moment. Also, Elephant Pass, which strategically kept they Island divided, they also deserted. However, now when faced with losing a strategically worthless stretch of land, they are making a last stand that will inevitably fail. There is no question about that prospect. The LTTE are finished and it is only a question of time before it is finally announced. And yet in the face of certain defeat the LTTE leader Prabhakaran seems determined to fight to the last man. Had it not been for the fact that an estimated 60,000 civilians are being held captive by the LTTE the war would have been over months ago.

People in Sri Lanka are already talking in terms of a post-war nation and how it should be rebuilt. Billions of dollars have been borrowed, creating a huge deficit. Aid has been promised from the international community once there is peace. Much of it is earmarked for the areas that were previously under LTTE control. Yet there is also pressure building to divert funds to assist Colombo in weathering the current economic downturn.

There is a push from international governments to settle the ethnic conflict once and for all through all party talks and devolution of power. The future of this aspect will be crucial in reducing the conditions that would lead to another civil war. One thing is certain and that is that the LTTE will be excluded from these talks or any future negotiations.

The other issue is what to do about the sophisticated international terrorist fundraising network that is still in running. Hundreds of Millions of dollars have been raised each year throughout the Tamil Diaspora. This is not just a problem that affects Sri Lanka, but one of international terrorism. There has never been a terrorist fundraising network as thorough as the one that the LTTE had, with satellite television channels, ID cards, direct debit from bank accounts, contribution quotas set by estimated income and the tracking of almost every Tamil business person in Britain. It is a network that offers a blueprint to other terrorist groups and unless it is dismantled by the countries where it operates, it will find that the idle fundraisers will be offered consultancy roles in new terrorist groups. The last time that the LTTE offered consultancy to other terrorists it was to export the design of the suicide jacket to the Al Qaeda. A fundraising outfit, like the one that the LTTE runs, is potentially far more dangerous because it provides the funds to pay for attacks.

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