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Lives lost yielding nothing to Colombo

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 January 2009 21:35 No Comment]

"It is not a question of whether Tamil Eelam will become independent. Rather, it is a question of how many lives, on both sides of the Tamil Eelam border, the Sinhala regime(s) are prepared to waste in the process," writes a reader, Mr. Poulson, in response to TamilNet’s call for opinion last week. "The Sinhala polity is not interested in a ceasefire and nor are the strategic partners. Hence it must be forced upon them," he writes further in his situation analysis.

Full text of the situation analysis posted from UK, follows:

The recent military setbacks of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are by no means a new phenomenon. Over the course of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle territory has been traded between the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the LTTE continuously.

Ki’linochchi was of course, prior to its "capture" on the 2nd of January, the administrative capital of the LTTE. However, before Ki’linochchi, Jaffna was the capital.

As the political head of the LTTE Mr. B. Nadesan said in his interview to TamilNet, it is the people’s support, which drives the LTTE, not the territory which it happens to hold or have lost.

As can be seen in the case of Jaffna, the strength of the LTTE is not centred on a single town, but on the people it serves.

Ki’linochchi was once a thriving town from where the LTTE conducted its civil administration in the post-ceasefire agreement (CFA) era.

However, in the latter months of 2008 it was heavily damaged in aerial bombardment and SLA shelling. Indeed, on the 2nd of October the head office of the LTTE’s political wing and peace secretariat were damaged in a Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) air-strike. Ki’linochchi hospital was also targeted and the main hospital of the region was soon relocated to Tharmapuram.

By the time the SLA finally occupied the town it was deserted, with civilians having already displaced, some long before the occupation.

In fact, the LTTE did not really depend on Ki’linochchi, a town of little real military value.

The LTTE’s military strength remains, in its stronghold of Mullaiththeevu.

Prior to the SLA occupation of Ki’linochchi Nadesan had spoken of how "the Tigers are using new strategies and techniques in their war to protect Ki’linochchi." The LTTE seemed determined to hold Ki’linochchi and fierce fighting was reported in the Vanni.

Indeed, on the 20th of December the LTTE reported that they had mounted a pre-emptive strike against the SLA which was preparing to attempt to advance from the Mu’rika’ndi – Ira’naimadu area.

However, on the 22nd of December, the BBC published a report detailing an e-mail interview which it had conducted with Mr. Nadesan where he had stated that "losing land and recapturing it is common. It is not the real estate that matters. Our freedom struggle will continue to create war towns until our struggle reaches its goal — until we win."

This sudden change of direction is noteworthy. As I have said, by the time the town was occupied it was deserted.

Nadesan’s comments seem to suggest that the LTTE was beginning to place less and less emphasis on Ki’linochchi, which perhaps they had already decided to evacuate.

The Northern Front has been impenetrable recently. 130 SLA were reported to have been killed in 3 days of fighting in Mukamaalai on the 20th of November. Continual heavy fighting was reported in the Northern Front in the latter part of November and the LTTE’s resistance was fierce.

However, it was reported that Vadamaraadchi East was completely abandoned by the LTTE before its occupation by the SLA.

Given this evidence, I would personally be far more surprised to learn that the LTTE were forced out of Ki’linochchi and Vadamaraadchi East, after heavy fighting, than that they held these areas for just long enough to evacuate successfully.

Every LTTE cadre carries cyanide. The Black Tigers carry out operations in which they know they will die. They are deployed to die. This is a testament to the mentality of the LTTE’s cadres.

These men and women have seen their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their friends slaughtered by the Sri Lankan armed forces and its paramilitaries.

This means that in the past, despite being massively out-numbered, the LTTE have successfully carried out very well co-ordinated, highly ambitious military attacks.

The many Operation Unceasing Waves and the Anuradhapura Air Base Attack are two examples of these. The LTTE has the ability to attack with unrivalled ferocity even in the face of great adversity.

This leads me to conclude that there are two possible scenarios that could arise in the recent months.
Firstly, the LTTE may have mounted a strategic withdrawal, in order to preserve cadres for a massive offensive on the Vanni to recapture the territory it has lost. Not only would this be in keeping with past events but it would reflect the repeated assertions by Mr. Nadesan that the LTTE will retrieve the land which has been lost "when the time is right."

It would also reflect Velupillai Pirapaharan’s Heroes’ Day Address, wherein he stated that "[the Sinhala regime] is living in a dreamland of military victory. It is a dream from which it will awake. That is certain."
Should this happen, it would have disastrous consequences for the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL).
The opposition would slam the government for losing so much territory after taking months to capture it and losing thousands of lives. Sri Lanka’s main investors, such as China and Iran, who have given so much money in military aid, would be quick to withdraw it, after seeing how the military has been crushed again.
The Strategic Partners, who have risked the ire of the Eelam Tamil diaspora, would be quick to call for a ceasefire, in an attempt to salvage their interests.

India is likely to suffer the worst. By ignoring the sentiments of Tamil Nadu it has risked an awful lot and it will have seen no reward.

Under pressure from the outside world and the opposition, a ceasefire is almost inevitable.

It is widely believed that the ambitious military attacks of the LTTE were what brought about the previous ceasefire and it is that which will bring about another.

The Sinhala polity is not interested in a ceasefire and nor are the strategic partners. Hence it must be forced upon them.

The second scenario is that the LTTE are in fact weak and the Sri Lankan Military captures Mullaiththeevu and essentially wipes-out the LTTE.

Many people believe that the LTTE will continue to function as a guerrilla group, but I feel differently.
With no strong voice against them, the Sinhala leaders are free to do what they set out to accomplish after independence: the complete subjugation of the Tamil people. But it will be this that inspires a whole new generation of cadres, and with them, an even more ferocious rebellion.

For me, it is not a question of whether Tamil Eelam will become independent. Rather, it is a question of how many lives, on both sides of the Tamil Eelam border, the Sinhala regime(s) are prepared to waste in the process."

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