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 Post subject: LTTE on the run
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:10 am 
LTTE on the run
The Hindu Editorials

Copyright © 2007, The Hindu
Friday, Apr 27, 2007

The Tamil Tigers are on the run in the face of a concerted military offensive by the Sri Lanka government. This is evident, among other things, in their retreat from erstwhile strongholds in the east — Sampur in Trincomalee in September 2006, Vaharai in Batticaloa in January 2007, and in recent weeks a number of smaller bases. The Sri Lanka Air Force has played a leading role in boosting the state's ground forces. The two aerial raids by the Tigers — targeting the SLAF's main base at Katunayake on March 26 and the Palali air base on April 24 — can, in fact, be interpreted as symptoms of desperation. The LTTE has not been able to inflict any serious damage on Lanka military assets. The SLAF has, for the first time in history, acquired night strike capability. In effect, this doubles the strength of the Air Force and the Tigers no longer have a free run from dusk to dawn. There are questions relating to the accuracy and degree of effectiveness of the SLAF raids. In the absence of a credible monitoring mechanism and with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) grounded, it is difficult to evaluate the current state of the LTTE's fighting infrastructure.

The military managers of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime are confident that the armed forces will be able to degrade the terrorists' military machine provided there are no obstacles from within or outside the island nation. President Rajapaksa on his part has invested full faith in his generals. In the context of Sri Lanka, a `fight to the finish' military mission is a discredited phrase, given the track record of successive governments. The present strategy, which has been effective, springs from the conviction there can be neither peace nor development in the country as long as the offensive capability of the LTTE is not neutralised. The government is certainly within its rights in going after the LTTE. It has in its possession a video tape of a speech made by Velupillai Prabakaran to his commanders days after the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement was signed; here he asks them to treat the ceasefire as a period of rest and preparation for the bigger battle ahead. Assuming that the video recording is authentic, Mr. Prabakaran's harangue is of a piece with his past behaviour. The Rajapaksa administration's military strategy would do much better if it went hand in hand with a clear political vision to resolve the Tamil question on the basis of a federal devolution of power within the framework of a united Sri Lanka. The government must also show greater sensitivity to the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of innocent people caught in the conflict. Military gains have a habit of dissipating in the absence of sound political action.

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