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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Battered at the hands of the Security Forces:

LTTE expects to take cover of a ceasefire

It is a common practice for the LTTE to change its strategy from time to time considering the prevailing ground situation. The LTTE has proved this fact repeatedly in the almost three decades long conflict in the country. But there is no proof to say that they had ever changed its final goal - the Tamil Eelam - from its agenda.

The current ground situation is not at all in favour of the Tiger outfit. But history has always proved that they could turn these unfavourable situations in their favour if the Tiger leader feels so. But it was under this situation the Southern polity could not read the LTTE correctly.


Army Commander, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka visited Jaffna yesterday to meet senior ground commanders.

The unilateral declaration of Ceasefire and the decision to enter the path of peace negotiations was one of the classic examples where the LTTE showed its political shrewdness to take cover in face of a growing opposition towards terrorist organisations internationally.

It was in the backdrop of the situation that developed internationally after the 9/11 attack in US.

However, the peace process commenced under the United National Front Government with the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002 had turned out to be the biggest opportunity for the LTTE in the recent past to have a legitimate voice not only locally but also internationally to engage in fund raising activities and also have four fold increase in its military might, according to military intelligence.

The increased military might was the base for the Tiger outfit to declare war against the Security Forces in an unofficial level by closing down the Mavil Aru sluice gates and subsequent attack on the Muhamalai FDL on August 11, 2006.

But that was the first time LTTE experienced its downward trend with the series of defeats it had to face commencing from the Mavil Aru battle.

It was after the wise decision by the Government to abrogate the Ceasefire Agreement; the LTTE has been put to this uncertain situation.

Currently the situation has developed into one of the worst situations for the LTTE in its three decade long existence with the loss of many of its ground in the Wanni.

Only the prevailing unexpected rainy conditions in the Wanni have come in the rescue of the LTTE, delaying the advance of the troops into Tiger territory in three fronts in Wanni.

The bad weather conditions prevailing in Wanni has given bad times for both the Security Forces and the LTTE. But the valiant troops have brave all these conditions to advance into Tiger territory in a slow but steady progress in the battlefronts.

No escape

But it seems the LTTE is no longer keeping faith in a militaristic approach with the realisation of the fact that there is no escape for them, if they decide to stick on to the military path to defend their territory from the Security Forces.

The Security Forces witnessed this situation as ground troops continue to recover a large number of bodies left behind by the LTTE in the battlefronts, giving the impression that they can no longer bear the brunt of the military thrust.

According to military, never in the three decades long history of the conflict the LTTE had allowed the troops to collect the bodies of their slain cadres in such a large number. Earlier, even under difficult circumstances they managed to recover the bodies of their dead cadres. Therefore, perhaps, this must be an early sign of a sure defeat the LTTE is going to face in a short period.

But readings from the battlefronts from the Wanni, very clearly indicates that LTTE is preparing for a major military strategy to bring defame on the Security Forces.

As this column indicated, Madhu which is considered to be one of the highly regarded sacred areas in the country, is just a few kilometres away from the troops. The situation still remains the same despite ground troops taking strategic moves to move further into Tiger territory.

Extremely careful

It was not because the troops are unable to move into the territory flushing out the Tiger cadres from the Madhu shrine area but troops have been extremely careful in dealing with the situation as chances are very high for the LTTE to launch a massive campaign against the Security Force if they fall into a trap of the LTTE.

The most recent developments in Madhu indicates that the LTTE is trying to provoke the Security Forces by directing mortar attack on the advancing troops using the mortar positions located within the Madhu No Fire Zone.

Barrages of 80 mm mortars have been directed at the Security Forces during the past few weeks causing casualties to ground troops. But at every stage troops have been careful enough to prevent from launching retaliatory fire to neutralise these mortar fires which have been located within the Madhu shrine area.

It was with this backdrop the troops slowed down the advance towards Madhu and taken diversionary tactics to cut off the supply routes to Madhu from Palampiddi side in the North, which links Madhu with the LTTE administrative and logistic bases in Kilinochchi.

Three battalions of the 571 Brigade under the Command of Colonel Ravipriya is heading towards Palampiddi and are now operating from two to three Kilometres off from Palampiddi.

Ground sources also confirmed that these troops have advanced some two kilometres towards Palampiddi without any major resistance from the LTTE indicating that the LTTE is no longer interested in this ground as they have to block troop advance from two major fronts in Weli Oya and Mannar.

This will ensure a smooth fall of the Madhu shrine area into Security Forces control, but there is no 100 percent guarantee that the LTTE would give up the ground without making a huge uproar over this highly sensitive area.

But the LTTE has been compelled to protect their major assets in the Mullaitivu sector including the famously known 14 Base in Mullaitivu jungles and also to keep logistic supplies open for the Wanni battle ground by protecting the North Western coast in the North of Mannar, specially Vidathalthivu and Nachchikudah Sea Bases.

The LTTE has to keep Vidathalthivu under its control since it facilitate the smooth logistic support via Mannar islands and also Nachchikudah to keep its life line open from the Indian side to facilitate the flow of logistic support via the Indian border.

Tiger leader Prabhakaran is aware, he can delay the fall of these logistic bases to the Security Forces taking the cover of the bad weather conditions prevailing in the Wanni, but cannot prevent the troops advance forever.

That was why the Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had a clandestine talk with one of the senior TNA MPs - Mawai Senathirajah - as he met the group of TNA MPs who attended the funeral of Sivanesan at a clandestine location in Kilinochchi.

Though it was not clear what exactly the Tiger leader Prabhakaran had conveyed to TNA MP Mawai Senathiraja, it is abundantly clear that the LTTE is moving towards a political process to come out of this current mess they are facing in the Wanni battlefront.

It will obviously be based on a campaign against the Security Forces and the Government on Human Rights issues, since it is the most sensitive issue that can be used to prevent flow of funds from international donors to the projects initiated by the Government.

Major blunder

The TNA MPs have been instructed to raise Human Rights issues locally and internationally and with diplomatic missions to create adverse effects on the Government and the Security Forces.

However, the Government is effectively facing this situation responding to the international queries on Human Rights issues convincing the international community about the difficult circumstances the Security Forces had to act in the process of eliminating terrorism.

But the major blunder the LTTE is making this time is that they cannot cover up its own Human Rights record as witnessed by the TNA MPs during their visit to the Wanni to attend the funeral of MP Sivanesan.

Though these MPs play to the tune of the LTTE, personally they are worried about the current plight of the civilians entrapped in the Wanni as they are fast losing the basic facilities with Tiger cadres grabbing all available resources in Wanni to feed its cadres.

These MPs have also observed the way the LTTE has invaded almost all the hospitals in Kilinochchi to treat their wounded cadres depriving the civilians of their right to have free health care facilities at the Kilinochchi hospital with medical supplies sent by the Government.

Apart from this, the intensified recruitment drive carried out by the LTTE demanding two members from a family of more than five members to fight the war against the Security Forces, has also become a severe burden on the civilian population so reluctantly living in Wanni.

The most alarming factor is that the LTTE is trying its best to keep its well-trained Tiger strength; they are making use of these civilians as canon fodder. As we repeatedly highlighted in this column, the international community should be vigilant of this situation as the LTTE has already put the lives of civilians at a risk by forcibly deploying them to man forward defences in the Wanni battlefronts.

Bitter truth

The bitter truth is that these civilians are eagerly waiting to flee from the uncleared areas in Wanni seeking refuge of the Security Forces.

The arrival of 17 civilians from Mullaitivu last Sunday to Pulmudai area was an early sign about the people's desire to flee from the Tiger grip in Wanni.

So far they have displayed their eagerness to cross into Security Forces controlled areas after braving the Tiger guns pointed at them and also difficult circumstances they have come across during their way towards cleared areas.

The thing one cannot understand is that why people cannot defy the Tiger rule and come to cleared areas through Omanthai entry exit point which is open for the public on week days.

The international community raising queries about the Human Rights situation in Sri Lanka never challenged the LTTE on the issue of freedom of movement of the civilians entrapped in the Wanni.

People are still living there in Wanni, even under difficult circumstances as the LTTE is forcibly keeping them without allowing them to move out of Wanni with the whole family. They keep their children, to make sure those who are leaving Wanni are returned. Otherwise the entire Wanni would have been a deserted land if they were given the freedom to move to places of their choice.

However, there are lots of indications that they will not tolerate this for a long period and would flee Wanni grabbing the first opportunity they get to achieve their goal.

So once again it is incumbent on the Tamil Diaspora living across the globe to see that their fellow Tamil population is free from harassments of the LTTE and make sure their freedom of movement is ensured by the LTTE.

Unfair criticism

The international community too should take this situation seriously without making unfair criticism on the action taken by the Security Forces and the Police to curb terror plans of the LTTE aiming the civilian population living out of the embattled North.

What they should consider, at this decisive moment, is the way in which the LTTE is trying to hoodwink the international community in achieving its final goal as all these tactics are aimed at brokering another peace deal with the Government to shift towards another Ceasefire.

All the international figures presently touring Sri Lanka directly or indirectly involved in the brokering game of peace with the LTTE, as the LTTE is in dire need of international community sympathy to get out of the current unfavourable situation for them.

They are badly struggling to get the international community on their side to justify their cause.

But the international community and the Tamil Diaspora whether they like it or not should do the correct stock taking at a time the Government is making a humble and sincere effort to see that the Tamil community of this country is enjoying the all democratic rights like the people living in other parts of the country.

In this process the Government made a giant step by conducting the Batticaloa Local polls in a free and fair manner and finally all the 101 elected Members to the nine Local Government bodies took their oaths in front of the President.

LTTE Agenda

As this column highlighted last year those who worked according to the agenda of the LTTE is badly struggling to cover up their blunder by making unwarranted and baseless allegations. The UNP should at least have the backbone to accept their mistake without becoming a joke in the eyes of the intellectual minds of the people.

They have once again raised the issue of shifting of the Special Task Force camps from the Ampara district as a reason to justify their argument. But it seems that the UNP has arrived at this conclusion disregarding the fact that the Army troops are going to take over the control of the areas vacated by the STF in the East.

The military strategy is to deploy these well-trained STF personnel to protect the area in Yakavetunuwewa and Janakapura which has now turned into a major battlefront in the Wanni. So the UNP leadership should be mindful of the situation without making premature statements regarding new security arrangements in the East in the pre-election period.

But one thing is obvious that all these political manoeuvrings are aimed at one direction, that is to salvage the LTTE from the pending defeat in the Wanni.

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