Sri Lanka: Rebels Reeling

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October 10, 2006: Only a year ago it seemed that the LTTE was unstoppable, and would succeed in partitioning the island. But now the LTTE is on the ropes, and there are several good reasons why. First, the LTTE is weaker, because of the tsunami of late 2004 and the rebellion of the LTTE forces in eastern Sri Lanka (about a third of LTTE strength). The tsunami did enormous damage to the Tamil population, and LTTE naval forces. It was one of the reasons for the east Sri Lanka LTTE factions to rebel. There developed another major dispute within the LTTE, between the political and military wings, over the goals of the organization. While all this was going on, the Sri Lankan government had gotten its act together. The armed forces were in better shape, and Sri Lankan diplomats had finally convinced the rest of the world that the LTTE was a terrorist organization that was raising money for terrorism under the guise of doing charitable work. So the nations of the world began to treat the LTTE like terrorists, and the money stopped flowing. So did the weapons, which the money bought, and the freedom to operate overseas that made purchasing them possible. Over a decade of fighting, without much to show for it, had also hurt morale within the LTTE, and the Tamil community. While the LTTE extremists wanted to keep fighting, they were a shrinking minority. The big question is, can the government win a lasting victory, and not just antagonize the Tamils to the point that the seeds for another generation of conflict are planted.
October 8, 2006: Both sides say they are restraining themselves, although the government says it is basically advancing at every opportunity, as LTTE control weakens. But the LTTE fears that the army is preparing for a major advance in the northeast, in order to split rebel held territory. The LTTE also fears that the army supports the LTTE rebel faction in east Sri Lanka, a faction which is not abiding by a ceasefire.
October 6, 2006: Heavy fighting broke out in the northeast between the army and the LTTE, and in eastern Sri Lanka between the LTTE and LTTE rebels. Several hundred casualties, mainly LTTE, were suffered. Off the coast, six LTTE boats were sunk, and the air force bombed LTTE camps and fortifications.
October 4, 2006: The government and LTTE have agreed to hold peace talks on October 28-30. Meanwhile, the fighting will continue.

 

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