government has banned one of the major suppliers of foreign relief, the Tamil
Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). This organization was founded 22 years ago
to assist Tamils fleeing the fighting in Sri Lanka. The TRO raises much of its
cash from Sri Lankan Tamils who have settled in the West, but also receives aid
money from Western countries and aid organizations. Recently, however, evidence
has piled up that the TRO has passed on cash and goods to the LTTE. As a
result, the U.S. has banned TRO fund raising, and other Western countries are
following suit. This means less cash and goodies for the LTTE to distribute,
which leads to fewer Tamils feeling beholden to the LTTE.
In the north, the last LTTE controlled area on the island, is under
regular attack by army commandos. Thousands of Tamils are fleeing LTTE
controlled areas to get away from expected violence (when the army arrives). At
sea, navy patrols are finding fewer LTTE boats operating. The LTTE fleet still
exists, but in much smaller numbers than a year ago.
The renewed fighting has left
about 5,000 dead in the past two years, and nearly 20,000 casualties overall.
The government has basically laid siege to the LTTE controlled territory in the
north. There, the LTTE have a formidable force of several thousand experienced
fighters, and many more Tamils conscripted into a militia force. The core LTTE
fighters are dangerous, but they cannot cover the entire front. This makes it
possible for the army to successfully attack LTTE bunkers held by less resolute
fighters, and win. But if the LTTE first team shows up, the fighting is more
intense. The LTTE has not been able to carry out a lot of commando and
terrorist attacks outside their own territory, but they keep trying.
The LTTE is still controlled
by diehards who will not make peace for anything less than partition of the
island. That has been rejected by the majority Sinhalese. At the same time, the
Sinhalese population is growing tired of the years of violence, and the
expense. The defense budget keeps going up, and every time the LTTE violence
increases (like in the last two years) fewer tourists arrive, and there's a
decline in foreign investment. The Sinhalese population may demand a major
offensive to crush the LTTE. That could get very bloody.