Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prabhakaran | Calm before the storm?

“The second coming of Prabhakaran is possible through fable and legend in the form of fairy tale and folklore, mime and music.”

-Asian Tribune (After Prabhakaran - what next?)

The media in Sri Lanka has already started to write off the LTTE supremo. The government has started to blow its victory trumpet and the neighbours (India) are clamouring for his head… All this even before the man is caught! All this even before the fight has touched the finishing line. No doubt, the Sri Lankan government has hit the LTTE where it hurts the most, but in the past Prabhakaran and his men had always managed to bounce back and take on the government more strongly than before. Says a report in the Hindustan Times, “The pattern of warfare in the last 18 months show that LTTE was not in the fight to challenge the (Sri Lankan) army or to regain lost territory…”

For 30 years, the Sri Lankan government failed to make Prabhakaran bite the dust. Will he allow them to this time? Can Prabhakaran bounce back? According to Colonel R Hariharan, a military intelligence specialist, “Prabhakaran’s unique strength is his doggedness to reach for his goal, so he will put every ounce of his strength to bounce back”. The LTTE was dislodged from Jaffna in 1996 and it was felt that the group would be knocked down soon. But it soon launched operation Oyadha Alaigal to retrieve lost territories, including Kilinochchi and was successful. The process is not going to be easy for Prabhakaran this time.

International Opinion
The global and national environments have changed after 9/11. The LTTE, led by Prabhakaran, then was the voice of minority Tamils in the eyes of the international community. Today it is a terrorist organization in the eyes of nearly 37 nations. But many states like Canada, China, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy and Norway have continued contact with the LTTE. International organizations like Asian Development Bank, World Bank and many UN Agencies also established contact with the LTTE after the 2002 ceasefire. In his annual Heroes’ Day speech, Prabhakaran time and again says that the international community has isolated him and in the same breath he also appeals to them for help. According to B Raman, Director, Institute of Topical Studies, “Prabhakaran continues to live in a make-believe world of his own, nursing an illusion that the international opinion might once again change…”

The LTTE still has large stocks of weapons and ammunition, but lacks manpower, according to former Eastern commander Karuna. The leader himself had said sometime back in Indian magazine Nakkeeran, “It is the Sinhalese forces that are facing severe losses while attacking us. The Sinhalese government has strategically censored the truth. …Our military power remains strong as always”. If the pro-LTTE parties are to be believed, the LTTE has kept its losses to minimum and they are saving their men and arms to fight another day. “Was there anybody in town (Kilinochchi) when they (Sri Lankan forces) entered? There was no LTTE casualty. All they captured was land,” Tamil National Alliance MP K Pathmanathan was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times. But according to Hariharan, it will be difficult for Prabhakaran now to ensure a steady supply of arms to continue his fight. “LTTE which has a modern weapons system procures its arms from countries like Ukraine, Cambodia and North Korea. The marine sea routes through which their arms are smuggled in are no longer porous.”

The Sri Lankan government
The Sri Lankan state, all these years has miserably failed to give Tamils a feeling of security, a sense of ownership. There is sea of difference between what the government and politicians promise to Tamilians and what they do. It is one of the prime reasons that can yet again help Prabhakaran to bounce back. Militarily, Prabhakaran may be at his weakest, but Tamil nationalism may help him bounce back.

The Tamil diaspora
Through the years of war and peace, Prabhakaran had built a strong international network of supporters who had helped finance LTTE war effort. But now there are new voices in the Tamil diaspora rising against Prabhakaran's ruthless regime and his violence. The stringent international anti-terror protocols are making it tough for external support to reach the LTTE. The above discussion concludes that to bounce back Prabhakaran would need to do a major overhaul of his strategies. He would need to secure his assets from further loss and would need to regroup and reorganize his cadres. He would need to infuse young blood in his team. To win over the trust of diaspora, Prabhakaran will have to be more democratic and accommodating to others’ opinion.


Vikram Kilpady said...

One can't write Prabhakaran off. He has the ability to come back and amuse his foes. How will he do this is to be seen.

Baskaran said...

Prabhakaran is the icon of the tamil hearts and he will bounce back very soon to save the tamil people from the hands of the singhalese terrorists.

Anuj Dhar said...

From the details I am reading, it looks like time is up for the LTTE.

The stakes for India are rather high here and we must see to it that the Tamils are not exploited in post-war scenario.