Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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New Delhi & the Tamil Struggle

by TamilNation, 24 Jan. 2007

The death of Rajiv Gandhi could well have occurred in the hands of the Singhalese terrorist who was serving in the GOSL navy when he hit Gandhi with the gun on his head, to splatter his brains on Singhala soil. Fortunately for the Singhalese, his attempt to murder the Indian Prime Minister failed, and that incident alone saved Sri Lanka becoming a two-nation island with Indian troops already in the NorthEast.

"...The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population, in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population. The protection of the population depends on the progressive destruction of the enemy's military potential. It is relative to the overall balance of forces: the populace will be completely safe when the opposing forces are completely defeated... By restricting itself to the task of protecting civilians or passive self-defence, the guerrilla unit ceases to be the vanguard of the people as a whole and deprives itself of a national perspective... By choosing to operate at this level, it may be able to provide protection for the population for a limited time. But in the long run the opposite is true: self-defence undermines the security of the civilian population... limiting oneself to passive defence is to place oneself in the position of being unable to protect the population and to expose one's own forces to attrition. On the other hand, to seek for ways to attack the enemy is to put him on the permanent defensive to exhaust him and prevent him from expanding his activities, to wrest the initiative from him, and to impede his search operations..."

-- Regis Debray, Revolution in the Revolution?

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LTTE Avoids Battle of Attrition in the East

by B.Raman, additional Secretary (retd.), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai
22 January 2007


Territorial control where possible; withdrawal where necessary.

2. That has been the tactics being followed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka where the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, with the help of the trained cadres of "Col" Karuna, the former LTTE Commander for Batticaloa, have mounted an offensive since September last year in an attempt to eject the LTTE from the Eastern Province. Karuna, who had deserted from the LTTE in March, 2004, following differences with its leader Prabhakaran, has since then been co-operating with the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their counter-insurgency operations in the Eastern Province.

3. For an insurgent organisation, territorial control is an advantage, but not necessary. Territory lost today, can be re-gained tomorrow. But, trained and motivated cadres lost today cannot be easily replaced tomorrow. That is the logic, which dictates the conventional tactics of all insurgent organisations. One saw it during the Algerian war of independence. One has been seeing it in Afghanistan since the US military intervention----since upgraded into a NATO intervention--- started on October 7, 2001.
Faced with the overwhelming superiority of the US forces, the Taliban decided to cede territorial control and withdraw its men from Kabul, Kandahar and other places instead of getting involved in a frontal confrontation with the better armed, but not better motivated American forces. Its priority was the preservation of the hard core of its trained fighters in order to be able to strike back at a place and time of its choice. That is what it has been doing since the beginning of last year---with a mix of suicide terrorism and set-piece conventional battles.
The Taliban knows that its lack of an anti-aircraft capability would rule out spectacular victories against the NATO and Afghan Government forces and the capture and occupation of territory. Its aim is, therefore, to keep the NATO forces bleeding, disrupt the economy and bring about battle fatigue in the ranks of the NATO forces. It is calculating that time and ground realities are on its side and that ultimately the NATO forces would realise that their counter-insurgency operations are faced with the law of diminishing returns.

4. Since September last year, the LTTE, faced with the superiority of the Pakistan-assisted Sri Lankan Armed Forces, has ceded territorial control in its two bastions in the Eastern Province--- Sampur in the Trincomallee area and Vaharai in the Batticaloa area. It withdrew from Vaharai on January 19, 2007. Sampur and Vaharai were not captured by the joint forces of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the soldiers of Karuna after a face-to-face battle with the LTTE. After a prolonged exchange of artillery fire, the LTTE decided to withdraw from there in order to preserve its hard core of fighters, with experience of conventional warfare and with knowledge of the terrain in the Eastern Province. Its withdrawal enabled the Army and Karuna's soldiers to move in.

5. The withdrawal from Sampur and Vaharai has been a tactical set-back for the LTTE, but is not a strategic territorial victory of any major significance for the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. The real gains for the Armed Forces are more psychological than territorial. These are an improvement in morale and self-confidence, which are important factors in any counter-insurgency operations. The LTTE continues to be as resilient as before, but is no longer as innovative as before. The strength of an insurgent organisation comes from the unpredictability of its moves on the ground, which keeps its adversary constantly off balance. In the past, the LTTE earned a legendary reputation as an insurgent organisation because of its unpredictable operational tactics. These have now been blunted---after the desertion of Karuna--- and this is coming in the way of the effectiveness of its actions.

6. The recent operations of the LTTE and its political actions have once again called into question the qualities of leadership of Prabakaran. His leadership has been consistently marked since 1990 by an erratic and irrational streak. One saw it in the LTTE's brutal assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Laxman Kadirgamar, the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, in 2005, and in his humiliation of Karuna. The LTTE has been paying a heavy price for these erratic and irrational actions of Prabakaran. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi cost it the support of the Indian people, including the people of Tamil Nadu. The assassination of Kadirgamar marked the beginning of the end of international sympathy for the organisation. The humiliation of Karuna has deprived it of the services of its most talented conventional commander.

7. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Hezbollah in the Lebanon, the LTTE follows a mix of conventional and unconventional (terrorism) operational tactics. The desertion of Karuna has definitely dented its conventional capability. Prabakaran does not understand conventional tactics. He is essentially a terrorist leader, who can think only in terms of acts of suicide terrorism. The post-9/11 world is still prepared to tolerate organisations, which use conventional methods of fighting for achieving political objectives, but not those who rely on terrorism.

8. An organisation headed by a leader, who understands only terrorism, is unlikely to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the international community. Prabakaran is a liability for the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Tamils in the post-9/11 world. The time has come for the LTTE leaders and the Sri Lankan Tamils---including their overseas diaspora--- to do an introspection on their future course of action. If they have to preserve the gains made by thousands of their cadres since 1983, they have to find a new leadership.

9. Prabakaran is no longer the man of the future. He is passed. He has become a liability for the Tamil cause. The sooner the Sri Lankan Tamils realise it, the better for them.

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A Response to B.Raman
Pirabakharan will always be the Tamil Leader

by Donald Jayantha Gnanakone
24 January 2007


Dear Mr. Raman,

The sole representatives of the Tamils, the LTTE, and its leader Velupillai Pirabhakaran, will never be replaced by any other Tamil, including the coolies and "traitors" created by RAW and other Indians.

You Indians now take the attitude of "Holier, than Thou" hypocrisy, after setting up the Tamils in the eighties (1982 -1989), making deliberately false promises with self-interested and ulterior motives. It is a fact the RAW and Delhi provided assistance and military training during this period to Tamil Quisling groups, with some ulterior motives of disruption. Did you people in the Indian military think that such Tamil quisling groups had any chance of destabilizing the JR GOSL and winning the rights of the Tamil people?

Why don't you address such issues, which the Delhi Congress Party and GOI were involved in, which created a lot of unnecessary terrorist actions which put the GOSL and its armed forces on alert? Why don't you admit the "stupid mistakes" of Delhi in the handling of Tamil militant groups, which turned out to be Indian quisling groups under Rajiv Gandhi's command and control in later years?

It was the IPKF and J N Dixit's action of allowing the Tamil leadership to die - with Thileepan fasting to death, and 12 LTTE leaders being handed over to the GOSL - that created the India-Tamil war. Gandhi is also responsible for the murders, deaths, rapes, and suffering of thousands of innocent Tamils in the North-East. Who gave them that right to kill the Tamils?

That crime, I agree, does not justify the killing of any Indian politician once he is out of power.

But, as they say in this imperfect world, everything is fair in love and war. Rajiv Gandhi and the GOI did not deliver what they promised to the Tamils in 1987, and this war has continued for another 20 years. So do not try to act as if India does not have unclean hands. Their hands are equally bloody as the Singhalese, although after the death of Rajiv Gandhi the GOI began a new "hands off" policy.

Nevertheless, the GOI was responsible for surrounding an LTTE ship, which was bringing one of its best leaders back home, Kittu Krishnakumar. Kittu did the most honorable thing by committing suicide without being captured by the Indian navy, which had no business taking such action in international waters.

So, please do remember that India has been responsible for the deaths of over 25 Tamil leaders, including complicity in the tragic affairs of Mahattya and Karuna, which has caused so much pain and suffering to the Tamils and the LTTE.

There is no perfect liberation organization in the world. LTTE has been betrayed on many occasions by the GOI. It is human to err and divine to forgive.

Pirabhakaran has been the Tamil leader for nearly 30 years, and despite the fact that his goal has not been accomplished, he has brought respect, hope and dignity to the Tamils worldwide. That the Tamils in Colombo are safe today without race riots and attempted genocide is purely due to the "fear factor" of the LTTE and not the generosity of either the GOI or GOSL. They even had to fight the entire Indian armed forces for 2 years and it is simply a miracle that they were able to survive and in some ways claim victory.

The LTTE has had to fight and counter not one government, but 2 in the past 20 years, which has been a great challenge.

India has assisted the GOSL in many ways in the past 20 years. What has India done for the Tamils? Look at yourself in the mirror and and be honest and answer that question.

You write so profusely, and write well. Please look at the other side of the coin, and understand the Tamil point of view. Tamils are not India's enemy, nor do they have any intention of disturbing the status quo in Tamil Nadu.

We Tamils in Sri Lanka share so much with India by way of language, culture, heritage, and much more. Above all 80 per cent of the Tamils are Hindus, and we worship the same god.

The death of Rajiv Gandhi could well have occurred in the hands of the Singhalese terrorist who was serving in the GOSL navy when he hit Gandhi with the gun on his head, to splatter his brains on Singhala soil. Fortunately, for the Singhalese his attempt to murder the Indian Prime Minister failed, and that incident alone saved Sri Lanka becoming a two-nation island with Indian troops already in the NorthEast.

Tamils will change their leaders if need be, and we do not need any help from India on that score. Please understand that point of view very clearly, as we in NE Sri Lanka do not interfere when India chooses its own leaders, even if they are not Indians, or when Tamil Nadu chooses its leaders.

Since India has been an integral part of the Tamil liberation struggle, with Tamil Nadu leaders like Chief Minister M G Ramachandran and Indian PM Indira Gandhi providing valuable support to the LTTE in the eighties and until their untimely deaths, India has a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to assist the Tamils so that they can live, develop, and prosper in their Tamil homeland with self-respect and dignity.

Thank You.