by Taraki, September 5, 2004
An important question arises when we look at the military balance in SriLanka. Though the LTTE maintains its military strength on par with Sri Lankan Army (SLA), any military intervention by a foreign country which does not sympathise with the Tamils, can easily tilt the balance in favour of the Sri Lankan Government. (SLG) This question would have arisen in the minds of readers who read our analysis last week. This complex peace process issue was pointed out by us many times when the UNP was in power.
The Cease Fire Agreement ( CFA) is the basis for the current peace environment prevailing in SL. The Military balance between the SLA and the LTTE is the foundation for this CFA. If this balance is tilted in favor of either of the parties, the CFA will be hard to maintain. Therefore, in this respect, any Defense Treaty signed between a foreign country and SL, before a negotiated permanent settlement is reached between the LTTE and the SLG, will affect the military balance. The LTTE strongly opposed the many attempts made by the UNP Government to enter into a Defense Treaty with the US and India, when the peace talks were going on. The reason was that such treaties will affect the military balance and thus the CFA.
Because of the current military balance alone, the SLG has given up their traditional idea of the need for military action against the Tamils and are interested in a political solution. This is the view of Sri Lanka watchers from many foreign countries including India. If the SLG, and the Sinhala Buddhist supremacists behind it, believe firmly that the military balance is in their favour, then they will retreat from offering any political solution acceptable to the Tamil people. Only some foreign countries have not failed to understand this hard fact.
We have to focus on the fact that the UNP Government did not show the same urgency and expediency with the peace talks as they did with trying to sign that Access and Cross Servicing Agreement with the US. Similarly, Ranil's government made a great effort to sign a Defence Treaty with India. The same efforts are being continued by Chandrika's Government.
After the "Gini... "[Agni Kheela battle of 2001] defeat, the Sinhala Nation has realised they cannot tilt the military balance in their favour with their own effort. Now they strongly believe that only with the help of foreign military involvement can they weaken the LTTE's current military strength. The Sinhala nation is studiously acting along that line now. Sinhalese Leaders are now not showing the same interest in finding a political solution as they are to signing defence treaties with foreign countries. Tamils should not have any confusion in understanding these hard facts.
Since the Sinhala nation strongly believes in foreign military intervention to have an upper hand over Tamils, a critical stage has come, where we the Tamil community has to analyse and find out if there will be any possibility of foreign involvement. If so, what measures do we have to take and how can we prevent such a difficult situation arising?
At this juncture we have to note one thing. Since the British left this island, the only constitutional change brought by the Sinhalese political leaders in the last 56 years, to grant at least half-baked self-rule to the Tamils, is the 13th Amendment. Though the 13th Amendment gave a bland, pseudo self-rule, the implementation of the Amendment needed pressure from the presence of the Indian Air Aorce, combined with pressure from various Tamil liberation organizations. If we analyse these historical facts we can realise the importance of military balance.
The reason for the agreement in principle for the withdrawal of the SL Armed Forces from the schools,temples & churches, hospitals, private houses, paddy fields & farmlands and the reason for agreeing to temporarily suspend the Prevention of Terrorism Act which took away the freedom and normal life of the Tamil-speaking people for the last 25 years, is solely due to the military balance achieved in April 2001. Thus, again, we have to look at the withdrawal by correlating it to the historical facts mentioned earlier.
If we look accordingly, we would arrive at the conclusion that, only if we tilt the military balance in favour of the Tamils, will the Sinhala Nation come for a talk with us to agree and implement an equitable political solution.
The undeniable fact which emerges from the period starting from the date of signing of the CFA to date is: The current military balance reached in April 2001 has only weakened the Sinhala Nation's belief that there is a solution to the ethnic issue through war. But it has not transformed the Sinhala nation's conscience for them to think seriously about granting a just political solution acceptable to the Tamil-speaking people.
Therefore, if we have to create a mindset among the Sinhala nation, that they have no choice but to grant a just political solution acceptable to Tamil people, then there is a compulsion for the Tamils to take an upper hand in the military balance. There is no doubt this will become more clear in the near future.
If the Tamils' military strength is what is necessry to push the Sinhala nation to move towards a political solution, then the Tamils' traditional homeland areas occupied by the LTTE may have to be extended by necessity.
If the Sinhala nation drags the peace process indefinitely, the LTTE will be compelled to do the above. If the LTTE is compelled to do that, with that as an excuse, the Sinhala Buddhists supremacists will try to tilt the military balance permanently in their favour, with full or limited support from foreign military intervention. These Sinhala Buddhist supremacists have started doing their calculations along these lines already.
In this current situation, the Tamil nation has been forced into a dilemma will result in a historical turning point. That is, if we shift the military balance in our favour and compel the Sinhala nation to move towards a just political solution, then that move could result in Sinhala supremacists using it as a trap against us. That is the dilemma we face today.
If such an unavoidable historical compulsion happens, the Sinhala supremacists would not fail to try to use foreign military intervention to push back our liberation struggle by many years or even permanently crush our strength and ability to engage in political negotiations. We have to take these facts under consideration.
The Sinhala nation is going to continue with the current stalemate in the peace process for an indefinite period. This is evident from the 99% telltale signs that have been emerging. In such a current situation, how are we going to evaluate the above-said political cum military trap and find an effective solution to destroy such a trap? This is what each and every one of us has to analyse because in the future it is going to seriously affect the lives of each and every one of us either directly or indirectly.
In view of the above, there are three issues we have to analyse in depth :
1. To what extent will India militarily intervene/interfere, if the current military balance tilts substantially in favour of the Tamils side?
2. To what extent or what is the possibility of the US and its allies interfering in support of the SLG, in case India does not interfere in a situation mentioned above in 1?
3. What asymmetrical deterrence capability does the Tamils side have to dissuade any foreign country from militarily interfering in support of the SLG ?
We shall look into the above issues in the coming weeks.
Translation from the Tamil by M. Thiru
Posted September 14, 2004