Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Water Gate Strategy

by Chandi Sinnathurai, August 7, 2006

"Terrorism is the war of the poor and
war is the terrorism of the rich."

-- Peter Ustinov

Mavil Aru sluice gate location August 2006 The Mavil Aru water supply incident seem to have its intricate twists and turns. The sudden “U-turn by the LTTE” in opening the sluice, as it is described by some observers, have added a puzzling dimension to the developing story.

Many in the Diaspora were very enthusiastic to learn about the capture of 17 SL military camps, including the town of Muthur. Some were expecting this defensive operation by the LTTE (as a result of aerial bombings on civilans in this area) would lead to them re-claiming Trincomalee town with its geo-strategic military assets.  In other words, the LTTE was expected to over-run Trinco. In which case, interacting through Diplomatic channels with India ought to have been on the cards owing to the Indian installations in Trinco.

On the contrary, the LTTE leader decided to return to the original CFA territorial-lines honouring the agreement made with the international community.

An excerpt from the 06 August LTTE press release reads as follows:

"While respecting international concern over the water issue at Mavilaru, the LTTE wishes to reiterate that it is the GoSL that complicated the situation by military intervention while the LTTE District Leadership and the people of the area had genuine intentions to address their drinking water problem and economic embargo even on essentials. The GoSL’s military intervention was totally in contravention of the CFA as the LTTE and the villagers were engaged in a discussion with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to reach an agreement to open the water gates through negotiated means. The LTTE has agreed to urge the Mavilaru villagers, who were frustrated over the inaction and discriminatory attitude of the GoSL, to engage in a constructive discussion with the SLMM to open the water gate."

It is only right that one asks the question whether the LTTE decision to leave Muthur was based on a cunning "strategic retreat."

There are others who wonder, however, whether this was just a show of strength and capability of the LTTE for Colombo's benefit.   More importantly though, the LTTE has actually engaged the air-assets and capability of the SLAF.[Sri Lanka Armed Forces].

Did the LTTE make this retreat because in Jaffna the Sri Lankan Aarmy was increasing their military assets and manpower? Perhaps not.

Questions are being asked whether the LTTE is really capable of launching counter attacks by using low-flying aircrafts. Some reports suggest they are capable of such attacks.

Why did they not engage in a defensive measure when the civilians were bombarded by Kfir jets? Does the LTTE have anti-aircraft defense assets?

Was this a tactical retreat because there was an "international dimension" to the conflict?  Perhaps behind-the-scenes pressure was brought to bear by the US and India?

Your guess is as good as mine.

It is said, even after the LTTE deciding to open the water gates, the SL aerial bombing is continuing.  The Norwegian envoy had to take cover from SL aerial bombing, we are told, while at disussion about the water gate.

Hendriksson and Elilan sheltering in a bunker from SLA bombardment August 2006








Mr.Henricsson with Mr.Elilan at the entrance to a bunker to escape SLA artillery fire

Colombo is determined to tear up the Ceasefire Agreement [CFA].

The water dispute might end soon one way or the other. But it looks as though, the thread-bare CFA might NOT hold these warring parties apart for too long. Only time will tell whether this will develop into a series of skirmishes or even worse into a decalration of war!


Dedicated to 17 NGO humanitarian workers (Action Contre La Faim) murdered by Sri Lanka Forces in Muthur.

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