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Old 10-16-2008   #21
Jedburgh
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ICG, 15 Oct 08: Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province: Land, Development, Conflict
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....The province is Sri Lanka’s most ethnically complex region and has been at the heart of post-independence conflicts. It features a Tamil-speaking majority split equally between ethnic Tamils and Muslims, as well as a sizeable Sinhala minority who mostly moved there from the south under state irrigation and resettlement schemes. Lying at the intersection of competing Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms, the east has seen some of the worst of Sri Lanka’s inter-ethnic violence and remains at risk for more.

For Tamil nationalists, the province is an integral part of the Tamil homeland, but has been subject to deliberate state attempts to change the ethnic balance and undermine its Tamil character. The October 2006 Supreme Court decision to separate the Eastern from the Northern Province, temporarily merged under the terms of the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord, and subsequent provincial council elections in May 2008 were a major blow to Tamil nationalists. For Sinhala nationalists, the province should be equally open to all Sri Lankans, and its hundreds of ancient Buddhist sites and rich Sinhala cultural heritage should be defended and preserved. The east is also home to an emergent Muslim nationalism, largely a product of Muslims’ insecurity relative to Tamil armed groups and the Sinhala-dominated government.....
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Old 10-31-2008   #22
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Default LTTE Air Ops

I have to admit that I don't know much about this conflict, but the news reports of the LTTE "navy" and "Air Force" are fascinating. Here's the latest:

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The air wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried out two attacks within an interval of about 90 minutes on a military target in the North and an economic target in Colombo on the night of October 28,2008. This is the seventh operation by the LTTE's air wing since it went into action in March last year.
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Old 05-17-2009   #23
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Default Sri Lanka rebels offer to lay down arms

http://apnews.myway.com//article/200...D987V6VO0.html

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May 17, 7:22 AM (ET)

By BHARATHA MALLWARACHI


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - The Tamil Tiger rebels admitted defeat in their 25-year-old war with the Sri Lankan government Sunday, offering to lay down their guns as government forces swept across their last strongholds in the northeast.

The government rejected the last-ditch call for a cease-fire, saying the thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone all have escaped to safety and there was no longer any reason to stop the battle. The military said the remaining guerrillas were still fighting.
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Old 05-17-2009   #24
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Big story, and one which deserves more attention and analysis than it has received: 26 year civil war and 80,000+ dead.
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Old 05-17-2009   #25
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It will be interesting to see what direction the Tamil nationalist movement goes from here. Hopefully the Tigers will be destroyed as an organization, which will allow more moderate and peaceful Tamil movements to grow. Just as importantly, the Rajapakse government needs to allow those movements political space. Long-term peace should be the goal, not just the destruction of a pack of terrorists.
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Old 05-18-2009   #26
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Big story, and one which deserves more attention and analysis than it has received: 26 year civil war and 80,000+ dead.
Especially when, after the recent offensive, the UN does not launch a "war crimes" investigation, and journalists aren't being paid and despatched by NGOs to "gather" evidence.
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Old 05-18-2009   #27
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Default Where was it, where does it go next

In many ways I think this will be a classic case study on how wage a civil war / counterinsurgency. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have waged a very interesting conflict against the government of Sri Lanka. I don't recall reading about any other conflict that is remotely similiar in scope.

The LTTE were among the first to develop cadres of suicide bombers (Black Tigers), normally individuals with suicide belts/vests, but they have also vehicle bombs (it was a truck bomb that seriously damaged the financial center in Colombo), and suicide boats that were capable of outrunning most Sri Lankan naval craft.

In large pitched battles they frequently defeated conventional Sri Lankan troops, and in some battles the LTTE managed to kill several hundred Sri Lanka soldiers in one to two day battles using indirect fires and maneuver.

In the last few years the LTTE even developed their own air force of sorts, and actually conducted raids on the airport in Sri Lanka's capital creating a great deal of panic for the economy.

The Sri Lankan Tamils have large expat communities that are political active and raise considerable funds. They conducted fairly large protests recently in the UK and Canada in an effort to mobilize the international audience to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop commiting alleged atrocities in the current fight, a fight that may spell the end of the LTTE as a credible force.

Over the years this conflict has ebbed and flowed from mostly insurgent activities to realitivel large scale conventional fights, and LTTE operations have not been restricted to Sri Lanka. The government's current offensive is much different than the many they launched in previous years. Many of their previous offensives were successful until they the government couldn't sustain it, so they were unable to defeat hardcore pockets of resistance, thus they withdrew once again handing the territory they fought so hard for back to the LTTE. Obviously something has changed this time (external support?), and it appears that the Tigers will finally be defeated as a credible force. I'm sure we all hope that the LTTE is finally facing defeat, so Sri Lanka can hopefully enjoy a hard earned peace.

Questions:

1. Even if the LTTE main cadre and leadership is killed or captured, will that be the end of the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka? Certainly not if Sri Lanka is not prepared to conduct a robust effort to address the needs of their Tamil people.

2. What role will the Tamil expats play? Will they assist their people in accepting a peaceful resolution with the government, or will they attempt to subvert any peace efforts from afar?

3. Is the Sri Lankan military and government capable of winning and sustaining the peace?

The next few months will be critical.
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Old 05-18-2009   #28
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
1. Even if the LTTE main cadre and leadership is killed or captured, will that be the end of the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka? Certainly not if Sri Lanka is not prepared to conduct a robust effort to address the needs of their Tamil people.
This assumes they (the Tamils) have a legitimate grievance. Many terrorist/insurgent organisations do not have legitimate grievances, so there is nothing you can do to address them.
EG: The RUF in Sierra Leone had no legitimate grievance. The FARC have no legitimate grievance. They are just drug dealing Marxists. They may hijack the odd social issue, but that this nothing to do with their raison-d'ętre.
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- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 05-27-2009   #29
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Default How Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE

The term defeat is relative, thus it is used here only to refer to the battlefield defeat that the LTTE clearly were handed. It will take several months before we know if the defeat is complete. The LTTE diaspora is alive and well and they have already vowed to continued the fight. There are also LTTE splinter groups that were not under Prabakaran's sway that can now emerge as dominate players over time if the Sri Lankan government does not rapidly and satisfactorly address the thousands of Tamils displaced by the fighting.

Recent articles written by those who appear to have good access indicate that several factors contributed to the defeat to the LTTE, but the following seemed to be essential:

1. Strong Sri Lankan political resolve
2. External support primarily from China, both military and political
3. Joint operations
a. Naval operations to isolate the LTTE by sinking their supply ships
b. Air operations to conduct deep attack opertions (and close air support)
c. Special opertions forces conducting raids deep in LTTE territory
d. Most important militarily large scale, multi-front ground offensive where Sri Lankan Soldiers took and held ground.
4. Important split within the LTTE ranks in 2004 that the LTTE never recovered from.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8063409.stm

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Today, Sri Lanka is among the few nations that can say it has successfully quelled a nearly three-decade insurgency by military means.
This quote along is worthy of discussion.

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So many factors have contributed to the success of the Sri Lankan forces. There was a clear aim and mandate from the political level to the official level and to the military level to destroy the LTTE at any cost.
Political will and mandate

They also had international political support from China. China helped keep the UN off Sri Lanka's back, while Sri Lanka conducted aggressive military operations. These operations were viewed by many in the West as inhumane (what war isn't?) and perhaps outside the bounds of what is considered legal by the international community. It can be argued that ending the war is more humane in the long run than tying one's hands behind their back and dragging the conflict out for years. Perhaps this is a wake up call as to the true nature of war, and why so many western countries recently congratulated Sri Lanka on their success?

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A massive recruitment drive for the armed forces was launched (it increased from about 80,000 to more than 160,000 personnel). New weapons - including fighter jets, artillery guns and multi-barrel rocket launchers - were bought from countries like China, Pakistan and Russia, and new military strategies and tactics were evolved.
Sustained military build up

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Small teams of commandoes were sent behind enemy lines to carry out attacks against rebel leaders and key defence lines.
Disruption, destroy their sense of confidence

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The military also started to stretch them thin by opening up a number of fronts in the north.
Perfect application of conventional forces to take and hold the ground.

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The Tamil Tigers had no answer to the bombing missions by air force jets.
Asymmetric mismatches are always desired.

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The Sri Lankan military juggernaut cruised ahead despite mounting civilian casualties. The rebels thought the international community, especially neighbouring India, would intervene looking at the civilian suffering and bring about a ceasefire in the final stages. When that did not happen, they ran out of options
The LTTE was isolated politically and then defeated militarly.

the following is an interesting article on China's support (note the turn around in the fight started after 2004 long after most western countries withdrew their support from Sri Lanka, so China, Pakistan and Russian apparently made the biggest contributions in foreign aid and training).

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle6297463.ece

Chinese support crucial to Sri Lankan victory over Tamils

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Sri Lanka’s imminent victory over the Tamil Tigers owes much to a badly needed injection of arms and aid from China, as well as robust Chinese support at the United Nations, ever since the Government began its new offensive in 2007.
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Beijing appears, however, to have increased arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since 2007, when the US suspended military aid over human rights issues.
China's contributions were not altruistic, they want access to Sri Lankan ports so they can protect their trade lanes. They upped their aid to Sri Lanka from a few millions dollars to one billion dollars last year which must have enabled Sri Lanka to sustain their offensive against the LTTE.

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In addition, China has provided crucial diplomatic support in the UN Security Council, blocking efforts to put Sri Lanka on the agenda.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-27-2009 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 05-28-2009   #30
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Nice write-up.
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Old 05-28-2009   #31
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Bill:

This is a good laydown.

My assessment would be that the LTTE made a major strategic error in transitioning to phase III operations too soon and attempting to fight this as more of a civil war than as an insurgency. Essentially setting up the "weak state vs strong state" scenario which rarely ends well for the weaker.

Concur that the "Insurgency" is by no means defeated, but that the security forces have done their job in creating a window of opportunity for the politicos to fully address the roots of the insurgency itself. My fear is that while those who missunderstand the true nature of insurgency cheer the "victory," the very victory they are cheering will be slipping away as new leadership emerges, wiser from the recent setback, and begins anew with phase 1 activities.

Right now what the US should be doing is a full court diplomatic press on the government of Sri Lanka to close the deal. To be the bigger man. To be a Lincoln /Grant and recognize that one must be a gracious in victory as they are determined in battle.

State Department your move. Judging by your actions in our own GWOT to date, I fear you don't fully realize that though...
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Old 05-28-2009   #32
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Default I reckon Bob has nailed a sensible COA...

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Bill:

This is a good laydown.

My assessment would be that the LTTE made a major strategic error in transitioning to phase III operations too soon and attempting to fight this as more of a civil war than as an insurgency. Essentially setting up the "weak state vs strong state" scenario which rarely ends well for the weaker.

Concur that the "Insurgency" is by no means defeated, but that the security forces have done their job in creating a window of opportunity for the politicos to fully address the roots of the insurgency itself. My fear is that while those who missunderstand the true nature of insurgency cheer the "victory," the very victory they are cheering will be slipping away as new leadership emerges, wiser from the recent setback, and begins anew with phase 1 activities.

Right now what the US should be doing is a full court diplomatic press on the government of Sri Lanka to close the deal. To be the bigger man. To be a Lincoln /Grant and recognize that one must be a gracious in victory as they are determined in battle.

State Department your move. Judging by your actions in our own GWOT to date, I fear you don't fully realize that though...
And I bet that it doesn't happen. Hubris is a powerful politico/military force (as the Coalition in OIF in late '03 demonstrates...)

Cheers

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Old 05-28-2009   #33
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
My assessment would be that the LTTE made a major strategic error in transitioning to phase III operations too soon and attempting to fight this as more of a civil war than as an insurgency.
Bob, I think you make an excellent point.

... and how do you tell the difference between a civil war and an insurgency, and why does it matter?
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- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 05-28-2009   #34
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Default Sri Lankan COIN strategy---"a difficult model to adopt"

A good short article in the paper Sunday covered the fact that in the LTTE COIN, "[They] were not worried about collateral damage…So in many regards it's a very difficult model to adopt." Some great ethical and strategic debate should come from the last push of this conflict, which is being deemed as successful despite the heavy civilian casualties in the end surge. (Below is the print article with some snippets from the original author’s submission not published in the print version).

“Other lessons are either unique to Sri Lanka or would be politically unpalatable in other societies, including the high civilian and military death tolls and alleged human rights violations. The United Nations and many human rights groups repeatedly called for a cease-fire so civilians caught in the crossfire could flee the conflict area -- calls the government largely dismissed. Because Rajapaksa's base was the nation's Sinhalese majority, there was relatively little domestic pushback over the deaths and displacement of ethnic Tamil civilians. The government restricted the access of international media and independent humanitarian groups, making it difficult to report what was going on. The lesson of nonstop, no-holds-barred combat -- the army even powered on during monsoons -- was complemented by better use of small, flexible "deep penetration" special forces units, many trained by their U.S. and Indian counterparts. Dressed like the rebels, they went behind enemy lines, assassinating Tigers, crippling infrastructure in rebel-held areas and reporting target locations to the army and air force. Cutting supply lines, creating faster and more mobile special forces units, going after financing and hitting jungle hide-outs are additional strategies applicable to other insurgency battles, experts said. At the same time, the Tigers' scope made them a bigger target. For years, they parked freighters at sea and ferried arms, oil, food and other supplies into ports they controlled. In recent years, the government destroyed seven of these mother ships, reportedly with the help of satellite intelligence from India and the United States, and made better use of small, maneuverable, heavily armed "Arrow" vessels.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...,7880875.story

chicagotribune.com

Sri Lanka's defeat of the Tamil Tigers offers lessons for other countries fighting insurgencies
By Mark Magnier

Tribune Newspapers

May 24, 2009

NEW DELHI -- Sri Lanka's victory last week after a 25-year battle against the Tamil Tiger rebels represents a rare government success story in the global fight against insurgencies.

Even as leaders in Colombo declared a national holiday, military planners and analysts around the world have begun scrutinizing the war for lessons on how to fight Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other lethal militant groups.

For more than two decades, the conflict in Sri Lanka had neither side strong enough to overcome the other.

That changed three years ago, when the Sri Lankan army adopted more mobile tactics, overhauled its intelligence system, promoted young commanders and steadily hemmed in one of the world's most ruthless and innovative rebel movements. At its peak, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the Tigers are formally known, controlled one-third of the country; had its own army, a navy and nascent air force; and served as a role model for insurgencies worldwide with its pioneering use of suicide vests and female suicide bombers.

Last week, the army displayed in triumph what it said was the portly, bullet-riddled body of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Arguably the most important factor in ending the stalemate was the political will to do whatever it took. In a supreme irony, President Mahinda Rajapakse was elected in November 2005 by a 1.9 percent margin after Prabhakaran urged Tamils to boycott the election. Rajapakse made military victory over the Tamils a cornerstone of his administration and signaled to the military it could get whatever resources it wanted simply by asking.

"They did everything a general dreams of," said retired Indian Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta, a commander of the Indian peacekeeping forces in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. "Unfettered resources and no political interference."

The military budget quickly grew by 40 percent a year and the army by 70 percent to 180,000 troops as it added 3,000 a month, compared with 3,000 a year previously -- drawn largely from poor rural Sinhalese attracted by relatively high wages.

With more soldiers, the army was able to hit the Tigers on several fronts simultaneously, breaking with years of hit-or-miss operations.

"Before the army would take territory then move on, allowing the LTTE to come back," said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. "That changed, and we hit them on all four fronts so they could no longer muster all their resources into one place."

Some lessons are transferable, experts said. "Sri Lanka provides a case study," said Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.

Other lessons are either unique to Sri Lanka or would be politically unpalatable in other societies, including the high civilian and military death tolls and alleged human-rights violations. The UN and many human-rights groups, for example, repeatedly urged a cease-fire so civilians caught in the crossfire could flee the conflict area, calls the government largely dismissed.

"They were not worried about collateral damage," said Ajey Lele, a military analyst and ex-Indian wing commander. "So in many regards it's a very difficult model to adopt."
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Old 05-28-2009   #35
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Right now what the US should be doing is a full court diplomatic press on the government of Sri Lanka to close the deal. To be the bigger man. To be a Lincoln /Grant and recognize that one must be a gracious in victory as they are determined in battle.
Unfortunately I think the U.S. has little leverage over Sri Lanka at the moment, which is probably much more interested in embracing the PRC, especially given the Rajapaksa brothers' personal interest such relations. The Sri Lankan media is naturally full of denunciations of the West in general for seeking to investigate human rights violations and hinder military action, which in their view did nothing but protect the Tigers.

Quote:
... and how do you tell the difference between a civil war and an insurgency, and why does it matter?
We could spend many posts arguing over the semantics of those two words. But I agree with Bob that the Tigers made a premature transition towards establishment of a mini-state rather than remaining a mobile guerrilla-based movement. The Tigers created an infrastructure and a government base that then had to be defended in conventional battle. They invested so much into their mini-state that they could not survive its destruction at the hands of a conventional army.

Most of the failure can be laid at the feet of the Tiger leadership. They irretrievably alienated India in the 1980s through their inability to accept competing Tamil nationalist groups. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi eliminated any possibility that India would ever support a Tiger-dominated Tamil homeland, and only with Indian support could a Tamil autonomous region in Sri Lanka hope to survive in the face of determined Sri Lankan opposition.
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Old 05-31-2009   #36
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Default the character of the war changes

I"m posting a couple of links to LTTE and supporter websites to demonstrate how sophisticated their media operation is.

http://www.eelamweb.com/

http://www.tamilnet.com/

Also a link to an article on how the LTTE's defeat will impact the drug trade in S. Asia. I can see where the loss of the LTTE merchant ships would have a significant impact, but the drug trade is an open source business, so it will be interesting to see who fills this void.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/C...ow/4595554.cms

Quote:
Thus, over the years, drug enforcement agencies in Mumbai have arrested several Sri Lankan Tamils, and charged them with smuggling narcotics. "The accused were found to be highly motivated. They were taking the risk not just for the money, but because they believed in the LTTE's cause,'' said a public prosecutor. "The LTTE started using the revenue from narcotics to finance its armed struggle ever since the conflict started in 1983,'' said intelligence expert B Raman. However, the LTTE's role in the narcotics business was different from other international gangs such as the `D' Company, which indulges in direct selling of drugs.

Prof G H Peiris, a Sri Lankan security expert who writes for the US magazine ‘Jane's Defence Weekly', believes that the LTTE's involvement in the international drug trade was largely in the form of bulk delivery of heroin and cannabis from producing areas in Asia to consuming countries. He said that there did not appear to be any extensive involvement of the LTTE in drug ‘peddling' in the retail market or participation in opium growing and refining of heroin.
Posted by tequila,
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Unfortunately I think the U.S. has little leverage over Sri Lanka at the moment, which is probably much more interested in embracing the PRC, especially given the Rajapaksa brothers' personal interest such relations. The Sri Lankan media is naturally full of denunciations of the West in general for seeking to investigate human rights violations and hinder military action, which in their view did nothing but protect the Tigers.
Yep, and if you look at the LTTE websites they have links to all the articles where prominent politicians and human rights groups are calling war crime investigations. Of course you have to wonder to what end? In my opinion the character of the war has changed from a shooting war to lawfare.

Posted by Bob's World,
Quote:
My assessment would be that the LTTE made a major strategic error in transitioning to phase III operations too soon and attempting to fight this as more of a civil war than as an insurgency. Essentially setting up the "weak state vs strong state" scenario which rarely ends well for the weaker.
I don't think they transitioned too soon, as this strategy worked very well for them. Remember this war has been ongoing for over 30 years, and over that time the LTTE built up a powerful para-military and military force, so they could take and hold terrain. Since Sri Lanka is an island nation, they couldn't establish needed safehavens across the border, and they needed their safehavens to facilitate recruiting, training, planning, business, practice governance, etc. It is important to note that while they didn't have a safehaven for their military, the LTTE did establish a very large and politically active global diaspora. This is now the fighting wing for the current lawfare taking place IMO.

The LTTE's biggest mistake was their failure to recognize the transformation that took place in the Sri Lanka government and military. The military was better trained, larger, better equipped, and most importantly had a political mandate to destory the LTTE. The LTTE probably should have given up land and dispersed and started over with low level insurgency and terrorist acts, but obviously that is a hard pill for anyone to swallow. Seems like that decision hits all three factors: interests (safehaven, psychological victory, etc.), pride (fight until the last man), and fear (what happens if we give up our hard earned territory?). The LTTE strategy seemed to be, survive long enough to get the the international community to intervene in their behalf, but obviously that didn't happen. Like many defeated armies they were stuck in yesterday's strategy.

Civil war versus insurgency is somewhat loaded, but in general (begining with our civil war) one side isn't interested in overhrowing the established government, but rather succeeding from the establishment. The LTTE didn't want to overthrow the government in Colombo, they wanted to establish their own homeland. It would have been a different fight altogether if they wanted to overthrow the government and establish controll over the entire nation. One that they couldn't have won.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-31-2009 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 05-31-2009   #37
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Bill you seen this? Is it accurate?


http://therealnews.com/t/
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Old 05-31-2009   #38
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Default Tough slog

It was a tough slog, and there were several civilian casualties, I don't think anyone really knows what the real numbers and I suspect (but do not know) that 20k civilians killed is greatly exagerated.

I don't think anyone will argue that civilians suffered terribly, but then again this is a war among the people, and there were at least two sides to this conflict and the LTTE reportedly held several thousand civilians hostage for protection. Holding their own people (Tamils) hostage in an effort to create a disaster to get the international community to intervene on the LTTE's behalf. No one should underestimate the ruthlessness of the LTTE leadership. The world didn't intervene because the LTTE are noted terrorists who have killed hundreds of innocent civilians and the world is tired of terrorists.

Slap, the short answer is I don't know, but I do know there are at least two sides to this story. I also know there is no such thing as humane war, perhaps the most humane act is to take the necessary actions to bring the conflict to an end?
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Old 05-31-2009   #39
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I also know there is no such thing as humane war, perhaps the most humane act is to take the necessary actions to bring the conflict to an end?
You want to know who also told me that.....Air Force guy...retired Colonel.....intials are JW....writes a lot about Rings
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Old 06-01-2009   #40
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Default Lawfare rears its head ?

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from Bill
In my opinion the character of the war has changed from a shooting war to lawfare.
Interesting that you'd say this - and put it in bold.

Just quick now went through the countries not appearing on list of those who have ratified 1977 Additional Protocals I & II to the GCs. I didn't find: India, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Thus, a greater freedom of action since those protocals were set up to give insurgents an edge - an example of Lawfare waged with long-term goals in mind.

What think thou of a Lawfare thread and where ?

-------------------------------
Also interesting is this:

Quote:
from S2MSSI linked article
The lesson of nonstop, no-holds-barred combat -- the army even powered on during monsoons -- was complemented by better use of small, flexible "deep penetration" special forces units, many trained by their U.S. and Indian counterparts. Dressed like the rebels, they went behind enemy lines, assassinating Tigers, crippling infrastructure in rebel-held areas and reporting target locations to the army and air force.
as to which, see this thread for some legal on "pseudo-gangs".

Last edited by jmm99; 06-01-2009 at 06:15 AM. Reason: add quote & link
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