NEWS

LTTE Launch Air Raid In Sri Lanka - The World's First Terrorist Air Force

March 26, 2007
Aaman Lamba

The LTTE might have changed the game, perhaps for the worse, with the use of two light aircraft to drop four bombs on a military base north of the Colombo International Airport today, killing at least three people and injuring sixteen. The aircraft at the airbase were unharmed, and the international airport was closed temporarily. This is the first time the LTTE have used air power in their war/struggle/rebellion against the Sri Lankan government, and will likely bring stronger reprisals as the government forces come to terms with the new threat on the landscape.

The Sri Lankan government had claimed earlier this year that the LTTE had constructed an airstrip, and this military action of the 'Tamil Eelam Air Force' might be the first such example of air action by The World's First Terrorist Air Force. The LTTE claimed responsibility for the attack, with their spokesman, Rasiah Ilanthirayan. releasing a statement, saying, in part, "It is a measure to protect Tamil civilians from the genocidal aerial bombardments by Sri Lankan armed forces. More attacks of the same nature will follow."

The Sri Lankan Air Force has carried out numerous air attacks on LTTE areas in the past, and this will cause them to step up the air campaign. The LTTE may draw on it's existing Hezbollah alliance to support any government offensive.

This new capability of the LTTE will be doubtless of concern to India, separated by only a small distance from the Northern LTTE-controlled regions of Sri Lanka. It would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a joint Indo-Sri Lankan operation to neutralize the LTTE air capabilities. India may be also watching with interest the current support being provided by Pakistan's army to the Sri Lankan government in counter-insurgency operations. The Indian government has expressed serious concern on the air attacks, terming it a 'very, very serious development.'

In the global sense, the ability of non-state actors like the LTTE to procure and fund air operations puts in question the quality of anti-money laundering and monitoring activities of world governments. UN Security Council Resolution No 1373, passed after the 9/11 tragedies explicitly forbids the supplying of arms, ammunition and funds to identified terrorist organizations, such as the LTTE, which is on the U.S. State Department watch list since 1997. The peace talks being facilitated in Norway, and the on-paper ceasefire are both belied by the over 4000 deaths in Sri Lanka since 2005, when the current president Mahinda Rajapakse came to power.

The U.S. State Department notes in it's entry on the LTTE in their watch list,

The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations. The LTTE also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and any other equipment and supplies it needs. The LTTE exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe, and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka. Information obtained since the mid-1980s indicates that some Tamil communities in Europe are also involved in narcotics smuggling.

Policies of 'See No Evil' in world politics have been long since invalidated, perhaps it is time to apply realism in South Asian political affairs. Local problems are no longer purely local, and collective solutions must be found to them. The collective will is perhaps lacking, as in the past, however. The other deterrent to realpolitik might be the creeping 'culture of fear' that has gripped the world, and obscured holistic solutions to global terror, replacing them with expedient means instead.

Aaman Lamba is the Publisher of Desicritics.org, a Blogcritics network site. He also blogs, more infrequently nowadays, at Audit Trails Of Self
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LTTE Launch Air Raid In Sri Lanka - The World's First Terrorist Air Force

 

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#1
Dipendra
March 26, 2007
12:31 PM

Aaman,

This was a very disappointing article on your part. Common!!

Why do you view the Sri Lankan conflict purely through the anti-terrorist lens? Why not factor in the refusal of the current hardline Sri Lankan administration to offer any credible devolution deal to the island's Tamil minority? What about the plight of the 150,000 Tamils who were internally displaced by the non-stop aerial bombardment of their villages by the Sri Lankan airforce in the past one month?

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka admitted last month that a person was abducted/disappeared every eight hours in Sri Lanka. Human Rights Watch has documented the deteriorating human rights situation in the island. Should not this be factored in your analysis as well?

Attitudes such as yours would only serve to heighten the hardline attitudes of Tamils not only in Sri Lanka but perhaps in India as well to the inept foreign policy of the Sonia Gandhi regime in New Delhi. When India is unable to crush multiple insurrections be they in Kashmir, Assam or the Naxalite belt, how do you think it could help a hardline hawkish regime in Sri Lanka crush its own Tamil rebellion? The United States itself is losing the war in Iraq.

Please forget the moral posturing!! Think of a negotiated settlement instead - if not with the LTTE, with more moderate Tamil parties in the island. The days of an unchallenged Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka are gone. The Tamils have had a separate kingdom in that island since 1215 CE and would not continue to be subjugated under the false rubric of a Sri Lankan nation state.

#2
Aaman
URL
March 26, 2007
12:56 PM

Dipendra, let me make it even more clear - I'm hardline with all forms of violence, more so non-state actors, because of the tendency of small interests to corrupt them. The LTTE, by being allied with Hezbollah, by teaching the Al Qaeda the tricks of the trade, such as using trade boats to carry arms as well as smuggled goods, by their own attacks on civilians, and by walking away from peace multiple times has lost all credibility to represent the people they claim to represent.

India, too, fails to take a hardline stance, the 'See no Evil' approach referred to, and suffers the consequences. I'm a firm believer in humanitarian response, but not when those efforts are subverted by these groups - a couple of cases - the handling of the tsunami relief funds by LTTE-related organizations, and similar practices by Pakistani militant outfits after their earthquake.

Are you defending the use of air power by the LTTE? Would you like to hear the drone of a light plane overhead packed with small explosives in India?

#3
Aaman
URL
March 26, 2007
01:07 PM

...the false rubric of a Sri Lankan nation state

Realpolitik, meiner freund. The State is what it is, would you like to roll back India's unification too to it's constituent elements? Thank you, sir, but I prefer the union.

To put it differently, should we give half of Himachal Pradesh to the Tibetan refugees now, or perhaps, a hundred years hence?

#4
cynical nerd
URL
March 26, 2007
01:31 PM

Aaman,

The issue demands a bit more in-depth analysis. GoI's reaction shows the complete lack of any policy towards Sri Lanka. While expressing concern about the escalation of violence, what has GoI done to bring both the parties to the negotiating power?

The Sri Lankan government has been playing games w.r.t. India. It has signed a 10 year military co-operation deal with the United States. The U.S. wants to establish a naval base in the strategic Triconamalee. This will have a disastrous effect in India's backyard. It is a far cry from the days of Mrs. Gandhi who opposed even to a Voice of America radio transmitter in Sri Lanka. Such was India's influence there. The North-East demerger signed during the Rajiv Gandhi now is completely unravelled which will result in the steady alteration of demographics in the North and the East - i.e. the Tamils driven out as internally displaced person will be replaced by Sinhalese.

China has been making steady inroads in Sri Lanka. It is developing a port in Hambantota, a coal-fired plant in Puttalam and further agreements have been signed during Mahinda Rajapakse's recent visit to China.

Adding to Dipendra's point, allowing Pakistani military and intelligence personnel to assist Sri Lankan military is hardly in India's interest. This will open up a new Islamist terror front using the Muslim population in eastern Sri Lanka and southern India.

New oil deposits have been found in the Mannar area adjoining India's Cauvery basin. As a token gesture, China too have been alloted one block same as India. The United States Trade and Development Agency has promised considerable finance and technical assistance to develop the remaining oil fields.

Don't you see the complete marginilization of India? How does issuing token statements 'expressing concern' gonna help us or reduce violence in the island?

best,

#5
Aaman
URL
March 26, 2007
01:39 PM

I agree with your viewpoint, CN, I don't think I said India's foreign policy was right - it rarely is. But I'm not going to be an apologist for the LTTE. I concur with your views of the dangers of other sharks entering the Sri Lankan waters, but that's what happens in a power vacuum, like India's apparent lack of interest in it's backyard.

#6
Aaman
URL
March 26, 2007
01:40 PM

Update: The Sri Lankan government has ordered two separate inquiries into the attack, and the LTTE released photographs and descriptions of the planes and pilots involved in the raid.

the Tamil Tiger's Zlin Z 143 aircraft is said to have a range of 630 nautical miles and is capable of carrying an ordinance load of 240 kg.

#7
Ranjith Wijewardene
URL
March 26, 2007
05:06 PM

According to Thamilselvan, the political czar of the Tamil Tigers, two light aircraft were used in this attack although the Sri Lanka military says there was only one aircraft involved. If these aircraft came from the LTTE dominated Wanni, how did they reach Colombo undetected by the radar is another question bothering the investigators. Did the aircraft actually start in Wanni from any airports known to exist there? Or are they extremely small glider like aircraft that started from Colombo and returned to a hide out in Colombo at the dead of the night after accomplishing its murderous task? Killing three airmen and wounding 17 more of them is the major task the Air Tigers were able to achieve except the huge publicity the attack generated. That might encourage some of the Diaspora Tamils in the West, including the ones in Beverley Hills, to donate some more money to the cause of terrorism.

#8
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
10:22 AM

Aaman,

Your hardline views are simply pathetic. I was not defending the LTTE. I merely argued for balance in your lopsided report. You made no reference to the political rights of the Tamil people. This includes the right to physical safety as opposed to being subject to non-stop aerial bombardment, abductions and disappearances under the current Rajapakse regime.

Answer that, will you?

There were 232,000 people displaced by the conflict last year. Another 100,000 or more were displaced this year alone. Most happen to be Tamils.

Should not this be factored in what passes for your analysis?

You could not refute a single point raised by Cynical Nerd. Why not include that in the proto-Bush hardline rhetoric that you seem to espouse.

Common!!

And by the way - I fail to see the connection with Himachal Pradesh and Tibet?? Are you arguing that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are mere migrants?

Lemme give you a history lesson then! The Tamil presence in the island goes back to the second century BCE when invaders from South India emerged on the scene. A local Sri Lankan Tamil kingdom emerged in 1215 CE. We are hardly immigrants. We are sons of the soil though Sinhalese hardliners would love to claim otherwise.

Typical of Indians. They have no sense of history!

Indians like you tend to be arm chair hawks incapable of defending their national interest or influence their immediate environment. India has zero influence on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Zilch.

China and the United States compete for influence in Sri Lanka. India is no where in the picture as the Indira doctrine unravels under Sonia Gandhi.

So why don't you address your sanctimonious rhetoric to the pundits at South Block instead will ya?

And by the way, Indian intelligence reports - read B. Raman - suggest that perhaps 50% of the Sri Lanka's combat airforce might have been wiped out in the LTTE predawn raid on the country's primier air base. So why not you read more about Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict rather than preach without knowing the facts.

Hindustan Murdabad!

#9
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
10:48 AM

I'll let your statements and your sign-off speak for itself.

When you can apologize for the wanton assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, we'll talk about concrete realities of politics, since you ally yourself with a terrorist organization, it's not worthwhile analyzing your stand. Oops, am I offending your sensibilities?

You're welcome to write an article analyzing the pros and cons of the rebellion, if you choose.

#10
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
11:07 AM

Aaman,

Common! You do not respond to the points raised, conveniently hiding behind excuses!

You claim that I ally with a terrorist organization. Prove it! Not once did I defend the LTTE. Go back and read my earlier comments. I merely attacked the Rajapakse administration for its hardline, hawkish and racist stand on the Tamil national question.

About Rajiv Gandhi - do not get me started on that one. He needlessly jettisoned the lives of 1,100 Indian soldiers in the fight against the LTTE between 1987 and 1990. On one hand, he ordered Indian troops to fight the LTTE. This was quite correctly in response to the LTTE attacks on Sinhalese civilians in the East.

On the other hand, he instructed RAW to keep a line of communication open with the LTTE! The LTTE shipped its wounded to India for urgent medical treatment. The Indian authorities were in the complete know of that but chose to turn a blind eye. The LTTE wounded eventually recovered and returned to Sri Lanka to kill more Indian soldiers! Talk of Indian incompetence. Or worse still - complete chicanery - like his sphinx-like widow and inept son!!

Rajiv ran with the hare and hunted with the hound. And he paid for that with his life. Like his mother who encouraged Sikh militancy to sideline the Akali Dal only to die at the hands of a Sikh fundamentalist. And by the way - Rajiv might have been implicated in the anti-Sikh riots that engulfed Delhi in the immediate aftermath of the Indira assassination - though that can not be proved.

The Rajapakse regime had a false sense of euphoria that the "Tamil question" could be militarily resolved. And they appear to be failing. The latest 'Air Tiger' attack on the Colombo airbase that perhaps wiped out 50% of Sri Lanka's combat aircraft illustrates that.

I am no LTTE sympathizer. Since you are obviously ignorant of history - let me educate you once again.

Rajapakse won the last elections in November 2005 only because the LTTE enforced an elections boycott in the Tamil areas. Tamil civilians were not allowed to vote. Had they been allowed to vote - they would have supported the Ranil Wickramasinghe candidacy.

Rajapakse won a mere 20,000 odd more votes than the 50% required to clinch the presidency. Subsequent disclosers reveal that Rajapakse even paid the LTTE to enforce the boycott! This is the nature of politics in Sri Lanka.

Once again - read more on the subject before you pontificate. B. Raman's latest shpeel in SAAG would be a good start!

#11
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
11:16 AM

So, Rajiv Gandhi deserved to be assassinated because of his policies? Your statement 'Rajiv ran with the hare and hunted with the hound. And he paid for that with his life.' seems to imply that.

Don't be such a hanger-on of B Raman and the like. I do read his papers and link to them above, btw, but prefer to do my opinion formation myself.

I'm only saying the LTTE lacks all credibility to represent the Sri Lankans or the Tamil Sri Lankans, as I mention in the article. You seem to believe they are a voice of peace and reason.

#12
Amrita
URL
March 27, 2007
11:28 AM

You know what freaks me out about the LTTE - for an outfit that's pretty much a pioneer in terrorism, they get talked about so little in comparison to others just because they tend to concentrate their efforts and the West isnt attacked.

#13
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
11:30 AM

Aaman

Yes - Rajiv compromised Indian lives and stands guilty! Had Bush been involved with Iraqi insurgents in like manner that resulted in the death of American GIs, he would have been impeached. And quite rightly so.

For the record, I do not justify the LTTE's murder of an ex-Indian Prime Minister. But I have no regard to Rajiv Gandhi the individual. There's a subtle difference there.

And I likewise think his wife to be singularly incompetent with no understanding of foreign policy or domestic affairs. But I am just one person - who speaks for himself and no other.

And as for who represents the Tamils in this island - let the Tamils decide that!! You are not equipped to tell us who are representatives are.

I personally feel that we need democratic pluralism. The LTTE runs counter to that. But I resent the simplistic Bush-like rhetoric of the war against terror that you espouse since it conveniently ignores the underlying causes that led to the Tamil insurrection in the first place.

And by the way - Sri Lanka is now a client state of the US. The Secretary Ministry of Defence, the Army Commander and the Adviser to the President (the second most powerful man in the country) are all US residents, if not US citizens. The Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an Australian citizen!

India has abdicated its role in Sri Lanka as the island gets gradually transformed into an American launch pad to project force in the Indian subcontinent!

Focus on that for a change rather than an inane article on the attack on the airbase that is factually inaccurate.

Btw, I only suggested B.Raman as a starter - since you were ignorant of the Sri Lankan ground situation.

#14
kela
March 27, 2007
11:31 AM

the ltte are freedom fighters.This is truly a landmark in the history of Sri lankan tamils.Rajiv Gandhi was a traitor and deceived the ltte so he had to pay with his life.

#15
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
11:33 AM

Amrita

You have a point. But please do not only talk about terrorism without reference to the underlying causes that led to it in the first place. Sri Lanka's human rights record is simply appaling as the Human Rights Watch report so well documents. A person gets abducted every 8 hours here if the former Minister of Foreign Affairs is to be believed.

Best regards

#16
Amrita
URL
March 27, 2007
11:36 AM

Dipendra - if you're not a terrorist sympathizer then why are you so worked up? This is a post about a terrorist organization and its latest attack, not a history lesson.

As for the history btw, none of what you're saying is exactly unknown in India or to Indians. But you're fair and far off if you think any of that excuses the actions of the LTTE. The tamilians you champion, by your own admission, are suffering under these people no less than they did under various Sri lankan govts. So what's your beef?

#17
Aaman
March 27, 2007
11:37 AM

You have the freedom of speech to say what you want about Rajiv but we are going by the state department and Indian government definition of terrorists and by that yard stick LTTE is a terrorist organization.

They might be claiming to be fighting for the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils but have walked away from the walked away from the negotiating table belie that notion.

#18
kela
March 27, 2007
11:41 AM

well aman i didnt know this blog was the govt of india's official/unofficial mouthpiece.Well i have typed my comments based on reports in the Outlook and India today magazine.

#19
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
11:45 AM

Dear Amrita

I reacted to Aaman's piece that looked at the airbase bombing solely as a terrorist incident. Terrorism is defined as the attack on non-combatants. This particular incident does not constitute an act of terror.

I refuse to accept US State Department definitions of terror. The US is a dishonest actor in the neighborhood and is no friend of India.

The Sri Lankan government has resorted to a repeated daily aerial bombardment of its Tamil citizens. There has been ethnic cleansing in The strategic district of Trincomalee. Remember Bosnia? No other country in the world uses air strikes for counter-insurgency operations in such a ruthless manner as Sri Lanka. And the number of disappearances here are truly staggering. The death squads are at work. So why not refer to that, provide the context and then describe the LTTE attack on the Colombo airforce base. This explains why I was so worked up. Too many of us have died and have been displaced in recent months.

If the Tamils are suffering under the LTTE as you mention (you have a point), the Sinhalese have been taken for a ride by their own leadership.

Best regards

#20
cynical nerd
March 27, 2007
11:47 AM

Aaman:

Dipendra's comments no way supported the LTTE. He wanted you to factor in the other side of the story. I explained you how the Sri Lankan government's actions in roping in U.S., China and Pakistan is against India's interest. Further, the plight of thousands of internally displaced people cannot be described in words. If the situation becomes worse, they will have no choice but to come to India. He made a valid point of how LTTE's election boycott resulted in the victory of Rajapakse. A LTTE supporter will never make such a statement. Ranil Wickramangasinghe would have been a better choice for their interest. This interest cost them dearly. This attack has come to viewed as a morale booster after a long series of setbacks.

It is good that when you say you are following your opinion rather than take reports by ex Indian bureaucrats as divine. Because, often one sees a lack of coherence in articulating what it means for India's national interest.

On the IPKF again, Dipendra is right when Indians after the initial success were outwitted both by the LTTE and the Premadasa government. We failed to follow up and we paid dearly for that. One of the few consolations for the loss of our soldiers is the North-East merger agreement which guaranteed territorial contiguity for the Tamils. Now that too is unravelled.

In contrast in Nepal, the UPA government went out of its way in throwing out the King and brought in the Maoists to centerstage. Now the Maoists were never pro-India, provide support and moral inspiration to Indian Naxalites. The Naxals as you know were termed as No.1 threat to our internal security by none other than Manmohan Singh! Nevertheless, it was done at the behest of India's treacherous Communist parties jettisoning our national interest. All I am saying is a policy of engagement in Sri Lanka to stop the ongoing violence, ensure peace and bring back the island into our sphere our influence.

best,

#21
kela
March 27, 2007
11:55 AM

India should take a leaf out of the lankan's tactics and aerial bomb bangladesh and other small neighbouring countries enabling terrorist activities in the north-east and kashmir.Its high time we started acting like a big bro in the neighbourhood.Too many of our soldiers have died because of political and bureacratic apathy.

#22
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
11:58 AM

Well-put, CN, particularly the last paragraph

Let's nip this jihad in the bud and note that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and that's why this is an open forum.

kela, as always, Desicritics provides a platform for all to express their opinions, as any long-timers on DC will concur - anyone remember Sanjaya?

#23
Amrita
URL
March 27, 2007
12:12 PM

Dipendra - you're right, you as a nation have suffered greatly and it is a crime that your problems continue to be swept under the international carpet.

But I repeat, this isnt a history lesson but a report on what went down in your country. That said, I bet more people know more about the ground situation than they previously did thanks to your presence on this board.

I think you'd be better served writing for DC - you have so much to say, it makes more sense than commenting, dont you think? :)

#24
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
12:13 PM

Dipendra does write for Desicritics, I believe.

#25
Chandra
March 27, 2007
12:19 PM

Hi

I am not sure if the numbers add up with respect to the LTTE boycott having an impact on the election....the last time elections were held in Tamil dominated areas...about 140000 voters cast their ballot....on the other hand Rajapakse won by over 180000 votes....There is of course the presumption that if as many as 75% turned out to vote in the election Wickramasinghe would have won the election. My point is if 75% turned out to vote in Tamil areas...we would not have had a conflict isn't it.......

rgds

#26
kela
March 27, 2007
12:36 PM

Aaman -# 17

according to the indian penal code anal sex and consequently homosexuality is a crime and a punishable offense.Going by your logic of following Indian govt's policy does this mean you have the same views on homosexuality?

#27
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
12:39 PM

No

#28
kela
March 27, 2007
12:41 PM

then why use the "govt def" yardstick? why dont u base your opinions based on your research ? :)

#29
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
12:42 PM

Kela, you haven't read Whitman much, have you?

#30
kela
March 27, 2007
12:46 PM

no sir i haven't.

#31
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
12:51 PM

"I contradict myself? well, then I contradict myself.

I am vast, I contain multitudes"

Kela, seriously, why talk about homosexuality and terrorism in the same breadth? Irrelevant digression.

#32
kela
March 27, 2007
01:00 PM

well the homosexuals do view the homophobics as terrorists.Terrorism can be in many forms and on different scales
def of terrorism - The calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

#33
cynical nerd
URL
March 27, 2007
01:20 PM

Thanks Aaman. Just to add to my earlier point on new oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Manner, the US Trade and Development Agency has granted half a million dollars to the Sri Lankan government to establish an oil and gas regulatory authority. The Sri Lankan government will further pursue foreign investments and technical expertise to develop the fields. From May through December '07, they are expected to sign multi-million dollar deals most likely at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, TX.

India recently lost yet another oil deal to China. The Myanmar gas pipeline will now go to China rather than to the much shorter route to India! All this because the UPA government could not convince the Burmese junta and the Bangladeshi governments on time. I suspect the Sri Lankan deal too will go the other way. One needs to understand these underlying issues to atleast get a grasp of the situation.

best,

#34
Aaman
URL
March 27, 2007
01:24 PM

cn, we're missing your excellent rhetoric on Desicritics, please do post, let me know if you need your login details

#35
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
01:37 PM

Dear Amrita

Many thanks for your kind words. I do comment intermittently on Desicritics and enjoy the debate. Superb forum indeed.

Chandra:

Let me explain. Rajapakse might have had 180,000 more votes than Ranil at the last presidential elections in Sri Lanka. Granted. But he needed to secure at least 50% of the total vote to avoid a second round of voting. He did this by a mere 20,000 odd votes.

The number of Tamil voters in Jaffna, the Vanni, Batticaloa and Trincomalee who were not allowed to cast their ballot reportedly due to the alleged Rajapakse-LTTE pre-poll arrangement might have been 400,000. It is common knowledge that the Tamil voter would have opted for the more liberal Ranil Wickramasinghe than the hardline Rajapakse who campaigned on the "lets defeat the LTTE and roll back the ceasefire" rhetoric. I stand by my earlier point i.e. that Rajapakse needed the LTTE to win the elections he would not have otherwise won.

Cynical Nerd:

you raise an important point. The entry of the Americans into the Gulf of Mannar (known to Indians as the Sethusamudram) under the pretext of oil exploration means that they would just be 12 nautical miles from the Tamil Nadu coast. The implications on the maritime defence of India is obvious. Remember that Guantanamo base is situated in Cuba and that Fidel Castro has not been able to evict the Yanks from there since 1959. Once again, I do not trust the Americans under Bush. They represent a threat to India's long term interests. And I hold the US partly responsible for the current Colombo administration's hardline attitude to the Tamil question in Sri Lanka.

In short, I am disturbed at the unstinting support of the Americans to the Rajapakse administration's campaign against the Tamil civilian population. The LTTE attack on the Colombo airbase serves to neutralize this, albeit momentarily. Of course, it should not lull us into a false sense of complacency that the LTTE represents the way out.

The Tamils are a constituent element in the fabric of this nation. And until such time that we are recognized and given equal rights, the fight will continue - if not by the LTTE, by another Tamil militant group. There is too much history that fuels this conflict.

Best regards to all.

#36
Chandra
March 27, 2007
02:17 PM

Dipendra

There are 700000 registered voters in the said region. 19% voted during the last election. I am not sure what is the basis of your 400000 number?

Even if we assume a 20% turnout (historical average), Wickermasinghe would still fall short of winning more votes than Rajapakse.

rgds

#37
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
09:35 PM

Chandra,

There are indeed 700,000 registered voters in the region i.e. Jaffna, Vanni, and parts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa that then came under LTTE control. I used 400,000 as a safe approximation since not all registered voters still lived in their original place of residence.

Why do you assume that only 20% of the 700,000 would have voted? At the last parliamentary elections many more voted than that. In fact record numbers came out to vote in North Sri Lanka for the first time since 1982. The historical average you referred to was during the pre-ceasefire years. The last presidential elections in November, 2005 was during the ceasefire when people were still able to turn out to vote in large numbers.

I still feel that Rajapakse would have lost narrowly or at the least there would have had to be a second round of voting.

On a different subject, the airforce claims that all its combat planes are intact and rubbished statements that there had been damage to its combat fleet. Since we have defacto press censorship when it comes to defence reporting, we have no way to know the truth.

Here is one defiant Sri Lankan media take on the subject:

http://www.themorningleader.lk/20070328/issues-1.html

Good night :-)

#38
Dipendra
March 27, 2007
09:37 PM

Chandra,

There are indeed 700,000 registered voters in the region i.e. Jaffna, Vanni, and parts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa that then came under LTTE control. I used 400,000 as a safe approximation since not all registered voters still lived in their original place of residence.

Why do you assume that only 20% of the 700,000 would have voted? At the last parliamentary elections many more voted than that. In fact record numbers came out to vote in North Sri Lanka for the first time since 1982. The historical average you referred to was during the pre-ceasefire years. The last presidential elections in November, 2005 was during the ceasefire when people were still able to turn out to vote in large numbers.

I still feel that Rajapakse would have lost the vote had Tamils in the North been permitted to cast their ballot. There would have atleast been a second round of voting.

On a different subject, the airforce claims that all its combat planes are intact and rubbished statements that there had been damage to its combat fleet. Since we have defacto press censorship when it comes to defence reporting, we have no way to know the truth.

The Morning Leader in Colombo today i.e. www.morningleader.lk has a good take on the incident.

Good night.

#39
kela
March 27, 2007
10:00 PM

#32-
carrying on,taking into consideration the definition of terrorism it looks like India is a state sponsor of terrorism against homosexuals .Gays make up around 3-5% of the population of the USA and it keeps growing worldwide.Gay marriages are legal in UK and Canada.

#40
Die Hard
March 28, 2007
02:32 AM

Aaman, Many thanks for the article.

Dipendra, Chandra, and CN we need to agree on some points and then move on to a more serious discussion on the questions of-

1) Why LTTE chose hardline Mahinda Rajapakse over Ranil Wickremesinghe?

2) How to overcome the threat posed by LTTE and their newly acquired air power

The points that we ought to agree are:

1. The Tamils in Sri Lanka are not immigrants. North of the island is there homeland.

2. Tamils have been having serious greivances against the succesive governments of SL since independence.

3. LTTE which may have started out as an organisation of freedom fighters are now one of the most powerful terrorist organisation in the world. (I can back this statement with various facts and stats on the atrocities committed by them- in SL against its Sinhala, Tamil and Moslem citizens and their leaders)

Common Dipendra, you need to call the spade a spade!

4. Indira Gandhi nutured, armed and propelled the LTTE to become a terrorist organisation and Rajiv Gandhi - I don't know where to begin....

5. India is totally, utterly and directly responsible for the state that SL is in right now. ( read JN Dixit's Assignment Colombo and GOI's reports on findings of Rajiv Gandhi's assasination)

6. India has niether strategy nor will and gumption to help/assist/mediate in resolving its neighbour's problem.

7. SL is left with no option but to turn to Pakistan, China and USA for military assistance since India's point blank rebuff.

8. All the above countries are in SL for a reason- be it establishing military bases or strengthening power in South Asia or future oil prospects.

9. Mahinda Rajapakse had the support of the people in the South but he won because LTTE boycott the election in the North.

10. Mahinda Rajapakse's Goverment has poor record on Human Rights

11. Acquisition of Air power by LTTE is a serious threat not only to the region but to the world at large because LTTE has connections to Al-Qieda and Hezbollah. (Totally agree with Aaman on this.)

Turning now to the two questions I raised, I beleive that LTTE wanted MR to come to power so that they could easily breach the CFA and go on to the next stage of Elam War 4 with their Air power.

Answer to my own question number 2 is by incapacitation, if not elimination.

True 'war for peace' as we call it here may sound rhetorical to many who have not experienced a war at first hand. But this war is almost 30 years old and we have a generation, including myself who has no idea what it was like before.

It got to STOP. I beleive as long as LTTE is there, that they would do everything posible to prevent any peaceful solution. They have made sure by use of terror that they are the only organsation that represent the Tamil people of SL.


But I totally agree that incapacitation of LTTE would not address the problems of the Tamil people.

Tamil people of SL should have, if not a seprerate homeland (as they aspire) at least a federal state with some autonomy.

#41
Die Hard
March 28, 2007
02:53 AM

Dipendra, I have to correct you in #1.

There is no 'Buddhist extremism'. It is an oxymoron. The fundamental/core of Dhamma is taking the "middle way" or "middle path" to reach the ultimate destination Nirvana. Buddhism renounces all acts of extremism. So if you are an extremist...you are not a Buddhist.

I think you meant to say 'SINHALA EXTREMISM". That we have in abundance.

#42
kela
March 28, 2007
03:13 AM

The LTTE is a terrorist organisation and must be stopped at all costs.The main aim of the LTTE is to create a greater Tamil Nation which includes the whole of Tamil Nadu and some parts of the neighbouring states besides sri lanka.The LTTE is know to support the extremist groups operating in the northeast helping them with them with their expertise in explosives.A diplomatic solution should be brought to the conflict in Sri Lanka.I would suggest Indian govt sending Sunjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi as goodwill ambassadors to preach Gandhigiri to both sides involved in the conflict.

#43
Ruvy in Jerusalem
URL
March 28, 2007
09:14 AM

Aaman,

I've been following this event in Sri Lanka with much interest and that interest was further peaked when I realized that our Shia cousins to the north, HizbAllah, have been working with the LTTE to "teach them the trade", so to speak.

HizbAllah means Farsi influence. Apparently, the LTTE has been cutting deals all over the place. When one looks for a confluence of interests between bad guys, one does not necessarily need to look in one's own backyard. In this instance, I see a confluence of influence outside of our own backyard, indicating that the Irani and the Americans can work together. One way of weakening a country is weakening its southern flank and robbing it of control over its own sphere of influence. This appears to be Iranian strategy with respect to India being robbed of its sphere of influence over Sri Lanka, and it appears to be also in the interests of the United States regime as well.

I do not pretend to any knowledge of Indian politics and certainly claim no understanding of the intricacies of Sri Lankan politics. But apparently the world powers are paying attention to your neck of the woods and it does not bode well for you, as their attention does not bode well for me here.

Keep your eyes wide open. And keep your antennae attuned to what you do not expect... We live in interesting times, my friend.

#44
Aaman
URL
March 28, 2007
09:23 AM

Write about the confluence of power politics for us, Reuven.

#45
rajen nair
March 28, 2007
11:23 AM


Very interesting debate. Differing view points but I am glad to know that in the end everyone agreed that LTTE is a terrorist organisation and its latest act of bombarding the airport in SL which resulted in loss of civilian lives is one more act of terrorisim. Also Dipendra though is good in articulating his argument but calling Hindustan Murdabad was made in poor taste and must be condemned.Surprisingly no one took offence to it

#46
kela
March 28, 2007
12:24 PM

have the homosexuals agreed that India is a state sponsor of terrorism against persons of their ilk ?

def of terrorism - The calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

#47
Ruvy in Jerusalem
URL
March 28, 2007
12:53 PM

It's really a simple concept, Aaman. Let's use my neck of the woods as an example, and attempt to use the more conventional MSM understanding of events (with just a slight "pro-Israel" i>slant), instead of my own take. [see the wolfish smile?]

The Americans supply Israel with up to $3 billion yearly in foreign aid, and Egypt with a smaller but significant amount as well. In addition, the US props up the Jordanian monarchy. It is in the American security interest to project its power to obtain peace between Israel and the territories it liberated in 1967, territories that now seek independence as an Arab "Palestinian" state. So we see in Israel several military bases that are controlled by the United States.

The Arabs have a "proto-state" operating in these territories, the Palestinian Authority. The EU provides large amounts of aid yearly to support this entity. It is in the EU's interest to project its power to secure stability in the region, and help establish an independent Arab "Palestinian" state next to Israel, so that the two might live together in peace. Therefore, we see off the coast of Lebanon a large fleet that is largely European to secure the interests of the EU.

It is in the interest of both the EU and the United States to "jawbone" Israel into taking "chances for peace" so we see a continual amount of pressure from American officials at a high level, and a continual series of visits from high-level EU officials to do the same thing.

So we see both the US and the EU throwing its power over my region.

Let's move on, though. It gets more interesting. The Arab states want to see an independent Arab entity here instead of a Jewish one, and have decided upon two separate strategies to accomplish this. One is to liberate the territory from the Zionist thieves and oust them entirely through armed struggle. This is the strategy of Hamas, and HizbAllah. The other is to bite the bullet and establish an Arab state in the primarily Arab cities of Judea and Samaria and in Gaza. This is the strategy of the PLO.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have a stake in backing the PLO. Their backing of the PLO is their way of extending their power over this little territory.

Syria and Iran have a stake in backing the HizbAllah and Hamas. Iran is looking to extend its power to the Mediterranean, Syria is looking to control Lebanon and regain the Heights of Golan. Their backing of HizbAllah and Hamas is their way of extending their power over the region. Behind Iran (to a degree) stand Russia and China, and both of them also wish to extend their power over the region, Russia most particularly. So they use Syria and Iran as their stalking horses to accomplish that goal. So we see four powers seeing extend their power over our neighborhood.

That is the concept of the confluence of power over a single piece of territory, in this case, Israel. If the example seems a bit strained, it is. And it does not reflect reality, but the funny mirror version of reality the MSM sell us. Take that concept and apply it to the Indian sub-continent.

Have fun.

#48
Dipendra
March 28, 2007
01:40 PM

Die Hard,

I do not entirely agree with your analysis but I like your detached logic and the flow of thought. This is food for thought and a pleasure to read.

I would disagree with you that India was responsible for the mess that Sri Lanka is in today. The Sri Lankans (Sinhalese and Tamils) are solely responsible for their own mess. India saw an opening and exploited it. But the initial vacuum resulted only because we failed to evolve systems of governance that were inclusivist and tolerant. One of Independent Ceylon's first piece of legislation in 1948 was to disenfranchise those Tamils of Indian origin in the central districts of the island. This amounted to 1,000,000 people. Malaysia and Singapore never did that. And Sri Lanka's indigenous Tamils in the North felt that this did not bode too well for their future either.

The Tamil militants started their quest for separation in the battlefields of Lebanon in the late 1970s. They were first trained there. Indira Gandhi provided them with facilities only after 1983.

We are condemned to repeat our mistakes - ad nauseum. Look at the events of the last three days. The LTTE airwing bombed the Governments airbase on Monday. Some reports, though challenged by the Government and hard to verify, suggest that a part of the Governments combat airfleet was destroyed/damaged. The LTTE launched a daring suicide bomb attack on a military camp in the Eastern Province on Tuesday. The Government claims to have overrun an LTTE camp today (i.e. Wednesday). The violence does not seem to stop.

Meanwhile, an unconditional American backing for the Rajapakse administration is set to continue as hardliners in the South seek a further intensification of the conflict. The LTTE would then see an opportunity to retaliate with the Katyusha rockets that are reportedly in their possession (once again hard to verify) due to alleged links with the Hezbollah. Not a pretty scene.

Meanwhile, India under Sonia Gandhi is no longer in Serendip as the yanks consolidate just 12 nautical miles off India.

The local Tourist Board got it right. Sri Lanka is indeed a "land like no other"! But it certainly ain't "the closest it gets to heaven on earth"!!

As Mohandas K Gandhi mentioned - an eye for an eye and we all go blind!

Best regards

#49
cynical nerd
URL
March 28, 2007
02:12 PM

Aaman: Thanks, will surely have desicritics in mind when I restart writing.

Dipendra: Good points all. I found the information on how Tamils not being allowed to vote very perceptive and interesting. I am not sure about Die Hard's assertion that the Tigers intentionall wanted Rajapakse in power so that they can find a reason to break the CFA.

Die Hard: You make some very good points. While, India has reasons to be concerned about Tiger air force, boosting its own air defence along the the southern coast cannot be the only answer. There needs to be more engagement from India's side. Right now, as you say the Sri Lankan government is getting lots of support from the Americans, Chinese and Pakistanis. This is due to the vacuum left by the Indians, the "war on terror" rhetoric of the Bush administration and also the agressive Chinese "string of pearls" strategy of encircling India. This larger geo-strategic picture is probably beyond this post, it has to be factored in since things aren't the same as in the 80s.

best regards,

#50
Dharman
March 30, 2007
02:48 AM

Terrific debate. Loved it.

NDTV had a report today on LTTE efforts to invest in submarine capacity. We need more coverage on the unraveling situation in Sri Lanka.

#51
Thamilan
April 14, 2007
12:34 PM

End of Sinhalese Nationlism or the Sinhalese Race?

The book of Mahavamsa is a work of an idiot. The Sinhalese failure to look beyond that book will bring the total destruction of the whole race. Even the book says that the so called Sinhalese Kings continuously married bride from the Pandiyan Empire in order keep alliance. This makes the so called Sinhalese King more part of the Dravidian blood line. Tamils had the first naval empire of the Indian subcontinent and its laughable that the Sinhalese claim to be on the island before the Tamils. LTTE is just asking for the rights of the Tamil and if they wanted to just to be a terrorist group they would have killed the Sinhalese in Millions by now. LTTE would have never existed if they did not have a reason and would have never been able to fight an outnumbered Army that is well financed for almost 3 decades (also taking on the Indian Army in the middle). When Indians took up arms against the British they were called trouble makers (now it is defined as terrorists). When Blacks demanded their rights from the White South African Government they were also called terrorists. Tamil Nationalism is a very minimum goal of LTTE and the rights of the Tamils of Elam is their main goal. If LTTE fails, the Sinhalese Government will definitely wipe out the Tamils of Elam and that would make Tamil Nationalism to reemerge. Tamil Nadu will for sure wipe the Island of Lanka clean of the Sinhalese if that ever happens. Tamil Nadu buried the Tamil Nationalism for the union of India, if the Central Government of India fails to bring a solution that would be acceptable by Elam Tamils then for sure the break up of Tamil Nadu from the Indian Union is a fact (by force or by referendum). LTTE made a huge mistake by not claiming the whole Island and not labeling Sinhalese as foreigners. The Tamils existence is so rooted into the Island that it cannot be even traced back, while the Sinhalese existence beings with an idiot and his followers being banished from the Bengal. The burning of the Jaffna library which housed scripts and 10,000 years of Tamil history is for sure one of the greatest lost to the Tamils. For sure the two light Air Planes are nothing compared to the Sri Lankan Air Force, but for sure it was enough to make the Sri Lankan Government tremble. The same was said when the Tigers Naval unit emerged and now they proved to be a successful fighting force. If the LTTE gains their goal it is win, win and win situation (for the Tamils, Sinhalese and Indians). If LTTE fails it will be a disaster for the Indian Union and the entire Sinhalese race. Two and a half million Tamils against the sixteen million Sinhalese has only caused the total destruction of the Sinhalese State (bad image on the world stage, ruined economy that is running on donations from the western powers). Seventy million Tamils against the sixteen million Sinhalese will only lead to the extinction of the Sinhalese Race. Tamil Nationalism is far more extreme then the Sinhalese Nationalism.

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