Saturday, November 21, 2009

LTTE: Dead or Bound for a Comeback?

Headlines broke this May that the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka, between the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was finally over. The SLA effectively crushed the final holdout of LTTE forces in the northeast of the island nation. However, according to some such as Robert Haddick from FP, believe that the war may not be completely over. This speculation is due to persistent trends that spurred the conflict in the first place: the marginalization of the Tamil minority.

Per The Utility of Force by General Rupert Smith, "today's conflict, especially the ethnic variety, are never actually resolved." Although this outlook is rather bleak, as ethnic rivalries are inevitable and rather evident across the continents, it may be the best explanation for the future situation of Sri Lanka. The conflict stems from the feud between the Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority. With the defeat of the Tigers, and the (hopeful) discontinuation of the bombing of villages and civilian/medical/Red Cross/NGO buildings, one would assume a morale shift for the Tamils, perhaps not entirely warm to the government but a bit better.

The Sri Lankan government could put their country on a path toward reconciliation with the Tamils (in all honesty, they have been rather brutish to these poor people). Unfortunately, this is not even remotely the case. Since the ceasefire, hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees have been placed in farm complexes (read: internment camps), behind barbed wire and with less-than-desirable conditions. The international community has been up in arms about this and until just a few seconds ago, the Sri Lankan government was not budging on the camp issue. Now, the government claimed they will release the Tamil "prisoners" beginning December 1st of this year. Finally.

Despite this development, the future does not look bright for the Sri Lankan domestic security situation. The Tamil people will remember these camps. They will certainly remember the targeted bombing by the SLA earlier this year. They will remember, and continue to experience, persecution and discrimination throughout the country. The disenfranchised are bound to resurrect old tendencies and tactics, though the movement may be dormant for a short period. It is likely that we have not seen the last of the Tigers nor civil war.

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