The Sri Lankan Government is engaged in mortal combat with the LTTE. There is little independent news as to success or failure, but judging from the little that is available, it seems as if the government does have the upper hand, at least now.
Given the fact that the LTTE's supply routes appear to have been cut and given the resources the government is pouring into the war, there is a possibility that the Tigers will be ejected from the Wanni. The Government will then proclaim victory and all will be well?
I doubt it.
Thsi article, in todays Sunday Times got me thinking.
Col. Karuna, former LTTE commander of the East has pleaded guilty to breaching British immigration laws and faces a jail term of two years. The article goes on to state that "the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is expected to spend the coming months in sifting evidence and trying to construct a case against him probably under the Convention against Torture".
This is going to put the government and Karuna's cadres in a pickle.
To begin with, is there peace in the East? If not peace, at least stability? The Governemnt proclaimed victory over the Tigers in the East last year, but judging from the sketchy news reports emanating from the area, things are anything but normal.
The Government appears to have some administrative control and the army does have some presence there but by all accounts Karuna's cadres appear to be running the East as their own fief, extorting and terrorising much of the population, particularly the Muslims and the Tamils. The much vaunted liberation appears to have been little more than a handover to the Karuna gang, with the government retaining a minimal of control.
It is this that is going to cause the biggest headaches, post victory in the Wanni, if that comes to pass.
What does one do with the Karuna cadres? The Government apparently had a neat solution - pack them off with false passports to fairer climes, probably with a large wad of cash to help them on their way. The arrest and prosecution of Col. Karuna will be noted with more than a little interest by his followers. I doubt if the remaining kingpins in that particular gang are going to accept any further offers of a happy retirement abroad.
Which brings us to the question of what form their pound of flesh is going to take.
The current arrangement seems to be that they can run the East unmolested as long as they do not attack the government or its representatives. This may work in the interim but will it satisfy in the long term? Power does strange things to people and once acquired, it is not easily given up. Given that Government "control" of the East is dependent on Karuna, there is little that the government can do, other than dance to his tune. If the Government does decide to assert control, after a possible victory in the Wanni, then they will have a real fight on their hands. Minus the intelligence gathering by the Karuna cadres plus scattered roaming bands of Tigers staging random attacks (doing what they are doing in the Monaragala district) we will probably face a scenario of guerilla warfare across large tracts of the East, South and North.
In teh meanwhile, there are disturbing reports that the Karuna gang's terrorising of the muslim population is prompting them to take up arms against Karuna, so the East might turn into a three way battle.
Not the happiest thoughts to start the New Year with.