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Kilinochchi: The Kiss Of Death

B. Raman
 Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai

18 December 2008

"'Kilinochchi within kissing distance'. So said the disinformation warriors of Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lankan Army Commander, more than a week ago. It has been a long and fatal kiss - more for the Sri Lankan Army than for the LTTE.. " together with Comment by tamilnation.org 

[see also SLA death toll hits 170 in Vanni, hundreds wounded, 36 bodies recovered - LTTE; Sachi Sri Kantha on Manifesto of a �Goody Two Shoes� Sinhalese General and Govt's war costing more lives than ever in Lanka's history - Ranjith Jayasundera in Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Leader, 14 December 2008]

"Kilinochchi within kissing distance". So said the disinformation warriors of Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lankan Army Commander, more than a week ago..

It has been a long and fatal kiss--more for the Army than for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It has been a long kiss of death for the young hastily-trained Sinhalese recruits to the Sri Lankan Army who were rushed to the battle front by the General in his keenness to keep his promise of "In Kilinochchi before the New Year".

Similar to the promise which Gen.Douglas McArthur, commanding the allied troops in South Korea during the Korean war, repeatedly made to the US troops fighting against the North Korean and Chinese Armies.

"To home before Christmas", he used to promise. Christmas came and Christmas went, but the North Koreans and the Chinese fought fiercely. McArthur's promises were repeatedly belied.'Which Christmas?" people started asking sarcastically.

Ultimately, there were neither victors nor losers in the war. It ended in a stalemate after the loss of thousands of lives on both sides.

In bitter fighting on the outskirts of Kilinochchi since the beginning of this week, the SL Army and the LTTE have sustained heavy casualties. As normally happens in military conflicts, both sides are playing down their own casualties and exaggerating those of the adversary. However, the claims of the LTTE seem to be nearer the truth than those of the Army.

The LTTE claims to have killed 170 soldiers of the SL Army, but the Army insists that only 25 of its soldiers have been killed. However, the LTTE has been able to release the photographs of at least 36 soldiers killed, thereby proving that the fatalities sustained by the Army are many more than the 25 admitted by it.

Reliable accounts show that both sides have been fighting fiercely and losing many young people. The Army has lost many more arms and ammunition and other equipment than the LTTE. The fighting has been a bonanza for the LTTE, which has been able to replenish its dwindling stocks of arms and ammunition.

The odds are still against the LTTE. It has well-trained and well-motivated cadres, who have been fighting with great determination, but it is running short of arms and ammunition despite the seizures from the Army. It has no air cover against the repeated air strikes by the Sri Lankan Air Force.

The SL Army has the advantage of numbers and arms and ammunition procured with funds from China and Iran, but its soldiers are not as well-motivated and as well-trained as those of the LTTE.

The LTTE had shifted its offices from Kilinochchi many weeks ago in anticipation of the battle. Kilinochchi has now nothing but the death traps for the SL Army laid by the LTTE. The LTTE knows where those death-traps are, but not the Army. This gives an advantage to the LTTE.

The battle being fought for Kilinochchi is a combined miniature version of the battles of Stalingrad in the erstwhile USSR and El Alamein in North Africa. At Stalingrad, the Soviet Army beat back the Nazis after inflicting repeated heavy casualties on them. At El Alamein, the allied troops commanded by Gen. Bernard Montgomery (later a Field Marshal) beat back the advancing Nazi Army commanded by Gen.Rommel with heavy casualties. These two battles marked the turning points in the Second World War.

Making a statement on the defeat of Rommel's army at El Alamein, Sir Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister, told the House of Commons: " There was no victory before Al Alamein.There will be no defeat after El Alamein." He was proved right.

Will Kilinochchi prove a similar turning point in the battle being fought between the SL Army and the LTTE? If the LTTE loses the battle, it could mark the beginning of its end as an insurgent force, but not as a terrorist organisation. If the SL Army wins, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

Comment by tamilnation.org 

Understandably perhaps, B.Raman, Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai chooses to ignore the elephant in the room, something which Indian Foreign Minister did not do when he spoke in the Indian Parliament in October 2008 -

�We have a very comprehensive relationship with Sri Lanka. In our anxiety to protect the civilians, we should not forget the strategic importance of this island to India's interests,... especially in view of attempts by countries like Pakistan and China to gain a strategic foothold in the island nation...Colombo had been told that India would "look after your security requirements, provided you do not look around. We cannot have a playground of international players in our backyard." Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee

'We cannot have a playground of international players in our backyard'. Yes indeed. That will not do, would it?  Mr.Raman will understand when we say that his comments (taken in totality) appear directed to advance New Delhi's strategic interest of securing that Sinhala Sri Lanka  moves  away from the China-Iran-Pakistan axis. New Delhi (and Mr.Raman)  know full well that if President Rajapakse is permitted to continue unchecked with his onslaught on Tamil Eelam and progress it to its genocidal end, New Delhi would have lost its window of opportunity to prevent the embedding of Chinese/Pakistan presence  in what Mr.Mukherjee regards as India's 'backyard'.  Mr.Raman (and New Delhi) appear willing to look on with equanimity whilst Sinhala Sri Lanka continues to murder thousands of Tamils struggling for freedom from alien Sinhala rule - so long as Tamil resistance is not entirely annihilated before New Delhi has securely embedded its own presence in the Island.

If President Rajapakse does play ball and distances himself from China/Pakistan/Iran to the extent that New Delhi desires, then something like the 1988 comic opera Provincial Councils Act (and that too, with a divided North and Eastern Province) sweetened with 'humanitarian aid' for the suffering Eelam Tamils will be presented by New Delhi to the Tamil people, including the people of Tamil Nadu, as a panacea, and marketed as a great boon by the likes of Mr.Raman. Mr.Raman is wrong if he believes the Tamil people are not aware that New Delhi's foreign policy is not directed serve the interests of the  people of Tamil Eelam or for that matter the interests of the Sinhala Sri Lanka nation but directed simply to serve that which New Delhi perceives to be its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.  In the felicitous phraseology of Mr.Pranab Mukherjee -  'We cannot have a playground of international players in our backyard'.

Said that, Mr.Raman will not take it amiss if we  recommend to him (as we had recommended to Mr.Pranab Mukherjee a couple of months ago  in October)  to revisit  the words of Arundhati Roy in 2007 on the extensive and deep rooted nature of India's true 'backyard'-

"You don�t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have (in India) a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts. We�ve begun to eat our own limbs. ..While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people � human scavengers � earn their living carrying several kilos of other people�s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn�t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some f***ing superpower this.... What we�re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India � the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It�s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They�re fighting for the right to merge with the world�s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere... There is a civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh government, which is publicly pursuing the Bush doctrine: if you�re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salva Judum - a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to become spos (special police officers). The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed ..... thousands tortured, and thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be proud of this record... to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence � revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates...does this mean that people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can�t find saints to lead them into battle?. "

Mr.Raman may ant to ask whether a people whose dignity is being assaulted will give up the fight because they can�t find saints to lead them into battle?

Disinformation warriors of Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka

Quotes Compiled by Sinhala Opposition Paper Sunday Leader, 14 December 2008

Date  Official Quote
May 28, 2007 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka "The LTTE has 4,000 cadres in the north. They are not its best cadres. If they lose 2,000 cadres, they are finished."
December 30, 2007 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka "LTTE has 3,000 cadres remaining. Military plans to kill them within six months. Our daily target is to kill at least 10 LTTE terrorists."
January 11, 2008 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka  "My term of office is coming to an end this year and I will not leave this war to the succeeding army commander."
February10, 2008 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka  "They are an organised force with a lot of experience. They have thousands of fighters. I do not conduct the war looking at deadlines and timeframes. The LTTE has around 5,000 fighters. This time when we take Kilinochchi, we will not leave it after a while. But we must realise that the offensive is going to take time."
February19, 2008 Mahinda Rajapakse "We would have cleared them out of the remaining areas long ago but we also had to ensure no civilians were killed. I would say, in a year and a half, we might be able to do it."
February 22, 2008 Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara "But we have never said that we will finish them off. We have never set deadlines. We are fighting a terrorist organisation, not a conventional war." "The more we weaken them, then the more they will come into negotiations. It is not possible to wipe them out."
June 2008 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka "4,000 - 5000 Tigers remain." "They have lost that capability, although they are fighting with us, not in the same manner like earlier. They had the defensive lines, we couldn't move even one kilometre for two or three months. That kind of resistance is not there any more."
    "May be a maximum of one year from now onwards the LTTE should lose large areas." "They should not be able to maintain their present control over the population, to be able to resist the army in the way they are resisting now. They would have to lose all that capability."
    "Even if we finish the war, capture the whole of the north, still the LTTE might have some members joining them."
    "There are people who believe in Tamil nationalism. The LTTE might survive another even two decades with about 1,000 cadres. But we will not be fighting in the same manner. It might continue as an insurgency forever."
September 12, 2008 Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka 11,000 Tigers killed since July 2006. Only 4,000 Tigers remain.


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