LTTE Lite?

In his WPR feature article (sub. req.) on the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka, Brian Calvert discussed how LTTE’s chances for surviving the military eradication it suffered on the island depended on the Tamil diaspora:

The Tigers were such a formidable guerrilla army because of theirglobal operations, and LTTE’s international network remains in place.What happens next will be determined by how well the international armis able to recover from the loss of its leader, and how well it managesto maintain its vast fundraising capacity. . . .

The Tigers were a highly centralized network centered aroundPrabhakaran and senior leaders in the northern town of Kilinochchi.When Sri Lankan forces overran the town, the loss of the centralleadership struck a blow to the Tigers’ international organization aswell. In its current state, the LTTE is unlikely to be a threat to SriLanka. However, because many of the root causes behind the insurgencyremain, the group — or one like it — could re-emerge.

Today comes news of the first indications, admittedly a bit vague, of how the diaspora intends to proceed:

In an e-mailed audio file that has flown around the Tamil diaspora,the rebels’ head of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan,said that the group was reorganising to pursue its goal of a separateTamil state from outside Sri Lanka. . . .

Mr Pathmanathan gave no indication that the group would renounceviolence but announced the establishment of a “provisionaltransnational government of Tamil Eelam”, which would decide on acourse of action “within democratic principles”. Tamil Eelam is thename given by the Tigers to the north and eastern areas of Sri Lanka towhich they lay claim.

The reference to democratic principles is significant, the Guardian explains, because the insurgency’s charismatic (and now deceased) leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had resisted democratizing the movement.

As Calvert also emphasized, the future of the insurgency also depends on how the Sri Lanka manages the defeated Tamil strongholds. So far the indications have not been very encouraging. Whether or not it engages with a democratized LTTE movement, should the latter renounce violence, might end up being a signal of things to come as well.

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