The LTTE says it is preparing for the final war. We thought Prabhakaran had already launched it by throwing down the gauntlet at Mavilaru in keeping with his pledge in his heroes` day speech in November, 2005 to plunge the country back into war. The outfit has reportedly stepped up conscription and fund raising for that purpose. (`Final war` has apparently become a tag with which the LTTE tries to market all its offensives.) However, it is evident that the LTTE is getting ready for something big.
Having lost ignominiously in the East and unable to recapture Jaffna, the LTTE may want to go the whole hog in its effort to turn the tables on the government militarily. However, left with only a few thousand battle-hardened cadres, it cannot be oblivious to the fact that the chances of its scoring a decisive battlefield victory are remote.
Whenever the LTTE fights its way into a cul-de-sac on the military front, it finds an escape route via the political front. Having manipulated India to force parrippu down the late President J. R. Jayewardene`s throat and to make him abandon Operation Liberation, which almost finished the LTTE in the North in 1987, Prabhakaran later managed to survive the Indian army by getting the late President Premadasa to send the IPKF back home. Thereafter, he made several moves on the political front, which resulted in a spate of assassinations including those of President Premadasa and Gamini Dissanayake, who would have acted like President D. B. Wijetunga, who had cleared the Eastern Province and held Local Government elections there in 1993. With Gamini`s assassination, Prabhakaran cleared the way for Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga to become President, as he was certain that she would opt for appeasement rather than war. She had already offered him the North for a period of ten years without elections albeit in vain. It was a miscalculation on his part. When he scuttled the peace talks and pushed her to war in 1995, she wrested control of Jaffna. However, he managed to consolidate his power back in the East.
When he realised he had met his match in President Kumaratunga, he tried to remove her physically in 1999 so as to help the UNP capture state power. His plan went awry, as she survived the assassination bid. Before he could make another move to engineer her downfall, President Kumaratunga, true to form, ruined things for herself. A group of her party heavyweights defected to the UNP and Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe became Prime Minister, in 2001. Prabhakaran hurriedly declared an `unconditional` ceasefire and Ranil readily reciprocated.
Having obtained everything necessary for resuming the so-called Eelam War III during the truce, the LTTE ensured Ranil`s defeat by calling a polls boycott in the North and the East. For, it is believed that Prabharkan didn`t want a darling of the international community to become President. Prabhakaran wanted nothing but war and in Mahinda he saw a hawk, who, he thought, would antagonise the international community and make things easy for him. Hence, his declaration of war within days of President Rajapakse`s induction!
Hoist with his own petard, bloodied and humiliated, the LTTE is helpless as never before. Unlike in the past, its true face has been laid bare. The EU ban has come along and several other international bans are staring it in the face. The UN has placed it on its List of Shame for child conscription. The breakaway of Karuna has debilitated its military muscle. It has become too embarrassing for even its closest international allies. The naval blockade off the eastern coast and international cooperation that Sri Lanka has secured to bust arms smuggling rackets, besides successful forays and air raids by the military have rendered the LTTE weak. Help from South India is not forthcoming for the outfit and the Rajiv assassination has cost it assistance from the Centre.
For the first time, the Tigers have lost both the East and Jaffna and are without anyone to take them off the hook. Although they remain a formidable guerrilla force, they don`t appear to be in a position to reverse the military gains of the government in so spectacular a manner as to boost the sagging morale of its cadres and sympathizers, at least immediately. Therefore, Prabhakran is likely to try to take his next battle to the political front the way he has done in the past in times of crises to bring about a seismic change in the southern politics and thereby a radical shift in the state policy towards the LTTE. It won`t baulk at anything to achieve its objective.
Hence, the pressing need for those leaders whom the LTTE is zeroing in on is to be wary flirting with danger! The LTTE has to be lucky only once.
It has been lucky more than once in the past!