Tuesday`s abortive LTTE strike in Vavuniya came as no surprise. It was not the first. Nor will it be the last. There will be many more of them in time to come and if the armed forces allow themselves to be lulled into complacency, there will be disaster.
The LTTE`s sagging morale suffered another blow on Tuesday. It lost not only a group of its best combatants but also one of its light aircraft. But, the military ought to stop bragging about its success and ask itself why the LTTE is targeting the radar stations in and around the Wanni so frantically. The LTTE is obviously trying to ensure the safety of its aircraft engaged in crude bombing missions.
However, that may not be the only reason why it is going for the SLAF radar installations. It was only the other day that we reported the LTTE was building a second airstrip capable of taking heavy aircraft, in Mullaitivu. Is it trying to blind the SLAF by destroying the radar systems in the Wanni so that a big bird could land with warlike goodies on the newly built runway, maybe never to fly back?
Prabhakaran is doing his damnedest to live up to the unrealistic expectations of the Diaspora living in clover advocating and funding a war from a safe distance. He has taken upon himself a task which he is not simply equal to. But, he, being the demigod that he thinks he is, cannot afford to fail, having busted billions of rupees, killed thousands of civilians and sacrificed about twenty thousand LTTE cadres for his macabre cause. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for the peace loving people of this country, he has the same chances as a cat in hell of winning this war.
Even if small bands of Prabhakaran`s brainwashed cadres were to succeed in taking high profile targets, he wouldn`t be able to turn the tables on the military. For, this county has been inoculated against terrorism thanks to the overdoses of violence he has administered to the populace at regular intervals. He has struck at every conceivable nerve centre and assassinated a Head of State and a large number of other VVIPs. But, the country has not only bounced back but also beaten him at his own game. So, Prabhakaran has no way of avoiding a crushing defeat.
Even the staunchest of Prabhakaran`s supporters have given up hope of reversing the government`s military campaign. Earlier they were boasting that Kilinochchi was impregnable but today they have changed their tune. They are now claiming that the government may win the battle but not the war. Hope seems to spring eternal in the feline breast as well! They are trying to give the country a scare by claiming that the LTTE will revert to a far more destructive guerrilla war and make a comeback.
Yes, the LTTE will retreat into the jungles after the fall of Kilinochchi but it is only wishful thinking that it will be able to regain its former self. True, it began its struggle as a small band of guerrillas and built itself to the level of a quasi conventional force in control of a `de facto state`. But, today the factors that facilitated its rise and expansion are no longer there.
At the inception of the LTTE s armed struggle, ethnic tensions and crimes against Tamils gave its terror project a turbo boost. It had India on its side and could depend on the central government for refuge, training, arms and funds. It managed to spurn India only after it had come of age.
When the LTTE unveiled its terrorism, the State was not equipped to respond to it appropriately. The country was without adequate military personnel, material and international backing. Bans on the LTTE were not even dreamt of at that stage. Prabhakaran was not known for what he really was. There were long lines of young adventurous volunteers to join the fighting units of the LTTE, as they looked upon Prabhakaran as a messiah of sorts. Prabhakaran`s problem at that time was how to accommodate so many youth in his ranks. At the international level, the developed countries were not so averse to terrorism, which they thought would never be their problem.
But, today, the LTTE has antagonised India. It stands banned in a number of powerful western countries, where it once enjoyed total freedom to operate and raise funds. It can no longer deceive the world into believing that it is a liberation movement.
It has been without volunteers for years and is therefore forcibly recruiting men, women and children even grandpas and grandmas! That shows the following it has in the North!
At the beginning, the LTTE went into the jungles as a promising guerrilla outfit with a high morale led by a leader determined to win. But, when Kilinochchi falls, it will go back into the jungles as a failed terrorist group led by a leader struggling to survive. Who will repose trust in a man who has failed to accomplish his mission for twenty five years? Prabhakaran is not getting any younger either. His best years are over. He is the LTTE and the LTTE he. No one will be able to hold the outfit together as he has done all these years in spite of his failure to achieve his goal.
Moreover, the LTTE has killed thousands of its rivals and made tens of thousands of enemies. Foremost on the minds of its enemies must be taking revenge the day Prabhakaran`s killing machine is dismantled in the Wanni.
Most of all, all the Tamil militant groups that chose the path of terror together with the LTTE have parted company with it and entered the democratic mainstream. They will move in to fill the vacuum in the Northern Province after the LTTE is dislodged, the way they did in the East a few months ago. Those parts of the country will be developed after a lapse of twenty five years. Democracy and development are the most effective weapons against the dark forces of terrorism.
The LTTE has always had a base to coordinate its terror attacks and arms smuggling operations except for a brief period under the IPKF, which would have wiped it out but for the late President Premadasa`s intervention. If the LTTE is capable of waging a more effective war from the jungles, then why is Prabhakaran losing so many of its precious cadres and so much of its treasured military material to defend Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu without making a beeline for the bush?
A flight to the jungles will only delay the disintegration of the LTTE. That is why Prabhakaran is holding out in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu with might and main. He is aware that the jungles are not as safe as they used to be: He must be prepared for a different battle with the Special Forces operating there.
Prabhakaran has his work cut out. To be or not to be must be his question.