The "Long War" in Miniature
The Strategy Page looks at the Sri Lankan campaign against the Tamil Tigers.
July 13, 2007: In response to the lost of their eastern territory, which was about half the area controlled by the rebels, the LTTE said it would now concentrate attacks on economic targets, using its terrorist skills to cripple the national economy. There has been an increase in terrorist type attacks in the north, and the LTTE is apparently trying to goad the army and police into attacking the Tamil population around the capital and elsewhere on the island, to make these Tamils more willing to support LTTE terrorist operations. This shift to an emphasis on terrorist operations indicates that the LTTE is unsure of its ability to hang on in the north.
The LTTE must be one of the toughest, most determined insurgencies in the world. Until recently, they led the world in suicide bombings. They had innovative tactics which involved the use of mini-airstrikes against Sri Lankan airforce bases. They had makeshift naval forces. If the Sri Lankan government has actually managed to gain the upper hand on the LTTE the process is worth studying.
The conflict has many characteristics of a civil war. In 2002, the "international community" started a peace process, but hostilities resumed in 2005 and the fighting continues to this day. Since then the Sri Lankan government has won a string of victories, though the end of the war is by no means certain nor even in sight.