War in Sri Lanka: the Government versus LTTE

Escalating Violence in the Sri Lankan Peninsula

It is widely believed that Sri Lanka has slipped back towards a full-fledged civil war. Currently there are few indications of a politically sustainable solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. On the contrary, an environment conducive to violent clashes has been developing. What the conflict resolution experts and analysts had predicted about possible scenarios for future war in Sri Lanka seems to be coming true.
Many had argued in the past that low intensity conflict and the limited war would finally lead to a total war. It seems now that the country has entered a full-fledged war.The latest military operations over Mavilaru dispute last year had led experts to believe that a war is already on. A ceasefire exists on paper but in practice, there seems to have been no cease-fire agreement.
The activities of the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE since last December indicate a gradual progression towards war.
The statement made by the LTTE in Oslo on 9 June 2006 was believed to be a strong message that the organization prefers war to other methods of achieving their goals. The senior leaders of the LTTE had hinted at the possibilities of war in the near future.
The government, on the other hand, preferred military operations against the LTTE, as it believes this approach would help strengthen its hand politically.
The LTTE blamed the government for not fulfilling the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) and allowing the paramilitary forces to weaken them.
“No Sinhala government has so far fulfilled the promises reached in the negotiations and therefore there is no point in believing the government that would genuinely engage in the peace process. There have been four failed negotiation processes in the last 20 years and each one of these failed processes led to war,” a statement issued by the LTTE read.
The perception of the LTTE is that the present context in the south would not lead to a fair solution based on self-determination. The LTTE thus, has adopted war as a tool to condition a more conducive situation that would advance their goals.
At the same time, there is need for the LTTE to create a new balance of power to be in a better bargaining position in the event of another negotiation. There was a balance of power at the beginning of the ceasefire agreement. In the recent past, the previous status quo has been titlting in favour of Sri Lankan government because of its military victories in the east. The LTTE, in turn, believes that launching massive attacks would shift the balance of power and enable them to enter negotiations on a stronger footing.
It is in this context that LTTE prefers war as its modus operandi and any predictions about the future can be made with little certainty.
Mathangi Selvarajah

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