Checkmate only a move away - The Island Editorial
So much for Prabhakaran's much touted military strategy!
Today, the Vanni Tigers and the Dehiwala Tigers (in the zoo) are in the same predicament. They are without enough room to move about. Soon, the Vanni Tigers will have to stop running and decide whether to resist or give up.
The civilians they have taken with them at gunpoint as a human shield will turn out to be their biggest liability in that controlling them will turn out to be a Herculean task for the debilitated Tigers with thousands of them trying to flee. Use of violence against the captives who far outnumber the remaining LTTE cadres will prove to be counterproductive.
In the aftermath of the fall of Jaffna in 1995,c the LTTE resorted to the same tactics. But, a few months later, the displaced people returned to Jaffna leaving their ‘liberators' in Kilinochchi. This time around, there will be a difference. The LTTE cannot let go of civilians as their departure will enable the army to descend on the last terrorist bastions swiftly without fear of collateral damage.
Therefore, the fall of Mullaitivu is likely to see a popular uprising against the LTTE unless it releases the civilians in its clutches. Prabhakaran has landed himself in an unenviable position. He has no one to blame for his woes but himself. He shouldn't have captured Mavil Aru and plunged the country back into war.
It is being argued in some quarters that after losing the remaining pockets of resistance, the LTTE will revert to a guerrilla war. That would be possible only if the LTTE had any popular support. The LTTE manifestly has lost whatever support it had among the people. Else, Prabhakaran wouldn't have had to resort to coercion to take people to Mullaitivu. If he had been their William Wallace or Nelson Mandela, they would have gladly followed him wherever he went––even to the gallows.
The LTTE has also perpetrated many heinous crimes against civilians, who must be waiting for an opportunity to avenge those atrocities. This is what the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna)––the UTHR (J)––said about the public mood in the LTTE-held terrain about one year before the commencement of the Vanni offensive: "Several LTTE leaders who deal with the people know the extent of resentment and the curses uttered out of their hearing. Instances of popular jubilation have also been reported when air force bombers hit an LTTE target. At a place 12 miles north of the frontline, a senior LTTE leader told some friends, "Should the Army advance this far, the people would rebel against us!" –– (UTHR (J) Special Report No: 28, Dec. 04, 2007). The LTTE may have managed to delay a rebellion by uprooting people but it is sure to happen before long.