|Watching the blind side
...for the Scam to end all Scams...
Back to the Future
As our new masters fall over themselves to grant every demand of the LTTE - ceasefire, relaxing controls on goods usable by the LTTE for offensive and defensive purposes, easing restrictions on the smuggling of arms alias "fishing", reining in and demoralising the forces, turning a blind eye to child recruitment by the LTTE during the ceasefire dismantling security checks, signalling deproscription of the LTTE, inviting partisan Norway to facilitate, and generally abandoning all self-respect - an anxious people are being swept along in a mad rush that seems to be spinning out of control.
All eyes on the peace stampede
All eyes are now focused on the accelerating "peace process", which, like the runaway train on the Kandy line, is hurtling on without any brakes. The peaceniks are ecstatic; those who have tracked past fiascos are alarmed as previous mistakes are faithfully repeated along with new blunders; and the LTTE and NGOs pile on the pressure. Whatever the views of the public, attention is concentrated on the ongoing peace stampede, just as the audience at a magic show are mesmerised by whatever the magician wants them to look at, while he performs his sleight of hand out of the line of sight.
Expect the unexpected
While appeasement proceeds apace under cover of the fashionable euphemism "confidence- building", one must watch out for the brilliance of the LTTE in continually outwitting governments with the unexpected move. The rapidly escalating audacity of LTTE demands - not only from our government but from Indias - suggests that the ongoing charade may be a mask for a classic diversion tactic.
Let us dwell on just one possible scenario. In the headlong rush for "peace", momentum is building up for the swift pass on the blind side, a sprint through unguarded territory, and a winning touch-down. Consider the evidence.
Strategy and tactics for achieving Eelam
During the last two decades the LTTE has steadfastly upheld - and continues to uphold - their goal of a separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam, consisting of 30% of the land area and 60% of the coastline, with its capital Trincomalee, for the use of the 6% of Sri Lankas total population who live in the proposed territory of Eelam. The primary strategy has been terrorism, and the parallel strategy has been negotiation. When terrorism runs into difficulties, either because of military setbacks or, as presently, due to a world crackdown on terror, the LTTE switches to the negotiating track.
Within the negotiating track too they have a dual approach - the direct demand for Eelam and the oblique, coded tactic; the bludgeon and the rapier. Gauging that the direct demand to amputate Sri Lanka would be resisted at some point, the LTTE concocted a number of aliases for Eelam, in the hope that the low I.Q. of governments and people would enable the LTTE to pass these off as reasonable alternatives to Eelam. In fact, they were final stepping stones to Eelam.
Aliases for Eelam
The first alias was the Thimpu principles, which were in fact the components of Eelam presented at the Thimpu conference in 1985. Long afterwards, when ignorant governments and ministers had forgotten about Thimpu, the LTTE presented the Thimpu principles as a "reasonable alternative" to Eelam, to show their good faith. Incredibly, governments swallowed the story, and NGOs promoted it vigorously. No doubt there would have been uproarious laughter in the jungles of the Wanni.
The LTTE also produced, around the end of 1994, a proposal for a confederation consisting of two equal states of Sri Lanka and Tamil Eelam, with two Prime Ministers, two Cabinets, and a common President. They flew this kite intermittently.
A third proposal was a federal state of Sri Lanka with federal status for the Tamils. This has been aired from time to time, most recently by the TULFs Sivasithamparam.
A fourth alias was "permanent merger of the north and east." And a vaguer and elastic term - autonomy.
The previous government provided powerful help by devising an elaborate alias of its own-the so-called constitutional package. A little-known fact about the constitution is that it is based on the letter addressed by the TULF to Rajiv Gandhi in December 1985. The proposed constitution, which the TULFs Tiruchelvam and the PAs visiting genius played a large role in fashioning, would abolish the unitary status of Sri Lanka and devolve such enormous powers to regions that a) Sri Lanka would become politically and economically unmanageable; and b) the regions to be created under the new constitution, and in particular the northern and eastern regions, would find it easy to mount an UDI. The latest version was withdrawn in August 2000, but it could be revived.
The previous government and opposition provided further help with offers to the LTTE to administer the north and east. The current President offered Prabakaran the north for a period of ten years2. The current Prime Minister promised the LTTE autonomy and the administration of the north and east for two years3. What leaders we have been blessed with!
Whats in a name?
So we have the separate sovereign state of Eelam, which remains the unwavering goal of Prabakaran, and the array of aliases, equivalents or stepping-stones:
The Thimpu principles
The proposed new constitution of August 2000, withdrawn in the face of strong opposition, but not dead.
Federation, in the form of a Tamil Region within a federal Sri Lanka.
Confederation, consisting of two equal separate states with two Parliaments and one President.
An interim council for the north and east.
A permanent merger of the northern and eastern provinces.
Every one of these is the Eelam wolf in sheeps clothing. Every one of them involves the vesting of legal powers and recognition which would provide an ample basis for a successful Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Grant any of them and Sri Lanka is doomed to early irrevocable, unstoppable dismemberment.
Provoking a crisis?
The aliases were kept in the wings, and briefly unveiled periodically, for a purpose, to use at just such a time as the present. Taking advantage of a naive and gullible government, the LTTE is piling on the pressure as never before - in fact, so fast that one wonders what is afoot.
The LTTE are the most expert negotiators in the business, unlike their starry-eyed counterparts. They know just how far they can turn the screws. Is the LTTE deliberately trying to precipitate a situation where even the most naive peacenik would balk at the continuing stream of demands?
Already there are signs that the Sinhalese are awakening from their slumber to the dangers of agreeing to every wish of the LTTE. But this time the purpose of creating deadlock may be not just to re-start terrorism but to play its trump card.
The Trump Card
And here is the secret weapon. The LTTE could, with all the histrionics in which they excel, put on a performance worthy of an Academy Award. Abandoning the current peace circus, they could feign a touching change of heart. They could present themselves as reasonable men and announce, "In the cause of peace, we will accept a reasonable alternative to Eelam, i.e., governments acceptance of the Thimpu Principles/the new constitution/federation/confederation/interim council/permanent merger/autonomy."
Indeed, on April 15, 2001 LTTE deputy chief Thamilchelvam was quoted by PTI as saying, "The name is immaterial. Federation, confederation, northeast council, autonomous region, we can accept any of these solutions so long as we are guaranteed our equal rights."4
The ultimate scam
Of course this would be the mother of all scams. The LTTE would not be agreeing to an alternative to Eelam. They would be as committed to Eelam as ever, but trying to circumvent resistance to Eelam by presenting one or more of the aliases they have assiduously nurtured for years as acceptable alternatives. But in effect, the LTTE would be saying, "As a reasonable alternative to Eelam, we will accept Eelam!"
Watch the blind side!
The irony is that, given the souths blissful ignorance of the history and intricacies of the struggle for Eelam, it is quite possible that such a ploy would be rapturously received by politicians and public. It would certainly be passionately sponsored by the NGO/embassy mafia, who have been promoting Eelam insidiously for years for their own purposes. Crackers would be lit and there would be dancing in the streets - unless the public is alerted in advance about the LTTEs ultimate scam - the presence of giving up Eelam, while hoodwinking the south into accepting Eelam by another name.
So watch the blind side!
1. Reported in Sunday Island of January 8, 1995.
2 Reported in TIME magazine of February 9, 1998, p.46
3 Reported in Daily News of November 12, 1999, quoting Tamilnet of November 10, 1999
4 PTI report detained London, April 15, 2001 citing a Sunday Times story. Published in The Hindu website indiaserver.com in its News Update at 18.00 hrs (IST) on April 15, 2001.
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