From zenith to nadir
Who is doing the toughest job in the world? Is it the US military commander in Afghanistan? Or, is it Sri Lanka's army chief? Their jobs are tough, no doubt. But, in our book, no one's job is tougher than that of Prabhakaran's speechwriter. Poor guy must be having a hard time drafting his boss’s speech for Thursday.
Prabhakaran has boasted that, if President Mahinda Rajapaksa thinks of taking Kilinochchi back, he is only daydreaming. This rhetorical statement has infused a great deal of hope into the LTTE combatants and sympathizers. Will Prabhakaran be able to live up to their expectations? Or, will he have to eat his words shortly? Kilinochchi is becoming increasingly indefensible for him owing to the sheer number of troops moving eastwards having secured the area west of the A-9 highway with two more columns moving out of the peninsula. But, fight Prabhakaran must to defend that township in keeping with his ill-advised vow.
November is the month when the Tiger chief usually roars. But, this time around, he may not be able to do so, if the string of ignominious defeats he has suffered during the last two years is any indication. In November 2005, the LTTE was stronger than ever thanks to a prolonged truce which had helped it rearm and regroup. The newly elected President Rajapaksa at that time in spite of being called a hawk was more than willing to carry forward the flawed peace process to please the international community. Everything was in the LTTE's favour and Prabhakaran could have waited a few more years without barbecuing the goose that laid the golden egg and jolting an otherwise pusillanimous government into offensive action. But for pushing President Rajapaksa against the wall and providing him with a casus belli, everything would have been hunky dory for the LTTE.
Today, the LTTE's struggle has reached its nadir. Even in 1987, when the military almost took Prabhakaran, he had India to save him and keep his campaign going. When he turned his back on India and paid dearly for that, he had the Premadasa government to turn to. Thereafter, he had Norway and several other countries to back him. In the late1990s, he managed to turn the tables on the military and in 2000 he made it to the outskirts of Jaffna having bagged Elephant Pass. He had almost brought the army to its knees because of the bungling of the then political leadership.
In 2001, after the terror strikes on the US and the subsequent global anti-terror drive, the LTTE managed to take refuge in a truce with a gullible UNF government and project the areas under its control as a de facto separate state. The 2001-2006 period marked the zenith of the LTTE's separatist struggle.
Then, splash, Prabhakaran plunged into the Mavil Aru anicut! The rest is history.
Thus, a fall from the zenith to nadir is the price that the LTTE has had to pay for its leader's quixotic military adventure in 2006. The capture of a sluice gate has cost the LTTE 90 per cent of the land it used to hold, several of its senior leaders, an entire fleet of ships and thousands of cadres. Worse, it has lost most of the Vanni to the army after twenty long years and is going to lose its self-styled administrative capital, Kilinochchi as well.
Time was when Black Tigers paraded streets for TV cameras during the heroes' day celebrations in the Vanni. But, the LTTE has come to such a pass that its defences have had to be manned by boys and girls and elderly civilians kept on the battlefront against their will. It is a crying shame that an outfit that took up arms vowing to liberate people has landed itself in such a situation that it is left with no alternative but to save itself at the expense of civilians.
The LTTE is also running short of lies to dupe the international community and Tamil Nadu. A few weeks ago, its Indian allies sought to blow the Vanni situation out of proportion. They claimed the army was committing genocidal violence against Tamil civilians. Their Goebbelsian tactics may have yielded some results but they forgot that their lies had a short lifespan. Before long, civilians who had been forcibly kept in the uncleared areas as a human shield availed themselves of the first opportunity to vote with their feet. During the last few days hundreds of people have fled into the government controlled areas. Thousands more are expected to flee the LTTE-held areas in the next few weeks. If the army had been committing genocide, would Tamil civilians have moved into areas under its control? (Would the Jews have ever walked into the Auschwitz death camp of their own volition?)
The problem with lying is that it takes a heavy toll on credibility. Even the Tamil Nadu political heavyweights don't seem to take the LTTE propaganda seriously any longer, as evident from a lack of popular support for the recent fast staged by a pro-LTTE celluloid hero with political ambitions. The resumption by the LTTE web organs of 'war coverage' is also an indication that the LTTE has realised the futility of trying to play the underdog card in Tamil Nadu to whip up anti-Sri Lanka feelings. Instead, the LTTE propagandists are back to the old game of exaggerating the casualty figures of the army in a bid to boost the morale of their cadres and cause political trouble for the government.
Prabhakaran is going to address his followers at the darkest hour of the LTTE with another major defeat staring it in the face. His terror empire is collapsing and his friends are unable to rise in his defence despite his entreaties. It will be interesting to hear what he has got to say on Thursday?