The Military Column

9th June 1996

New foreign policy to counter LTTE

By Our Military Analyst

The government is currently looking at the need to revise Sri Lanka's classical foreign policy of liaison with foreign countries. This review has been initiated in response to the latest developments in the international scene by the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Of the three million Tamils some half a million live abroad and they are currently being mobilized by the LTTE to support the war effort of the LTTE. According to Sri Lankan and foreign analysts some 50 percent of the LTTE budget is generated overseas.

How will the government prevent the inflow of monies to the LTTE? Can it be done by monitoring the flow of currency into Sri Lanka or can it be prevented by actively counter lobbying the LTTE overseas. Or should there be a multipronged strategy aimed at both these areas?

When the governments of the centre in New Delhi and the state in Madras supported Tamil militancy from October 1983 to August 1987, the Sri Lankan defence and military officials said that as long as support for Tamil militants in Sri Lanka existed the war against Tamil militants could not be brought to a successful end.

Today, by establishing links away from India, both in the west and the east, the LTTE has overcome the absence of a nearby base. The LTTE has replaced its speed boats capable of shuttling between South India and Jaffna with deep seagoing ships shuttling between Eastern Europe or the Mid-East and Mullaitivu.

The arms and the explosives link can be broken not only by stepping up surveillance on vessels entering Sir Lankan waters but by also harming the LTTE capacity and capability to raise funds overseas. As long as there is money there will be thousands of arms dealers, suppliers and transporters willing to sell weapons and explosives to the LTTE.

Therefore, the key to dampening the LTTE war effort is to prevent the LTTE from procuring armaments. One of the ways of meeting this necessity is to counter the LTTE propaganda and to wean the Tamil diaspora away from the LTTE.

The current machinery of the government to fight the LTTE overseas is weak. The government can make this machinery strong by allocating more resources and personnel. The government can make this machinery work efficiently only by providing proper leadership.

Towards meeting this end, the government is at present exploring the possibilities of institutionalizing an effective counter propaganda network.

Interestingly the LTTE has been playing a very prominent role overseas since Thunderstrike, Riviresa, I, II and III. The LTTE focus has been to persuade foreign governments to pressurize the Sri Lankan government to halt the offensive aimed at taking Jaffna, the Tamil heartland.

The LTTE efforts have failed to shift international public opinion. However the fact that a large number of refugees and displaced persons were created as a result of these series of operations has created the right environment for the LTTE to raise money from the Tamils.


Interestingly the new wave of displaced persons and refugees will not be as sympathetic to the LTTE as those who left Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the July 1983 riots.

Meanwhile the LTTE is planning to organize another series of meetings in Europe and in North America against the decision of the government to strike Kilinochchi. The LTTE having developed Kilinochchi as a back up base and their new capital fears an assault by the Sri Lankan forces during the next few weeks.

Security and intelligence analysts forecast that the LTTE international network will heighten their activity in the next few weeks in an effort to pressurize Colombo through foreign governments and international NGO's.

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