Colombo promoting Karuna to destroy LTTE – US think tank

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 July 2004, 12:35 GMT]
Former LTTE Commander Karuna's defection was supported at the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government with tacit US approval, press reports quoted US geopolitical analysts as saying this week.

"The plan is to destabilize the Tigers, bait the group into confrontation and ultimately launch an offensive aimed at destroying the fractured Tamil movement once and for all," the analysts at Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) said quoting unnamed sources inside the Sri Lankan government.

If Karuna continued his denunciation of the LTTE leadership, it could result in a renewed round of fighting between the movement and his group - "something Colombo is not only hoping for, but also is actively trying to promote," the US analysts, were quoted by UNI as saying.

"Colombo would like nothing more than to see the Tigers weakened by internal fighting along with struggles over how the peace process should be approached," Stratfor said.

That was why, Stratfor said, the Sri Lankan government provided tacit support to Karuna during his rebellion and still is in regular contact with him.

Colombo probably hopes a renewed guerrilla war will be tempered by internal struggles and that, once weakened, the Tigers can be destroyed, the US analysts said.

Although he denies support was never offered, numerous figures within the Sri Lankan government have suggested that Colombo is supporting Karuna, UNI reported.

After being out of sight for three months following the crushing of his six-week rebellion by the LTTE in an offensive over the Easter weekend, Karuna resurfaced last week, holding interviews with Sri Lankan state radio and the BBC's Tamil news service.

"By coming forward after his well-publicized defeat at the hands of the Tigers, Karuna will likely generate more support for his drive to oust the Tiger leadership," Stratfor said, arguing Karuna still enjoyed support in his home Batticaloa district.

Pointing out that during his interview with the BBC, Karuna implied he would be interested in running for political office, Stratfor said "[He] probably knows that by returning to the public eye and expressing an interest in politics, he will become a high-profile target for Tiger assassins."

"With that in mind, it is possible Karuna intended for his return to induce infighting and further weaken the Tigers,” the US analysts said.

"But the Tigers have been fighting Colombo for decades, and there is little chance there will be any resolution [of the renewed conflict] without considerable bloodshed on both sides.”

According to the US analysts, in the event of a renewed war “the Tigers will likely end up weaker - perhaps no longer in a position to make the demands for autonomy that helped cause the internal strife in the first place.”

“On the other hand, baiting a wounded tiger could be a dangerous game," they cautioned.

“With peace talks stalled until the Tigers change their demands or Colombo gives in, negotiators are in for a long wait."

Stratfor describes itself as “the world's leading private intelligence firm providing corporations, governments and individuals with geopolitical analysis and forecasts that enable them to manage risk and to anticipate political, economic and security issues vital to their interests.”


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