Manekshaw Paper No. 22
Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict: How Eelam War IV Was Won: Maj Gen Ashok Mehta, AVSM (Retd)
How did Sri Lanka’s current generation of political and military leaders manage to pull off a brilliant but brutal military victory, defying all predictions and assessments that comprehensive battlefield success against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was not feasible? The synergy of political will, military doggedness, unrestrained resources, diplomatic agility and the backing of the majority Sinhalese community produced the winning formula that dared to spurn the calls for restraint and ceasefire from the Western world and humanitarian agencies. The best-kept secret is India’s decisive role in helping Colombo win the war.
The paper traces the background to the failed negotiations with the LTTE and the wars fought by earlier regimes to maintain a line of control that ran along Mannar-Vavuniya-Mullaithivu, yielding control from the North of this line to the Tigers, while ferociously guarding Trincomalee harbour in the east. The eastern and northern offensives culminated in the fateful ‘last battle’ fought on a coastal strip off Mullaithivu. It will be difficult for less resolute countries to replicate the elimination of a deadly guerilla force like the LTTE. Yet, for now, the ethnic conflict is far from over.
The full Mankeshaw Paper is in PDF format click here to locate the article in CLAWS webpage
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