|SL can’t crush Tigers, says
Gota locks horns on statement
There is no way the Sri Lankan government will be able to
crush the LTTE and giving wide political autonomy to the Tamil
people is the only answer, a leading European counter-terrorism
expert told the Reuters news agency yesterday, prompting a swift
rebuttal from government quarters.
Former Director of the European Centre for the Study of
Conflicts, Dr. Gerard Chaliand, spoke with the international
news service on the sidelines of the International Conference on
Countering Terrorism held in Colombo last week, at which he was
“No way, you can’t crush the Tigers,” Chaliand told Reuters
journalist Simon Gardner, “Technically speaking they are the
most efficient movement at present in the world.” “Before them
I’ve seen two others which were outstanding.
The Vietnamese, and the EPLF from Eritrea – they won. The Tigers
are the third one,” he added. “You don’t crush those guys with
the Sri Lankan Army, which by the way, is not the best in the
However, Reuters also reported that Defence Secretary Gotabaya
Rajapaksa disagreed with Chaliand, saying that the international
expert does not understand the ground realities.
“I don’t agree with that at all. I’m sure we are the best when
you talk about counter-terrorism, who else has had to do this?”
Rajapaksa told the news agency. “He can’t make a comment like
that, it’s not logical.”
The Defence Secretary added that Dr. Chaliand did not know what
arms the military is using or about the morale of either side.
Chaliland, in his keynote address at the inauguration of the
conference last Thursday, described the LTTE as a totalitarian
killing machine and told Reuters that removing its leader
Velupillai Prabhakaran from the equation would help, but the
answer is to give significant autonomy to minority Tamils, which
the government has so far failed to do.
“The grievances of the Tamils are legitimate, they are part of
this country, they should have a place in it as a recognised
minority, whether it is in the framework of political autonomy
or a federation,” Chaliand said.