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News


SL can’t crush Tigers, says terror expert

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 keynote speaker.

“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 world.”
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.

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