The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are a "Wounded Tiger"

According to an analysis by the Indian-based South Asia Analysis Group, since March 2004, the LTTE has suffered a series of setbacks that influence both its ability to wage renewed war and its willingness to make peace. The setbacks include the breakaway of the Karuna faction in the Eastern Province; the physical damage wrought by the December2004 tsunami; the Canadian government’s decision to ban the LTTE (thus compromising its ability to collect funds from the Tamil diaspora); fears of similar action in Australia; and indications that after losing the empathy of many member-countries of the European Union, it may also lose the empathy of Norway, the facilitator of the peace process.

The Sri Lankan president’s policies seem influenced by the belief that the LTTE has been weakened to the point where it cannot resume its insurgency and that the government can therefore drive a hard bargain.

President Mahinda Rajpakse has also been trying to play the “Muslim card” in the Eastern Province—setting Tamil-speaking Muslims against Tamil-speaking Hindus and Christians (the latter constitute the bulk of LTTE supporters). His reported decision to raise a Muslim regiment in the army is fraught with dangers.

But doing so runs the risk of contributing to a pan-Islamic radicalization of the Tamil Muslim community, particularly against the backdrop of Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba extremist group attempting to gain a foothold by recruiting Sri Lankan Muslims working in the Persian Gulf. Muslim anger may well end up being directed against not just against the LTTE but Sri Lankan society as a whole.

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B. Raman, “Sri Lanka: The Wounded Tiger,” South Asia Analysis Group (India), Paper No. 46, 23 April 2006.