Friday, January 4, 2008
Setting the stage for more violence
Sri Lanka's government has announced it is formally pulling out of a "cease-fire" with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that was brokered by Norwegian mediators in 2002. Although both sides claim to abide by the agreement, it has been repeatedly violated amid the continuing battles taking place across the countryside between government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels, along with the LTTE's repeated use of terrorism against both civilian and military targets.
Well over 5,000 people have been killed in the brutal ethnic conflict since the cease-fire was announced and Sri Lankan government officials have declared it "irrelevant". The UN is fearing for the safety of civilians as truce monitors get ready to pack up and leave, and a violent showdown is sure to break out when the agreement officially expires on January 16th. Nevertheless, violence has flared even while the cease-fire remains in effect. Clashes erupted in the northern part of the country on Friday and the LTTE was suspected in an IED attack on a military convoy on Wednesday.
The cease-fire never did any good because neither side was interested in peace. This is a conflict that requires a political solution and cannot be won through military and guerilla warfare. If the Tamil Tigers truly want an independent state, they should disarm, renounce terrorism, and approach the west to help them make their case to the Sri Lankan government in Colombo. The only drawback to such a plan would be that it could parallel the situation in Gaza, where Hamas and Fatah have been fighting over the notion of a peace deal with Israel.