Sri Lanka: Assessment of the End-Game

Thomas A. Marks


Much has already been written concerning the dramatic climax of three decades of war in Sri Lanka.  Still, much remains to be assessed.  This is imperative, for the conflict, one of the most complex in recent history, provides a window into the heart of 21st century “new war.” The insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) privileged terrorism as a method of action yet ultimately fielded land, air, and sea regular forces, rounded out by powerful special operations and information capabilities. LTTE grew in capacity until it was capable of forcing the government to agree to a February 2002 ceasefire and the de facto existence of a Tamil state, or Tamil Eelam. It was this victory of sorts that produced a host of unforeseen consequences and led to the July 2006 resumption of hostilities that resulted in May 2009 total victory in the field for Colombo.

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