Belmont Club

Elephant pass

The BBC reports that a conventional victory against the Tamil Tigers may be in sight. “The Sri Lankan army has captured Elephant Pass, the strategic causeway linking the Jaffna peninsula with the mainland, the president has said.”

Analysts say the government is now in control of the A9 highway and can supply troops and the residents of Jaffna by land. The rebels had held a 100km (60 mile) stretch since 2000, forcing the government to use expensive sea and air routes. … The focus now falls on the sole remaining major Tiger base, at Mullaitivu in the east. …

Separately, the military said a roadside bomb set off in the east by rebels had killed seven people. The blast took place at Morawewa, outside the city of Trincomalee, on Friday morning as a convoy escorted by troops passed by, a statement on the defence ministry website said.

The IED attack on the Sri Lankan convoy may suggest what the Tigers plan to do when they can no longer resist conventionally. But every insurgency needs a secure place for its leadership. Where will the Tigers get theirs? The BBC thinks the Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran will either try to find a sanctuary in another country or hide in the jungle.

Some argue that he may choose to flee to India. But that would have to be under cover because he is wanted by the Indian authorities for his role in the murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi while election campaigning in 1991.

Another option would be for him to remain hiding in the thick jungle of northern Sri Lanka – but that too would be risky as the Sri Lankan military presence grows stronger in the area.

A third possibility is the rebel leader re-starting a guerrilla war in the south as well as the north. Whatever option he chooses, it is unlikely that Mr Prabhakaran – who advises his cadres to swallow cyanide capsules if they are captured – will be taken alive.

My guess is that Prabhakaran will prefer to find sanctuary across an international border — maybe even in the West. From there he can keep things stirred up in a low-level way indefinitely.