Recently the FBI had a story on the terrorist group operating in Sri Lanka - LTTE. If you don't know what these guys are like then you should take a look at that story; it'll shock you how much of a global terrorist player they are. And maybe it'll help you avoid supporting them .. unwittingly.
There has been much hullabaloo over the Sri Lankan government deciding to abrogate the "cease fire" that has been in place since 2002. We did have a somewhat real cease fire for a short time- but for the last 3 or so years that's really just been a joke. During this "ceasefire" the LTTE has killed the most well respected Tamil leader in Sri Lanka (former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar) and a bunch of other politicians, killed several military leaders, and killed hundreds of civilians. The worst single attack was this one, which killed 64 innocent people.
So there really hasn't been a cease fire here at all for at least the last 2-3 years. All we had was a piece of paper which was a joke. What the government did is to recognize reality. The crocodile tears shed by the world is such a damned joke its not even funny.
LTTE is currently running a de facto state in a part of Sri Lanka. That is not a viable basis to solve the real underlying problems which are the root cause of terrorism in Sri Lanka. While there is no military solution to those problems, there has to be a military solution to stopping a terrorist group from having bases, having a navy, having an air force, and running a virtual state within a state.
So it looks like 2008 is going to be a tough year for Sri Lanka - the government has decided to deal with the terrorist threat head-on and of course LTTE will do its best to respond. In the last week they've responded by having a small roving group attack and kill civilians in the south (another claymore mine attack against a bus and then an attack on a village) .. all an attempt to reduce focus on the north where the military is clearly gaining an advantage over them. I certainly do believe it is possible to "kick them out" of being a de facto state.
However, that's akin to the US kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan. The key is what happens next - kicking them out is the relatively easy part.
The hard part is going to be coming up with a political solution to the underlying discriminatory root causes that have been set up and exploited by every political party since independence (nearly 60 years ago .. on Feb 4th). The current government does not have parliamentary strength to do this on its own- it needs to bring the opposition parties along to a reasonable moderate solution (undoubtedly involving devolution of power). If they fail to do that and do it fast, we'll have in Sri Lanka what the US finds in Iraq and Afghanistan - do the easy part and fail at the hard part of solving the underlying issues.
Successive central governments in Sri Lanka have miserably failed at improving the lot of rural folks. Apparently a staggering 60% or so of ALL development funds since independence have been spent on the Western province - one of 9 provinces and the one in which Colombo sits. So not only should Tamil people be revolting against central government but Sinhalese and Muslims and all others outside of the Western provide should too! We absolutely need a decentralized form of government where the local region decides what they want to do it and does it - the central form has failed us miserably. Many Sinhalese are against a federal solution to the demands of Tamil people, but if you look at how badly Sinhalese people in the south, north and everywhere except the Western provide have been treated, they should be demanding a federal system more than Tamil people!
Will our military be able to reduce LTTE to a real terrorist group (and not one that's running a de facto state)? I'm certain it can. Do our Colombo-based politicians have the will and desire to take power away from themselves and enable the 9 provinces to really develop themselves? Unfortunately I'm not convinced ..
If we don't solve the underlying issues then we may be able to live "in peace" for a few years - but the revolt will not go away .. it'll come back once again in time to come.