Prabhakaran is finally left with less than one tenth of the land area he used to hold before July 2006, when he made his worst ever military blunder by throwing down the gauntlet at Mavil Aru. When he ordered the capture and subsequent closure of an irrigation scheme there, he may not have thought his action would trigger a military avalanche threatening his very survival within two years.
Now that the army has taken Pooneryn back and is advancing eastwards with two more columns moving southward from the Jaffna peninsula, the fall of Elephant Pass and Kilinochchi is only a matter of time. His cadres will have to flee before long.
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said in an interview with ITN on Thursday night that according to military intelligence the LTTE was down to 3,000 fighters. It, he said, was losing cadres at the rate of about 500 per month. It also seems to be experiencing a severe shortage of arms and ammunition, as evident from its increasing dependence on improvised shells in a bid to thwart the army’s rapid advance on several fronts in the Vanni.
Prabhakaran may defend Kilinochchi until he makes his heroes day speech in a few days. Thereafter, he will be lost between the army and the deep blue sea in Mullaitivu. What he is planning to do in such an eventuality remains to be seen. The Army Commander is of the view that he might leave the country either by air or by sea.
While the Tigers are stewing in their own juice, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked Prabhakaran to lay down arms and come for talks. This may seem a gesture of magnanimity, but is Prabhakaran in a position to reciprocate? Karuna and Chandrakanthan were able to bid farewell to Eelam and enter the democratic mainstream but Prabhakaran is a different kettle of fish. He cannot afford the luxury of democracy as he has crossed the Rubicon in his terrorist war.
Prabhakaran arrogantly spurned all the opportunities to give up violence during the last twenty years. The best chance he had was when India intervened on his behalf, saved him from death at the hands of the army at Vadamarachchi in 1987 and offered a devolution package. He could also have accepted peace offers from the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, President Chandrika Kumaratunga and even from President Rajapaksa. Had he been wise enough to take the tide in the affairs of the LTTE at the flood that would have led on to fortune. But, he omitted it and his voyage of separatism is in shallows and he is losing his terrorist venture. Arrogance precedes downfall.
Now it is too late for Prabhakaran to mend his ways. He has become a prisoner of his own violence, having killed so many of his rivals as well as his own cadres due to personality clashes. His survival hinges on his ability to spill more blood in the most brutal manner. He has to slay or be slain. That is the way he has managed to ward off threats to his life and leadership. How he eliminated his deputy Mahattaya or Mahendran and over 200 others is a case in point. Karuna, too, would have been killed, if he had not broken away.
Karuna and Chandrakanthan were fortunate as they could leave the LTTE before it began to collapse and lay the blame for all their sins at Prabhakaran’s doorstep. On the other hand, they have not been convicted of any crimes whereas Prabhakaran has been sentenced to 200 years RI. No country is demanding the extradition of Karuna or Chandrakanthan but India wants Prabhakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman over the Rajiv assassination. So, how can they ever come out and engage in democratic politics?
Prabhakaran made the mistake of promising the Eelam lobby the sun and the moon. Those who sought a separate state poured billions of rupees into his war chest and backed him to the hilt in a bid to achieve their goal from a safe distance in the same manner as the hapless people who deposited their money with Sakvithi on the sly. Prabhakaran kept pandering to the whims and fancies of his sponsors, as that was the only way he could build the LTTE and nurse his massive ego. He has never ever said he will settle for anything less than Eelam. But, at the same time he cannot honour his pledge to take his followers to the Promised Land, as he is not equal to the task of dismembering this country. He may have realised that he had embarked on a Sisyphean project a long time ago, but he may not have expected to be exposed as a failure so early.
It is unthinkable that he will ever respond positively to President Rajapaksa’s call. For him, laying down arms from which he derives power will be tantamount to plain suicide. He, it may be recalled, has ordered his cadres to shoot him dead if he ever accepts anything other than Eelam. Even if nobody carries out that order, the Diaspora that has kept him and his war going for so many years will not forgive him for his failure and concession of defeat.
Therefore, Prabhakaran will have to go on fighting hoping for some miracle. He has no escape route open thanks to his military miscalculations which led to the Vanni offensive. No amount of terror strikes is going to help him take the military off his back at this juncture. This country has not given in to his terrorism in the past. Nor will it ever!
Prabhakaran sowed the wind and is reaping the whirlwind. He has no one to blame but himself for his sorry plight.
It may be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the Tiger chief to enter democratic politics.