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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

The Colombo Crisis

Chandrika's new draconian laws and an arms-buying spree may not be enough to halt the LTTE

The Colombo Crisis
The Colombo Crisis
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Coming from the head of state, it was a remark that spoke volumes about the acute threat Colombo is facing. When Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga met opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to brief him on the military situation in the Jaffna peninsula, she had to confess that "the situation is critical". Indeed, since April 21, when Tamil separatist rebels captured the strategically crucial Elephant Pass military complex-the gateway to the peninsula-the island nation is facing an unprecedented military and political crisis. For, since then, the rebels have made rapid gains, moving further north and raising fears about the safety of about 40,000 government troops trapped in the region.

"The big question is whether the army can hold Jaffna when 10,000 troops couldn’t defend a crucial garrison from an attack force of no more than 4,000," says Iqbal Athas, defence correspondent for the Sunday Times. In the ensuing public outcry, demands were made that the government ask for foreign military assistance and put the country on a war footing. Mirroring this opinion, a front-page editorial of the daily The Island said that "If the Jaffna peninsula is to be saved from terrorists, the government must appeal to friendly nations, particularly our neighbours, for immediate military assistance in the form of armaments."

The government obliged on both counts. Appeals for arms were made to countries that have supplied them in the past. Pakistan responded first, air-lifting 10 tonnes of ammunition and shipping in arms including 122 mm muti-barrel rocket launchers. Colombo also acquired arms and Kfir fighter jets from Israel-the latter are a crucial addition to the depleted Lankan air force. Tanks are also being sought from the Czech republic. Such was the urgent need that despite constant media exposes of massive corruption...

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