Tuesday, August 29, 2006

an operation to retake sampur?

military has reportedly launched an operation to retake sampur (sometimes spelled sampoor). army commander lieutenant general sarath fonseka speaking to associated press reportedly said "the security forces have taken this decision to retake muttur, kaddaiparichchan, sampur and thoppur to safeguard trincomalee naval base and the harbor". other media reports (as alway based mainly on propaganda), indicate the same. however since there is no official notification from military we should be careful. this may only be a preliminary operation to clear and prepare the ground for a future operation to actually capture the sampur area. as always we should wait till a situation stabilizes to know what happened and treat all 'news' (esp. ones with figures) with skepticism.

however a limited operation to take sampur is the logical next step for the military. this carries risks as well as opportunities. as i said before a realistic but morally defensible strategy to defeat ltte (defeat of ltte is a precondition whether we like it or not for real peace) requires that sri lankan government present ltte with a stalemate situation for present without initiating and avoiding as far as possible, a full scale war (a war that ltte planned from last year). it must be made clear to them that they will get nowhere militarily and they will get nowhere through negotiations as well, as long as they will remain what they are now. on the long term such a strategy will make ltte progressively weaker till either gosl is able to defeat it militarily or it changes of it own accord to an unarmed democratic political party. militarily that comes down to a sort of a fabian strategy.

that means we should not engage in large scale offensive military operations that may end in effective defeat, as operation 'jayasikurui' in the late 90's ended up being, which may make ltte and others believe it is going somewhere militarily. however that does not mean we should not undertake small limited operations "to ensure that the terrorists end up in a similar or worse off position to the one they started off prior to the violence" if "it tries to increase its power" by violence.

question is whether an operation to retake sampur will fall into that category. imo it does. area and troops involved will certainly be comparatively small. nor will there be any higher risk of this developing into a larger operation as the terrorists in sampur are more or less isolated militarily speaking. pussies may try to open a completely separate front somewhere else on the north. but tigers already launched two operations to capture jaffna during last month (both failed miserably) and another such operation is likely anyway, with or without a sampur operation. an operation to take sampur will be limited in nature.

why recapture sampur?
as long as ltte remains in sampur, trinco and navy's operations from there will be under threat. though as i have said before what happened during ltte's attempt to take muttur and during last few weeks (when navy and trinco were subjected to artillery attacks) makes it clear that they are unable to prevent navy from operating out of trinco ( and thus supply jaffna). they came close to that only when they tried a mass sea tiger suicide attack on a troop ferry. even that did not succeed. unless they can successfully carry out several such suicide attacks or perhaps capture muttur and other strategic positions around the bay, navy will be able to carry on with its work. so it is not so much the actual hindrance as much as potential threat and general insecurity that will be eliminated if military is able to retake sampur.

getting rid of tigers in sampur will also make the area south of the bay secure, ensuring the resettlement of internally displaced people of muttur and adjacent areas. all those ngos and others 'humanitarins' who have taken it upon themselves to speak on behalf of idps should keep that in mind before criticizing an operation to retake sampur, unless they want the displaced to stay in their temporary camps forever. i know such permanent displacement is highly beneficial to some who work in ngos who provide 'help' to the idps with aid supplied by governments and others, but let us hope most of them see beyond that.

then there is the fact that under cfa sampur does not fall under ltte control. one can argue that military is merely holding ltte to account for a long neglected breach of ceasefire since sri lanka monitoring mission has patently failed to make ltte comply with cfa in regard to this breach as it had failed with all the other breaches.

main risk is of course failure. let us hope military is fairly sure of its ability to dislodge the tigers from sampur. if military and its planners are not sure such operations should not be undertaken imo. even if they are successful this may take weeks if not months to complete, given that tigers are well entrenched. in fact the so called operation may look more like a siege than anything else. military and politicians must not raise false expectations. they must make it clear that this will take time. in fact that may also be why they have not said anything much about this so far.

another risk is the bad publicity generated by so called collateral damage. though it is impossible to believe after all that has happened, that there are any civilians in the tiger controlled areas in sampur, unless they are forcibly kept there to be used as human shields. government should make this point repeatedly and point out that it is allowing civilians to leave the area. and ngos and the 'humanitarians' (if they dare to go out of colombo) must try their best to evacuate those still in those areas and condemn ltte for any attempt to prevent that. it is not enough to protest after some civilians die.

in the end it is the civilians( not just in sampur, but in muttur, trinco, and jaffna ) who will gain most from a tiger less sampur so let's hope the operation to retake sampur ( if there is one now or in the future ) is a success.

welcome! especially all those who have started visiting this blog from u.s and canada after my recent posts on terrorist arrests there.
thanks for all the comments and the emails. still busy with work (was in trinco last sunday believe it or not), so sorry about not replying to comments and emails, and for not visiting other blogs. will soon (as in a day or two) do all that.


Komisiripala said...


Sittingnut, you do have your sources...

Heartily agree with the proposed military strategy and the need to filter out the propaganda.

an interesting point an associate made regarding the recent arrests and all might have some input here... LTTE was busted trying to procure arms - albeit high-end hardware like the SA-18 'holy grail' (i think thats the nickname used). but also AK-47's. you'd think the most well funded terror organization in the world won't have a problem procuring that so it might be hinting at a desperation on their part far as the need for weapons go.

they must be running low on ammo and rations for their troops - unless some ngo is supplying them or they have hijacked some supplies. But it still cannot last.

If its going to be a siege, it needs to be a siege - not a political/pr fiasco.

The Art of War states:

"When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, the men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength, and if the campaign is protracted, there sources of the state will not be equal to the strain. Never forget: When your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted, and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue."

Pray that it is a short and effective siege.

Keshi said...

One thing: Just ban LTTE all over the world.


Chaar~Max said...

The main reason is that the LTTE has built concrete bunkers and launch artillery attacks from there. They can reach the Trinco Harbour, which is deadly, and must be dismantled. At any cost!

Morquendi said...

Well the Army won't be able to retake Sampur because they're too busy in Colombo planning the abduction and murder of more journalists :)

Komisiripala said...


How is it that you manage to come to amazing conclusions with very little information? I think you should seriously consider a bid to join George W. Bush's foreign policy committee. If someone gets abducted in the North you blame everybody. Someone is abducted in Colombo you blame military. Country situ gets worse, you blame GOSL. Is there anything productive that you can say with regard to the current situation(s) instead of passing blame all the time?

Shit happens -thats life. Its how you deal with it and address it that matters more than who did what so we are where we are. You can bitch and moan for a hundred years and it won't make a stick of difference but stand up and say something productive or do something that actually makes a difference - that just might give some meaning to your existence. Dumbass.

Dil said...

Sitting Nut, please turn on your speakers and click on this link:


Keep up the good work!

Keshi said...

busy-bod hows u? :)


sittingnut said...

hello people
sorry i am still busy. but will be back soon . thanks for the comments, will reply individually soon.

ashanthi said...

oh please - don't individually give everyone a reply - it's so blog-passe machan.

Now I take it that you are hanging out there with the army somewhere - I really hope you are safe?

Lion5Den said...

So far so good with the operation to retake Sampoor. We must press home the advantage now - not just militarily, but to cut off tiger terrorist funding and support around the world. This must be the politician's focus - Gen Sarath Fonseka is doing a stellar job on the military front!