Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sri Lanka's victory may offer lessons - Los Angeles Times

The tactics the government used to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels could help other nations grappling with insurgencies.
By Mark Magnier

Reporting from New Delhi -- Sri Lanka's victory this week after a 25-year battle against the Tamil Tiger rebels represents a rare success story for governments fighting insurgencies.

Even as leaders in Colombo, the capital, declared a national holiday and citizens danced in the streets, military planners and analysts around the world began scrutinizing the war for lessons on how to fight Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.

For more than two decades in the conflict in Sri Lanka, neither side was strong enough to overcome the other. That changed three years ago, when the army adopted more mobile tactics, overhauled its intelligence system, promoted young commanders and steadily hemmed in one of the world's most ruthless and innovative rebel movements.

At its peak, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the rebels are formally known, controlled one-third of the country, had their own army, a sizable navy and nascent air force, and served as a role model for insurgencies worldwide with their pioneering use of explosives vests and female suicide bombers. This week, the army displayed in triumph what it said was the portly, bullet-riddled body of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in his signature fatigues.

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