Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tamil Tigers probably defeated

One of the longest-running guerrilla insurgencies appears to be coming to an end with the announcement that the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka say they are putting down their weapons. Supposedly only a handful of Tigers are left after a fierce government offensive that has pushed them to the edge of extinction after a 25-year civil war. At one point the Tigers controlled about a quarter of the island and had all the trappings of government, with taxes, a police force, etc. The Tigers have also been skillful, even pioneers in guerilla/terrorist activity, being the first to use suicide vests and other tactics that are all too familiar now.

The Tigers may be done -- though I wouldn't be surprised if they or a successor organization rose again. Many of the Tamil grievances are founded in the fact that the Sinhalese majority on Sri Lanka has practiced a system of preferences in government jobs, contracts, and to some extent granting of civil rights, freezing out the minority Tamils. If the government doesn't end such practices grievances will accumulate again. It might not be easy considering the misery the Tigers have caused for 25 years. I'm not justifying the Tigers, who have been notably brutal and toward the end hurt more Tamils than Sinhalese. But racial preferences are inherently divisive and create legitimate grievances.

No comments: