Published : May 22, 2009 00:00 IST

Prabhakaran signs an agreement to join the Norwegian-brokered peace talks with the Sri Lankan government in Kilinochchi on February 20, 2002.-AFP

Prabhakaran signs an agreement to join the Norwegian-brokered peace talks with the Sri Lankan government in Kilinochchi on February 20, 2002.-AFP

A. 1989-90: Peace talks.

B. June 1990: Eelam War II begins after LTTE launches a surprise move against police stations in the north and the east.

C. Late 1994: Presidential election Chandrika Kumaratunga elected on a peace platform.

D. January-April 1995: Peace talks.

E. Mid-April 1995: Mini-Pearl Harbour sees two gunboats sunk in Trincomalee by LTTE frogmen.

F. April 1995 - late 2000: Eelam War III.

G. Early 2001: New UNP government of Ranil Wickremesinghe signs Cease Fire Agreement with the LTTE.

H. April 10, 2002: Prabakaran and Balasingham hold grand media event for world press at Kilinochchi.

I. December 2001 to 2004: Peace talks at different venues with key points being (a) Sattahip, Thailand, September 16-18, 2002; (b) Oslo, November 2002; followed by the Oslo Declaration of December 5, 2002 all confirming the LTTEs de facto demi-nation status.

J. 2001-04: Wickremesinghes policy of consumer materialism begins to penetrate the fund-starved terrain of Tigerland and some Tiger cadres display a fondness for the good life a process that frightens Prabakaran no end.

K. December 5, 2002: When Balasingham, S.P. Thamilselvan and Karuna return with the Oslo principles for a political settlement that secures what can be called pragmatic Eelam, namely, autonomy for the north and the east within the Sri Lankan state (Roberts 2002 a, b, c); Prabakaran tears up the document. Thus, against the sentiments of his advisers Prabakaran directs the LTTE to prepare for war a course I can confirm from my findings in the course of a visit to Jaffna and Kilinochchi in late November 2004 .

L. April 2004 et seq.: Karuna defects and the Eastern Province is swept by faction firefights. The LTTE emerges as winner, but is clearly weakened as a result.

M. December 26, 2004: Tsunami decimates Sea Tigers and delays LTTE plans.

N. August 12, 2005: Kadirgamar is assassinated as the preliminary step in the LTTE policy of assisting Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UPFA to win the presidential election thereby removing a potential Prime Minister and a dangerous Tamil foe.

O. December 2005: Mahinda Rajapaksa scrapes in as President with the abstentions of Tamil voters serving as one factor influencing his victory and the support of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and Jathika Hela Urumaya as another factor. Thus, by early 2006 one has two sets of hawks facing each other, the ultra-nationalist Tamil Tigers and the chauvinist UPFA regime, the one totalitarian and the other restrained by electoral demands, but leaning towards extra-parliamentary methods.

P. Late 2005: Intifada tactics by the LTTE in Jaffna peninsula west where the government of Sri Lanka is seen as an occupying army.

Q. August 6, 2006: Mavil Aru intervention by LTTE sees undeclared war breaking out in Trincomalee district. This moment eventually escalates into a full-scale war on all fronts although the major focus is the Eastern province. So we have Eelam War IV.

R. 2007: The Sri Lankan forces gradually prevail in the East: with (a) the capture of Vakarai on January 19, 2007, and (b) the final ascendancy at the Toppigala redoubt on July 11, 2007, marking two central victories. After Toppigala, Tiger power in the east is confined to isolated units in the deep jungle.

S. 2007: Over the course of the year the Navy intercepts and destroys 10 LTTE supply ships in international waters (with the aid of Indian intelligence networks).

T. Early 2008: the Army begins to chip away at the LTTE frontline defences in Mannar district while threatening them on all other fronts as well.

U. May-November 2008: Army breakthroughs see the LTTE lose control of the north-western coast, severely weakening its supply lines from India.

V. Late 2008: The LTTE is squeezed in by a three-pronged pincer from south, west and northern edge above Elephant Pass.

W. January 1-2, 2009: The strategic Paranthan junction town falls to the Army and the LTTE abandons its capital Kilinochchi.

X. January 25, 2009: The military headquarters of the LTTE at Mullaithivu is captured.

Y. 2008/09: As the LTTE withdraws in orderly fashion at different stages during the moments U to X in the timeline box, it persuades and/or forces the Tamil people to move with the LTTE into the remaining Tiger territories.

Michael Roberts


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