Sri Lanka war set for long haul, analysts warn

April 24, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s hopes of a quick victory over Tamil separatists looked shattered Thursday after Tamil rebels inflicted the heaviest losses on security forces since pulling out of a truce, analysts said. The military leadership began 2007 by withdrawing from the 2002 ceasefire and vowing to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in six months.

But diplomats and analysts underlined that Wednesday’s debacle in the north showed they seriously under-estimated the guerrillas, who have been fighting for a Tamil homeland since 1972.

“What we see is a culture of under-estimating the enemy,” said Iqbal Athas, a leading defence analyst on the island. “History is repeating. The military has not learnt from previous mistakes.”

After driving the LTTE from the east last July after months of fighting, the government boasted it would replicate that success in the north.

Public euphoria at predictions of an imminent military victory boosted army recruitment, but despite unofficial censorship on bad news from the front, force numbers started to dwindle and desertions increased as the bloodshed dragged on.

Just a day before the major battle on the Jaffna peninsula where security sources