Causes for the Failure of the LTTE Insurgency: A Capsule Statement

Peter S. Roberts: Abstract of Dissertation “The Sri Lankan Insurgency: A Rebalancing of the Orthodox Position” … being a D. Phil Thesis Brunel University April 2016 ….

The insurgency in Sri Lanka between the early 1980s and 2009 is the topic of this study, one that is of great interest to scholars studying war in the modern era. It is an example of a revolutionary war in which the total defeat of the insurgents was a decisive conclusion, achieved without allowing them any form of political access to governance over the disputed territory after the conflict. Current literature on the conflict examines it from a single (government) viewpoint – deriving false conclusions as a result. This research integrates exciting new evidence from the Tamil (insurgent) side and as such is the first balanced, comprehensive account of the conflict. The resultant history allows readers to reframe the key variables that determined the outcome, concluding that the leadership and decision-making dynamic within the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had far greater impact than has previously been allowed for. The new evidence takes the form of interviews with participants from both sides of the conflict, Sri Lankan military documentation, foreign intelligence assessments and diplomatic communiqués between governments, referencing these against the current literature on counter-insurgency, notably the social-institutional study of insurgencies by Paul Staniland. It concludes that orthodox views of the conflict need to be reshaped into a new methodology that focuses on leadership performance and away from a timeline based on periods of major combat.


Ask these questions: have Peter Roberts, Stephen Battle and Daniel Alphonsus  taken in most of these studies? Allowing for the difficulty of covering every essay, what are the implications arising from the lot missed?

IDAG [i.e. Citizen Silva] 2013 “The Numbers Game: Politics of Retributive Justice,” OR

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2009b “The Battle for the Vanni Pocket,” Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, March 2009, Vol. 35/2, pp. 17-19. 2009157395/156554.html

De Silva-Ranasinghe, Sergei 2010b “Downfall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” South Asia Defence and Strategic Review, May-June 2010, pp. 10-15.

Roberts, Michael 2013 “BBC-Blind: Misreading the Tamil Tiger Strategy of International Blackmail, 2008-13,” 8 December 2013,

Jeyaraj, DBS 2011 “KP” speaks out. An Interview with Former Tiger Chief, Vavuniya: NERDO.

Roberts, Michael 2013 “Introducing “Numbers Game” – A Detailed Study of the Last Stages of Eelam War IV,” 30 April 2013,

Roberts, Michael 2013 “Towards Citizenship in Thamiilam: The Tamil People of the North, 1983-2010,” South Asia Research vol. 33: 57-75.

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Essays, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014,

Roberts, Michael 2010d “Self-Annihilation for Political Cause: Cultural Premises in Tamil Tiger Selflessness,” in Roberts, Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 161-201.

Roberts, Michael 2012a “Inspirations: Hero Figures and Hitler in Young Pirapāharan’s Thinking,” Colombo Telegraph, 12 February 2012, http://thuppahi.… rep. in TPS: Essays, 2014: 69-89.


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Filed under centre-periphery relations, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, war reportage, world events & processes

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