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Impact of Changing External Conditions on Counterinsurgency: The Sri Lankan Experience

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[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

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After thirty years of protracted war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE, Sri Lanka defeated its long-lasting terrorist insurgency in May 2009. Sri Lankas victory surprised the world. This thesis examines why Sri Lankas counterterrorism strategy succeeded in 2009 when it had previously failed. Discriminatory government policies, the economic liberalization in the 1980s, and external support fueled Tamil insurgency and terrorism on the island. International settings in the 1990s enabled the Tamil diaspora to consolidate support in the Western world, and LTTE evolved as a hybrid terrorist organization. The behavior of the LTTE and its sympathizers overseas explains how the changing external conditions affected insurgency and terrorism in Sri Lanka. Though globalization and the end of the Cold War created new patterns of transnational terrorism, the aftermath of the 911 terrorist attack and the U.S.-led war on terror changed the worlds opinion about terrorism. Therefore, this thesis argues that the change in international opinion on accommodating insurgency and terrorism after December 2001 strengthened the cooperation among countries combatting terrorism and had an impact on counterterrorism in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan victory proved that counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts succeeded after the external conditions changed.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]