TODAY -

New Political Template: Is Myanmar on the brink of 'breaking apart' ?
'New Delhi favours resolution via constructive dialogue'

Nirendra Dev *



"If the government (in military junta in Myanmar) does not effectively manage the incidents happening in the border region, the country will be split into various parts," said Myint Swe, who leads the Myanmar military's State as the president.

The statement has a regional and strategic significance of its own as analysts suggest that the 'Operation 1027' launched against the junta has already created a new political template for Myanmar’s future. The People’s Defense Forces (PDF) has also captured Khampat from the junta as part of 'Operation 1027'.

There is already an immense intra-Myanmar and intra-regional 'unrest' as different ethnic groups of well-armed rebels have joined forces for the first time and are gaining ground against the army. Will these lead to restoration of democratic rule?

"The battle for Kunlong showed that the alliance was more ambitious than presumed otherwise. The rebels have seized junta positions to the east of the Salween River and Kunlong Town between by the first week of November," says a source.

The ethnic alliance took control of Hseni and Namkham towns and seized strategic junta hill-top outposts in Muse. They reportedly attacked Phaungsai, Monesi, Nanzhuan to the west of the Salween River and also seized Pansai, Monekoe, Nanzhuan, Kunlong and Phaungsai towns in 10-12 days. The alliance has also threatened to take 'control' of Laukkai Town, the capital of Kokang Zone.

Of course there is an Indian angle and concerns have been raised about the impact in Mizoram.

A large number of Myanmar nationals have crossed over into India to escape the intense fighting between the rebels and Myanmar military. This included at least "47 Myanmar army officials" who also crossed the international border and surrendered before the state police in Mizoram, which shares a 510-km-long border with Myanmar’s Chin state.

The army coup was staged in February 2021 when the world was still concerned about Covid19. But there was also a determined struggle by ethnic groups to topple an immensely unpopular military regime. The rebellion continued without anyone seeming to win the war. But that set the tone for emerging challenges for the military junta.

Two years down the line around 8,000 square kilometers have been seized. These advances were made over a set of four-five offensives. The first one was on October 27 during 'Operation 1027' undertaken by the Three Brotherhood Alliance comprising three ethnic groups — Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Arakan Army (AA) in northern Shan State and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

In other words, Myanmar's generals are facing their biggest test since they seized power in a 2021 coup.

"There has been movement of Myanmar nationals to the Indian side. We are deeply concerned with such incidents close to our border," MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. "We want cessation of the violence and resolution of the situation through constructive dialogue".

But there is more to it from a strategic point of view.

It was believed largely that China has been backing the military Junta, but there have been reports now that the current ethnic offensives were not feasible without support from Beijing. China has strategic interests and also a railway line project through Mandalay and pipelines going to the Bay of Bengal.

India has categorically reiterated the call for "return of peace, stability, and democracy" in Myanmar.

"... Local authorities in the concerned neighboring states have been handling the situation appropriately on humanitarian grounds....As a result of the fighting at Rihkhawdar area in Chin State, opposite Zokhawthar in Mizoram on the India-Myanmar border, there has been movement of Myanmar nationals to the Indian side. We are deeply concerned with such incidents close to our border,” MEA spokesman Mr Bagchi has said.

Within India, the state of Manipur has already faced violence and ethnic conflicts on a large scale in 2023.

The democratic forces of ethnic groups including Zos, Chin and possibly also Nagas have overran many army battalion headquarters. The stakes are high as the sentiment of the Myanmar people is against the junta and with the NUG.

In July this year a few suspected people from Myanmar were arrested in border areas in Mizoram for allegedly trying to smuggle weapons. Mizoram otherwise falls under 'peace zone' in the northeast in military parlance along with Meghalaya and Tripura.

But the fact of the matter is there are only three battalions of Assam Rifles in Mizoram including one at capital Aizawl and as this makes only around 2000 men and officers. Compared to Mizoram, Nagaland has 14-15 battalions. The apprehension has been in certain quarters that Mizoram could require additional forces, a source told 'Nagaland Page'.

Meanwhile, a crucial round of parleys took place between NSCN-IM leaders and peace emissary A K Mishra in Delhi this month. Analysts suggest that the solution of the Naga problem could be crucial at this juncture for New Delhi to play an effective role in minimizing "influence" of some inimical forces.

According to the militant group, there were 'enough rooms' to appreciate each other’s difficulties and work together vis-a-vis Article 371(A) taking it as a "stepping stone". This too is a good realisation, analysts say.


* Nirendra Dev wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist
and can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 24 2023.



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