In this file photo, soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army patrol outside Laiza, Myanmar, on April 2, 2012.
Credit: Sebastian Strangio
Min Ko Naing, a veteran political activist and leading figure behind Myanmar’s Representative Committee Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the provisional government that is legally opposed to the government, made it clear: activities against the government should go to territories held by allied races. armed organizations in the Southeast. “These territories will become ‘free zones’ where they can continue their war against the army along with the ethnic minorities. Those who have stayed in the cities will continue their war with guerrilla demonstrations, ” he told Radio Free Asia.
Myanmar is considering a civil war – or, indeed, a massive escalation of the civil wars the country has experienced since its independence – between the military in power in the February 1 coup and the broad sponsorship of CRPH and ethnic minority organizations just established a national unification government (NUG). Very few people now believe in a negotiated deal. The reason is simple: neither of them have an incentive to compromise.
The government, which killed more than 700 protesters and civilians, knew there was no way out of this coup. For now, the coup leaders remain in control of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, as long as they do not compromise. Once they start to lose, there is little to stop the second group of champions from getting rid of them and looking for a better solution for themselves.
The same CRPH is locked in a confrontational state. Their new ethnic allies are questioning that the National League for Democracy, the ruling party toppled on February 1, will sell them off if there is a chance to compromise, so the CRPH needs to show off. consitence. Its political base is mobilized and strengthened and does not seek to return to the status quo. “The Burmese people won’t accept [a negotiated settlement]”NLD executive committee member Phyo Zeya Thaw told me in February.
What are the prospects for the coming civil war?
The main factors are: first, the strength and breadth of the coalition supporting NUG through the National Unified Consultative Council (NUCC), which is comprised of the national armies and national political organizations that support NUG. households, but constituencies are not yet finalized. ; and second, relative international support from the CRPH relative to the government. The coalition of national armed organizations operating through the NUCC will not defeat the Tatmadaw militarily. Instead, the government will be canceled by a total failure to run the country and provide services to the people, which the government is being denied for continued civil disobedience. The key to winning for NUG will be to keep civil disobedience facing persecution and the economic collapse has already begun.
And this is where the international community comes in. Foreign governments need to recognize NUG and free it up funds that are frozen in bank accounts in the US, Singapore and elsewhere. They also need to ensure NUG has satellite-based telecommunications available to direct civil disobedience in central Myanmar from their base on the border with Thailand. Most importantly, the international community needs to help NUG use its funds. This requires access to the commodity markets and financial systems of their neighbors and open borders, especially Thailand and India. Establishing these channels is critical to NUG’s survival and for large-scale humanitarian activities will soon become essential. The ASEAN Initiative provides humanitarian aid are welcome. Any humanitarian assistance provided by the military will be denied by the civil disobedience movement. On the other hand, aid provided through Thailand could be made available to both refugees within the NUG territory and the central region and thus to be more politically acceptable. These missions are where international diplomatic energy is best concentrated right now.
Depending on the above, there are two possible outcomes. A quick military victory for the military, if Thailand and India refuse to support NUG, or if the coalition that supports NUG is too weak to counter the onslaught the Tatmadaw will launch. Reluctantly, therefore, China will throw its weight behind the regime, prompting India and Japan to race to normalize relations. The Western powers will continue with sanctions, shutting down governments from a dollarized economy and making them much poorer than they used to be.
As a result, there will be no going back to the 1990s, where Myanmar, comfortable with the powers involved in the region, vanished gradually in an oppressive, stable, and profoundly poverty. Instead, a military victory would inflict lasting destabilization on Myanmar as conflict continued to simmer, destabilizing a partially isolated country until, finally, after many years, the government was pulled down. by its own mismanagement of the country.
The alternative is also not a smooth ride: a long and arduous struggle will see NUG succeed as Tatmadaw slowly disintegrates in the face of its fierce contradictions – a the fighting force identifies itself as defender of Myanmar, kills resilient protesters in the heart of Myanmar’s Bamar ethnic group and has determined to fight stubborn guerrilla armies on various fronts in the region. border of Myanmar.
Once the Tatmadaw starts to wobble, the soldiers will either defect or defect continuously, and the army will lose quickly and decisively. Myanmar does not have Syria; the government has no safe political or territorial basis to rely on. After that, the Tatmadaw rulers would sacrifice their military leadership to cut off a deal and secure its influence in a new federal Myanmar. A tense transition – a constitutional parliament and new elections – will entail tough questions about Myanmar’s future that must be answered: What is the Tatmadaw’s role in a new Myanmar? Will the army be integrated with the victorious national armies? What exactly does autonomy mean for the national nations of Myanmar? What will happen to state autonomous regions, like the mighty Bang Wa?
The unification of the disparity winning alliances will quickly falter, violence could erupt and it will require intense efforts from the regional powers to keep the federal transition. together. At this point, regional powers including the United States, Japan, India, Thailand and China, will be on the same side, encouraging their respective clients to give reasons to seek out. a compromise. It will be messy, but it’s still a golden opportunity: finally a peaceful Myanmar, 75 years after independence.