The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), locally known as Kokang Army, announced on October 27, 2023, that they were able to control highways from Lashio to Chin Shwe Haw and Lashio to Muse. It is said that the operation was taken to crack down on online gambling companies operating in Laukkai Township, military-backed militia groups linked to online scams, and to eradicate the oppressive military dictatorship in their self-administered zone (SAZ).
This announcement coincided with the statement from the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which includes the MNDAA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Arakan Army (AA), which launched “Operation 1027” to counter the military’s artillery attacks and airstrikes in their controlled areas and target allied militias involved in online scams along the China-Myanmar border in northern Shan State.
However, the attacks extended beyond their territories into several townships in northern Shan State, including Kokang, Mongkoe, Lashio, Hsenwi, Kunlong, Hopang, Muse, and Namkham Township. They have now controlled much of the roads connecting with the Kokang region and claimed that they have seized several important strategic positions in the Kokang region.
Thus, their goal is quite clear. The primary objective of this operation is not to combat online scams, however, because of China’s discontent with the prevalence of illegal activities, particularly the presence of online scammers and fraudsters along its borders, and because they do not want to dissatisfied China, they have to adopt the method and follow China’s orders.
However, what is happening is clear that they have their goal to seize control of the entire Kokang region. The troops that are taking part in this “Operation 1027” include not only the Three Brotherhood Alliance but other armed groups, including battalions led by the Bamar People’s Liberation Army (BPLA) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Thus, it is estimated that around 30,000 troops are involved in this operation.
The MNDAA and the government maintained a ceasefire from 1989 until 2009. The truce was broken after the MNDAA turned down the Myanmar government’s offer to take on the role of border guard forces under Myanmar army command. Following that, the military captured and occupied Kokang with the help of Kokang army commanders, notably Deputy Chairman Bai Suoqian, who demonstrated devotion to the military regime. This incident resulted in Peng Jiasheng’s ouster, forcing him and his allies to flee to the isolated and forested highlands of Yunnan.
In 2015, under the leadership of Peng Daxun, a son of Peng Jiasheng, the MNDAA launched an attack and regained control of its territory, which included Kokang and other areas in Muse, Kukhai, Kunlong, Hsenwi, and Lashio. They also were able to establish control in certain areas on the Chinese side including Battalion 611 where they trained the BPLA soldiers and other People Defense Forces.
The MNDAA has become one of the most powerful Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) within 7-8 years and has been consistently involved in hostilities against the Myanmar military before and after the coup of 2021. The current conflict serves as a testament to the group’s potency as an armed entity with the capacity to accomplish its objectives.