Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Operation 1027’s Ethnic Dilemma: Challenges to Unity in Shan State Offensive

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Although the Three Brotherhood Alliance’s offensive in northern Shan State against the military junta is considered effective, it lacks ethnic cohesion to get rid of the Myanmar military junta’s influence completely.

The offensive labeled “Operation 1027”, which has continued for almost a month, involves three primary ethnic armed groups: the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Arakan Army (AA).

However, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the leader of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultation Committee (FPNCC) which the Three Brotherhood Alliance is a member, maintains a “non-alignment policy.” They aren’t actively involved on either side but state their willingness to take action if their airspace and territory are infringed.

Other powerful ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that are part of the FPNCC such as the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) have expressed that they were not informed about Operation 1027. This implies the fragmentation among the EAOs in Shan State.

In addition, conflicts continue to erupt between the FPNCC members SSPP and TNLA over territory, indicating a lack of unity among ethnic armed groups in Shan State. Despite negotiations at the UWSA headquarters, recent orders from the TNLA to withdraw the SSPP troops from specific areas demonstrate ongoing discord.

Fighting also broke out between the SSPP/SSA and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA). At the same time, they avoided involvement in Operation 1027 and failed to respond to violence in Shan-populated areas that resulted in civilian fatalities and displacement.

Despite the absence of certain ethnic groups from Operation 1027, the KIA has seized opportunities to expand its influence by capturing military junta posts near the China border in northern Shan State. The KIA’s actions are distinct from Operation 1027. Their attacks against the military junta are mainly to expand their control. According to the report, the KIA has expanded its reach in Mongmit Township of northern Shan State and some areas in Kachin State.

This situation underscores the difficulties in creating unity among ethnic armed groups in Shan State and in Myanmar as a whole, making cooperation against the junta doomed. The consequence is an enduring cycle of conflict and violence, with civilians bearing the brunt of the unending war.

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