Monday, May 20, 2024

Chinese-Mediated Ceasefire: Tensions Stir Among 3BHA Members

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The Three Brotherhood Alliance (3BHA) and the Myanmar military-led State Administration Council (SAC) are set to resume cease-fire negotiations in Kunming, China. Both sides agreed to stop fighting on January 9th of this year and continued with several talks. According to sources, the upcoming conference might be the last talks.

Thus, it is of interest to keep an eye on the outcomes of this meeting and how it is going to impact the 3BHA members – the Arakan Army (AA), the Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

The Kokang group:

The Kokang MNDAA’s endeavor to reclaim its self-administered region, specifically Special Region No. 1, raises questions about the inclusion of newly captured territories from the 1027 Operations. Areas like Kunlong Township, Kyokok Parngsai in Muse Township, Moenge Town in Kutkhai Township, and Hsenwi Township may be of great concern to the SAC and China as these areas are key cross-border trade between Myanmar and China.

The Kokang Special Region No. 1 encompassed only three areas such as Kong Kyan, Lao Khai in Kutkhai Township, and Mong Koe in Muse Township. However, whether the newly captured territories will be incorporated into their administration hinges on several factors.

First, does the SAC, which some consider to be illegitimate, have the authority to determine whether or not to incorporate these regions into Kokang’s jurisdiction? Second, does this adhere to the principles of federal democracy, taking into account the authoritarian rule without the consent of the local populace? Third, will China and the SAC agree to the MNDAA’s authority over key trade routes connecting the two countries? Furthermore, would China suffer a loss of prestige vis-à-vis its foes like the US, India, and Japan if it cedes these areas to the MNDAA?

The TNLA group:

The TNLA’s involvement in the talks seems to be overshadowed by the MNDAA. Thus, this raises doubts about their gains from the negotiations.

Many have observed that the TNLA did not care about the ongoing talks between the SAC and 3BHA. This is because they have their goal which is to establish an independent state. Their aspiration could be seen through the actions they have taken since the 1027 Operations stopped. The TNLA has shifted focus to targeting ethnic armed groups rather than the Myanmar army. They have sought to drive out groups like the MNDAA, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) from areas taken during the 1027 Operations. For example, they tried to seize the controlled areas of the SSPP/SSA such as the Nawng Nguen pier.

The AA group:

The AA group has nothing to do with the talks. This is because their presence in northern Shan State is low. Their engagement in the 1027 Operations primarily serves to safeguard some of their bases in the areas. Thus, this makes them peripheral to the talks. Hence, the meeting primarily concerns the MNDAA.

However, the pivotal issue under discussion revolves around China and the SAC’s tolerance for the 3BHA’s control over the cross-border trade road in Kutkhai Township and the 105-mile trade zone in Muse Township. Thus, how the 3BHA navigates this issue promises to be interesting.

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