Thursday, July 25, 2024

FPNCC: Best Friends, Worst Enemies

Must read

The Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) is an alliance of seven ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to engage in negotiations with Myanmar’s central government. The United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Arakan Army (AA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) comprise the coalition. The FPNCC, the largest negotiating body of EAOs in Myanmar, is currently experiencing internal strife that poses a threat to its effectiveness and cohesion.

Structure and Historical Context:

The FPNCC was established in response to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), an agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the EAOs, that was signed in 2015, which these members declined to ratify. The alliance was established to form a unified front in negotiations with the government. The UWSA served as the Chair, while the KIA served as the Vice-chair. Within the FPNCC, further alliances exist: the AA, MNDAA, and TNLA form the Three Brotherhood Alliance (3BHA), while these three along with the KIA constitute the Northern Alliance.

In their effort to overthrow the Myanmar military dictatorship, the KIA formed alliances with the AA, the TNLA, and the MNDAA by offering supplies support, and training. They have fought as allies in several battles, sometimes under the banner of the Northern Alliance and sometimes without it.

The Northern Alliance, the UWSA, the NDAA, and the SSPP/SSA declared the establishment of the FPNCC in April 2017. The Northern Alliance shifted from a military alliance to a political alliance by allying with the UWSA, the largest EAO in Myanmar with approximately 30,000 personnel and armaments supplied by China. Thus, it makes FPNCC the strongest alliance with more than 80 percent of the ethnic armies.

As a member of the FPNCC, each of the members gets support from the alliance, particularly the MNDAA and TNLA, which helped them to gradually expand their territory and weaponry. In addition, with the help of its members such as the SSPP/SSA, the TNLA was able to successfully achieve victories against the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) troops in the northern Shan State. Therefore, the MNDAA and the TNLA garnered widespread support among their ethnic communities by advocating for a stringent anti-drug policy and ethnic identity.

Territory Disputes and Internal Conflicts:

The MNDAA and the TNLA’s positions have been further bolstered by the 2021 coup, particularly in the aftermath of the 1027 operation. The Three Brotherhood Alliance initiated this operation, which led to an increase in territorial disputes. The FPNCC members experienced an increase in friction in the aftermath, despite a ceasefire that was mediated by China. For example, the TNLA and the MNDAA attempted to establish power in the areas they recently captured in an effort to support their objective of establishing a robust and autonomous state.

Thus, internal conflicts emerge, particularly in the northern region of Shan State. In spite of the FPNCC’s initial goal of promoting unity against the central government, territorial disputes, and inter-ethnic conflicts seem to be intensifying.

Conflict between SSPP and TNLA: The SSPP and TNLA are at odds regarding the administration of the Namkham area after its 1027 Operations victory. The territorial dispute between the TNLA and SSPP has resulted in a rise in military tension. The SSPP regarded the TNLA’s forceful eviction of the SSPP soldiers from Namkham Township as an inhumane act that resulted in a loss of reputation and dignity among the Shan population. The TNLA believed that it had the right to govern the Shan-majority cities, such as Namkham and Namtu after it expelled the military junta forces. What’s more, the TNLA forces erased Shan language signposts in many places and replaced them with Ta’ang language, much to the dismay of the majority of Shan people. However, the SSPP insisted that these are its founding grounds and the locations in which it has consistently operated. The SSPP has issued statements rejecting TNLA’s actions, which it views as a challenge to its legitimacy and territorial claims, in response to its feelings of humiliation and displacement.

TNLA and KIA Tensions: The TNLA and KIA have enjoyed a long-standing relationship since 1976, during which the KIA has provided technical and financial support to the TNLA. However, their relationship was disrupted following the TNLA’s triumph in the 1027 operation. According to the TNLA, towns such as Mantong, Namtu, Namkham, and Kutkai must be under their control, as they have fought to acquire these territories. And that the KIA should not conduct their administration in these regions. The TNLA has alleged that the KIA has been interfering with TNLA-run administrative, healthcare, and educational activities in the TNLA-controlled areas of Mantong, Namtu, and Kutkai. Consequently, it has ordered the KIA to cease the operation of its liaison office in Kutkai and refrain from raising its flag. Furthermore, the TNLA seized the institutions operated by the Kachin community and restricted their operation. This results in intensifying conflict between them and will only worsen.

MNDAA and KIA Dispute: The military tensions between these factions have been further exacerbated by incidents such as the MNDAA’s removal of the KIA flag in Mong Koe, Muse Township. In the same vein, the MNDAA captured and occupied the educational buildings that are operated by the Kachin community. Despite the local community’s objections to the MNDAA’s use of school buildings as military bases, the group declined to permit the schools to reopen.

MNDAA and TNLA Tension: Although they have successfully captured and controlled numerous municipalities in northern Shan State through their renowned joint operation, the 1027 Operation, they are currently engaged in a conflict with one another. In April, the TNLA forced the removal of an MNDAA flag from the Department of Construction and ordered the MNDAA to leave Kutkai Township. In addition, they engaged in numerous conflicts in other regions, including Maw Han Village, which is located between Kutkai and Tamoenye townships. These conflicts resulted in significant casualties.

Contradictory Ideological Stance: The UWSA opted to maintain a neutral stance in the revolutionary conflict against the Myanmar military junta, while the KIA continues to collaborate with the National Union Government and People Defense Forces in their efforts to combat the junta. Their extremely contradictory stance led to ideological divisions, which is in stark contrast to their original objectives of dismantling the military dictatorship and establishing a federal democratic union.

Prospects for the Future:

The FPNCC’s internal conflict is indicative of more general concerns regarding territorial ambition and ethno-nationalism. The likelihood of further fragmentation within the FPNCC increases as territorial disputes continue. The coalition’s credibility and efficacy are compromised by its inability to mediate and resolve these disputes. The FPNCC may disintegrate if the internal conflicts persist, which could potentially result in increased violence and instability in northern Shan State and undermine the collective bargaining power of these EAOs.

Consequently, the circumstances in this region serve as a prime example of the intricacies and obstacles associated with the preservation of a coalition of diverse and frequently antagonistic groups. Without effective mediation and a renewed focus on common goals, the FPNCC risks becoming a coalition of best friends turned worst enemies, with dire consequences for the region’s stability and the broader struggle for ethnic rights and autonomy in Myanmar.

Note* The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Leave a Comments

- Advertisement -SHAN's App

Latest article