Myanmar’s Ongoing Conflict: A Detailed Examination of Recent Clashes
Resistance Intensifies Amid Military Rule
The past four days have witnessed a surge in conflict across Myanmar. Reports indicate that around 40 members of the ruling military junta and one resistance fighter have lost their lives in various incidents. The People’s Defense Force (PDF) and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) have continued their onslaught against regime targets. The incidents occurred across different regions, including Mandalay, Magwe, Sagaing, and Bago, in addition to Mon and Shan states.
The attacks perpetrated by the PDF and EAOs have been extensive and varied. They have taken on military banks, launched surprise assaults on sentries and convoys, bombed military units and camps, and even attempted to seize police outposts. While some military casualties could not be independently verified, the resistance groups have claimed multiple junta fatalities and injuries. The junta’s response has been equally violent, with the use of heavy weaponry, airstrikes, and punitive measures such as burning down civilian houses.
Conflict Across Regions
In Mon State, the Ye Belu resistance group conducted an unexpected attack on the forces guarding a branch of the regime-owned Myawaddy Bank, resulting in the death of five junta forces. In Bago Region, resistance groups launched a raid on regime forces on a ferry, resulting in the death of one junta soldier and injuries to two pro-junta militia members. The Thayawady PDF Battalion 3802 in Bago Region claimed to have killed 16 regime forces during an ambush on a military unit composed of 100 troops. In response, the regime forces burned down three farm huts belonging to local residents.
Interestingly, the resistance has also been using modern technology in their fight against the junta. Drones have been used to drop bombs on a military unit raiding a village in Magwe Region, killing two regime forces. Following the strikes, the junta forces burned down eight civilian houses and retreated to their base.
Rising Tensions and International Response
The escalation of the conflict in Myanmar has been met with international concern but limited action. Since the military seized power in a coup in 2021, it has terrorized the country, killed, tortured, and imprisoned thousands of citizens, and made a mockery of the United Nations. Despite the occasional international headlines, the carnage persists. An estimated 1.38 million people have been displaced, in addition to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, victims of what investigators describe as potential genocide.
The destruction of Myanmar’s democracy has led to growing guerrilla-style popular resistance under the banner of the People’s Defense Forces, backed by ethnic militias. About 13,000 regime soldiers and police have defected, resulting in a de facto civil war. The military has lost control of large areas, and a government in exile, the National Unity Government, is attempting to rally international support.
International Politics and the Conflict
While the US, the UK, and the EU have imposed several rounds of sanctions on the regime, including an arms embargo, their efforts are undermined by China, Russia, India, and others. While condemning the junta, the Asean regional grouping is split and has proved ineffectual. China, which has reportedly supplied the junta with $254m in arms since the coup, could probably stop the killing if it desired. However, it values Myanmar’s natural resources and ports above human rights and democracy. Russia, whose $400m in weapons sales include the helicopter gunships used to attack villagers, joins China at the UN to protect the junta from tougher international action.
The conflict in Myanmar continues unabated, with a rising death toll and escalating violence. The resistance movements, both traditional and ethnic, continue to fight back against the regime, despite the heavy-handed response from the junta. As the conflict continues, the international community’s role and response remain crucial in determining the future of this Southeast Asian nation.
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