from Asia Unbound

Burma Back to War?

April 22, 2011

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A soldier holds a gun during an opening ceremony of the Safari garden in the new capital Naypyitaw on February 12, 2011.
A soldier holds a gun during an opening ceremony of the Safari garden in the new capital Naypyitaw on February 12, 2011. (Soe Zeya/Courtesy Reuters)

The Irrawaddy has an inside report from the headquarters of one of the main ethnic militias in Burma, the Kachin Independence Organization. The group is preparing for renewed battle with the Burmese military, which has pushed for the militias to join a border guard force, which would essentially mean disarmament. The KIO increasingly has resisted, and another report, from the Kachins’ own news agency suggests that the central government now plans to go to war with the KIO, which supposedly has been labeled the top domestic enemy of the regime.

Whether that is true is hard to tell – the Kachin News Agency obviously is not exactly unbiased. But it is clear that the central government, in the wake of last fall’s elections, feels it has gained the stability and legitimacy to move against the ethnic militias. This could be only the first of several attempts to intimidate the militias, but it’s unlikely to work – the militia groups have little to gain from joining a border guard force, so the regime probably would have to make them submit. And that could be bloody.

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