Over the past month, Myanmar’s multiple domestic crises have spilled over into the region, highlighting setbacks in the country’s reform process just before highly anticipated national elections. The outflow of Rohingya, fleeing violence and discrimination in western Myanmar against their ethnic group and Muslims in general, has attracted the most global news coverage.
Yet the flight of the Rohingya is but one issue undermining Myanmar’s stability. Fighting has flared again between the Myanmar army and ethnic Kokang rebels based near the Chinese border, a group known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. Last month, shelling from the conflict hit areas inside southwestern China. Since February, at least 200 people have been killed, and more than 50,000 driven out of their homes, by fighting between the Kokang and the Myanmar army. Many of those fleeing their houses have crossed into China looking for shelter. Meanwhile, in early June, conflict erupted along the Myanmar-India border as well, between ethnic Naga rebels and the Myanmar and Indian militaries. On June 4, Naga rebels ambushed an Indian army patrol, killing at least eighteen Indian soldiers in the deadliest single attack in northeastern India in two decades.
For more on Myanmar’s domestic challenges, and how they are spilling across borders, you can read my latest article for World Politics Review.