Myanmar’s army is on the verge of defeats

 

Three years after Myanmar’s junta came to power in a military coup, it is believed to be at its worst.

Analysts say that since the military government seized power in February 2021, tensions have continued, but the army has never faced such a tense situation before.

Military patrol posts, arsenals and several towns have been seized by the rebels since ethnic rebel groups launched an offensive last October.

95 Myanmar border guards have taken refuge in Bangladesh after being attacked by insurgents on the last sleepy border, many of them injured.

It is known that not only Bangladesh, but two other neighboring countries, China and India, Myanmar soldiers have taken shelter before.

Such victories have encouraged other rebel groups to attack the military.

What is the strength of the rebels?

According to a Voice of America report, Myanmar’s opposition armed groups have 135,000 members from 20 ethnic groups, 65,000 members of the People’s Defense Force under the National Unity Government-NUG, and about 200,000 workers under the Civil Disobedient Movement.

NUG Deputy Minister for International Cooperation David Gum Ong previously told Voice of America, “The NUG formed an alliance in 2022 with several ethnic groups fighting for autonomy. They have a force of about 200,000 soldiers and will continue to grow. This is enough to deal with General Min Aung Laing’s forces.”

Myanmar’s military, on the other hand, is believed to have around 400,000 soldiers. But according to the US Institute for Peace, the Myanmar military has about 150,000 soldiers. This includes 70,000 combat-ready troops.According to the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, a group of experts working to promote Myanmar’s democracy, the country’s junta government has “full control” of only 17% of the territory, 23% of which is disputed and held by rebel groups. 52 percentTerrain likeHowever, this information could not be confirmed.

BBC Burmese Service Assistant Editor Aye Thu San told BBC Bangla that since the start of ‘Operation 1027’ discussed by the Three Brotherhood Alliance of three rebel groups in October 2023, they have taken over 30 cities in the country so far.

Arkan Women Soildiers

And since the military coup, Myanmar’s military has lost control of many parts of the country in the past three years. The military is currently facing an armed resistance unprecedented in Myanmar’s history.

Unprecedented surrenders have also been seen among the military. The military leaders were forced to accept military defeat.

The military council controls 33 percent of the country’s land, according to a survey conducted by Myanmar’s think tank ‘Institute for Strategy and Policy’, or ISP.

Now why strong rebels?

The US Institute of Peace says in their assessment that the current anti-authoritarian resistance in Myanmar appears to be successful so far.

Compared to its earlier pro-democracy movements in the country, the current resistance movement has taken the form of a national uprising and has spread among various classes who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to overthrow the junta government.

It serves as the basis for a successful resistance movement and is being implemented without structural barriers and any international support.

The organization says that after two consecutive years of small successes, the movement has since October 2023 launched a coordinated military campaign across the country, which is now effectively threatening the rule of the junta government.

More than 5,500 junta soldiers have been killed or captured since last October. There are 10 Brigadier Generals among them. Resistance forces have captured more than 30 cities.

In total, since the coup, the junta government has lost about 30,000 soldiers. Whereas the number of soldiers in Myanmar’s military is only one and a half million.

The military is facing daily defeats and is failing to regain control of the territory it has captured. In such a situation, the military is rapidly losing its ability to control the people.

Incidents such as airstrikes and fires targeting civilians serve no purpose except to further incite the population against the military.

Debbie Stothard, coordinator of an organization called Alternative Asian Network on Burma, told BBC Bengal that many areas of the country were still under the control of the rebels during the military coup in 2021. Who were called ethnic rebel groups.

“They were later joined by the People’s Defense Forces, mainly newly formed urban-based groups that were ready to take up arms against the junta government, as the junta government’s brutality against the civilian population escalated,” he said.

What do citizens think?

In the last three years, 2.6 million people of the country have been forced to become refugees.

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, an organization of former Myanmar politicians in exile, 4,300 people have been killed by the Myanmar military so far. 25 thousand people have been arrested.

The military, on the other hand, has claimed that at least 6,600 civilians have been killed by rebel forces.

Myanmar’s economy has also been in turmoil since the military coup. There have been at least three fuel shortages in the last year and commodity prices have also increased three times.

Gasoline prices are now at least three times higher than before the coup. Current price of 700 kyat per liter gasoline is 2800 kyat per liter.

Myanmar is currently the only country in East Asia where Covid-19 restrictions are still in place.

Daily Topnotch Burmese Service journalist Shing Jaou said, in such a situation, anger has also arisen among many supporters of the military. If the military is flexible in solving the current problem even after losing control in some areas, they are unlikely to support the army chief.

A report in the Irrawaddy newspaper, citing the UN special envoy to Myanmar, said that despite an increase in military spending in the post-coup budget, the junta government lost control of dozens of towns, hundreds of patrol posts, and an entire arsenal due to an offensive by rebel groups that began in October last year.

Due to such defeat, the staunch supporters of military rule have also demanded the resignation of army chief Min Aung Laing. Because they consider these defeats as a shame for the military.

After the fifth extension of the state of emergency in Myanmar on January 31, local residents started calling the army chief as ‘To’ or ‘Nabayan’ in Burmese.

Because according to Myanmar’s constitution, the country can temporarily declare a state of emergency for one year and then extend the period for a maximum of two six-month periods.

Min Aung Laing ignored this rule and extended the state of emergency for the fifth time. He claimed that the state of emergency should be extended to hold the promised elections by establishing peace and stability.

Back to the wall?

The Myanmar National Defense Alliance—the MNDAA, the Arakan Army and the Tang National Liberation Army, collectively known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance—ousted the military from northern Shan State in January.

It was assumed that a counter-attack would be launched. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Several generals in the state have surrendered and a fragile ceasefire is in place.

Regional observers say this is not only a defeat for the military, but a sign that the military is running out of popularity.

“This civil war in Myanmar has become unwinnable for Myanmar’s junta government and defeat is only a matter of time,” Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, told the AP news agency.

He said, “Even if you look at the numbers, it is understandable. They are losing troops every day, but no new troops are being recruited, no reinforcements are being given, no logistics are being re-supplied, no troops are willing to patrol anymore and they are constantly under attack.”

They have become dependent on airstrikes to survive the war.

However, analysts say, it cannot be said about the defeat of the army. Because the military forces are quickly turning around in other places even though they are facing problems in Shan State.

Human rights group Free Burma Rangers released a picture last week of Karen State showing insurgents paying the price at the hands of the military. Seven people were killed and 40 insurgents were injured in the battle with the army.

“Defeat is not ineitable for Myanmar’s military or the junta government,” said Richard Horsey, an adviser to a crisis group in Myanmar. But their backs are against the wall.”

“They know that the only way out of this situation is to keep fighting. And that’s what they will do. So defeat is not inevitable. But it seems a bit more likely now than it has been for the past several decades.”

Security analyst Major (retd) Emdadul Islam said it would be wrong to think that the Myanmar army has become weak. If the Myanmar army had been fighting the rebels in Sittwe or Nay Pyi Taw or around Rangoon, it would have been feared that they would have been weakened. But it is not visible.

He said, Arakan Army has no link with Myanmar National Defense. They have links with Kachin Independent Army, Shan, Tang or Wa Army. They are not associated with the National Unity Government.

Rather, currently the Northern Alliance or Friendship Alliance is blessed by China. Here the Myanmar military is again blessed by China. Rather, he thinks it is a well-planned strategy of China. China and India have huge geopolitical strategic and geopolitical economic interests in Arakan. He thinks that this war is going on from trying to hit each other on it.

What role is the international community playing?

Myanmar’s ongoing tension and instability pose a regional threat to neighboring countries, but the neighboring countries have yet to come forward with any kind of cooperation.

Among neighboring countries, Thailand has sheltered refugees fleeing Myanmar. But the new Thai government is trying to shun its traditional ties to the Myanmar military, limiting access to the area for Myanmar nationals.

India has been somewhat tough on this due to the unusual defeat of the Myanmar military on the battlefield and its inability to withstand the strong resistance forces that crossed the border into India. Recently they are also considering the option of barbed wire fencing along the border.

India has a 1643 km open border with Myanmar. At the same time, Indian Union Minister Amit Shah said that the Indian government is also considering canceling a six-year free movement agreement signed with Myanmar.

The agreement allows residents of Myanmar and India to travel within 16 km of each other’s borders without a visa.

The development of the junta government’s relationship with China is also under review. Beijing has supported ethnic insurgent groups, particularly the Three Brotherhood Alliance, in overthrowing a fraud ring operating inside Myanmar at the behest of military generals and targeting Chinese nationals.

The insurgent group has defeated the Kokang Border Guard Force in Shan State on the Sino-Myanmar border, which is linked to the operation of about 200 fraud syndicates in the area.

The change has prompted other ethnic rebel groups to launch all-out attacks on junta forces across the country. This brought the resistance of rebel groups to the outskirts of the city for the first time by capturing important military posts.

The United States has always pressured Myanmar’s military to restore democracy

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