Myanmar’s democratic uprising: Junta on the brink as the NUG rises. China’s peace role questioned as civilians suffer. Global support urged for the democratic alliance and a post-junta rebirth.

In Myanmar, the National Unity Government and the pro-democracy military alliance are gaining ground on the failing military junta in Nay Pyi Taw. Meanwhile, efforts by China to broker peace talks have received a sceptical reaction. At the same time, the NUG is calling on international bodies and states to play a role in finally defeating the military which seized power there in February 2021. They also hope for help in building a new democratic Burma from the ruins of what is a raging civil war.

(Right) The Minister of Foreign Affairs for the National Unity Government in Myanmar, Ms Zin Mar Aung. (Left) Embattled junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing, along with scenes from the ongoing civil war and forces of the Arakan Army, fighting with the democratic alliance and forces associated with the National Unity Government.

In what could be history in the making, Myanmar is witnessing a seismic shift in power away from the hated junta regime.

Certainly, the National Unity Government (NUG), the democratic alliance standing against the military junta, is making substantial advances. Under the leadership of General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta is failing. It is suffering internal dissent, territorial losses, against an unwavering uprising. All looks like paving the way for its potential collapse.

Offensive since October 27 has driven the junta back, uprooted many of its military strongholds and destroyed any remaining confidence within its ranks 

Following Operation 1027 by the Three Brotherhood Alliance on October 27, the military junta is even more on the back foot. It has experienced a series of setbacks. The coalition against it, composed of ethnic armed organisations, orchestrated a swift campaign that resulted in the capture of over 100 military outposts.

It also captured key highways, and strategic border crossings within a mere ten days. Ms Zin Mar Aung, the shadow foreign minister of the NUG, sheds light on the junta’s morale. She asserts: ‘The military junta and the soldiers are at their lowest point in history.’

Reports of extraordinary territorial losses are surfacing, indicating a tangible weakening of the junta’s grip on power. Rahman Yaacob of Australia’s Lowy Institute notes, ‘The Tatmadaw appears overstretched,’ as it contends with rebel forces and anti-junta movements within its controlled territories.

Civilians bear the brunt of the junta’s desperate efforts to assert authority in a dying struggle using air and sea forces. It has lost on the ground

As the junta desperately attempts to maintain control, civilians bear the brunt of escalating violence. The Three Brotherhood Alliance reports that, since the inception of Operation 1027, approximately 126 civilians have lost their lives, and 204 are injured. Nearly 400 homes have been destroyed across northern Shan State.

The junta is using its air force and gunships at sea and on waterways to attack civilian areas.

UNOCHA is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is estimated that around 115,000 people are displaced in that region alone.

At this point, Rakhine State also bears witness to intensified attacks on civilians by the junta. It is lashing out trying to assert a fading and diminishing authority.

In summary, Churches, villages, and historical sites have become targets of junta airstrikes and shelling. The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, demanding urgent attention from the global community.

In an attempt to maintain its influence, China has assumed the role of a mediator. At any rate, it is facilitating peace talks between the junta and rebel groups.

Bangkok sends delegation to meet Myanmar’s pariah junta regime in its eerie capital Nay Pyi Taw
Myanmar’s junta crumbles along with Russia’s war in Ukraine as the US progresses in the Indo-Pacific

Significantly, Thailand also attempted dialogue with the regime in Nay Pyi Taw. This occurred in the dying days of the government of General Prayut Chan Ocha.

Scepticism and distrust among pro-democracy figures about China’s role in brokering peace talks between the parties. China is seen as a key junta ally

Certainly, the development adds layers of complexity to Myanmar’s political landscape, given China’s historical ties with ethnic militias and its influence over the junta. As well as that, key figures within the NUG express caution and scepticism. They cite past support for the junta and public concern over Chinese commercial interests in the war-torn country.

Moreover, Zin Mar Aung underscores the NUG’s democratic vision amid growing international recognition. She urges the global community to engage with the legitimate government. Despite China’s newfound mediation role, democratic forces harbour distrust, emphasising the need for a thorough examination of past allegiances.

Internally, the junta exhibits signs of fragmentation, with reports of defections and soldiers more regularly expressing a readiness to surrender. Ms Zin Mar Aung notes, ‘We are receiving many defectors, and most of the military camps are ready to surrender.’ This internal strife contributes to the growing consensus that the junta is on the brink of collapse.

Calls for the United States and international players to play a role in post-junta efforts to build a viable, prosperous and peaceful democracy in Myanmar

Analysts, including Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations, also suggest that the Tatmadaw’s, overstretched position. This is the hated Burmese military or army. With assassinations of junta allies carried out in NUG military operations and a diminished governance ability, the path leads inexorably to collapse.

As the NUG gains momentum and the junta faces a precipitous fall, the international community’s engagement now becomes pivotal. 

Explicitly, the NUG’s commitment to democratic principles and minority rights is emphasised, urging nations to prepare for a post-junta Myanmar. The United States is urgently called upon to support the NUG’s vision. This calls for navigating a delicate transition to prevent the country from descending into chaos.

War drags on as civilians fight for democracy and a final end to authoritarian rule in their country

As well as that, Myanmar’s population wants to see it again brought in from the cold as it was between 2016 and 2021. This is what the revolution is being fought for.

Since October 27, the Three Brotherhood Alliance’s Operation 1027 has seen continuous success, with ongoing territorial gains against the junta. Civilian casualties and displacement have surged, placing a strain on humanitarian efforts. Reports indicate heightened attacks in Rakhine State. At the same time, emerging intelligence into the dynamics of the junta reveals a leadership struggling with internal dissent over its diminishing grip on power.

Undeniably, Myanmar stands at a critical juncture, with the NUG surging forward and the junta struggling to retain control. Many of the People’s Defence Armed Forces (PDF), the military force of the NUG government, are civilian volunteers.

At any rate, the choices made in these pivotal moments will shape the nation’s destiny.

As the NUG advances and the junta fights to survive, the people of Myanmar yearn for a future defined by democracy, freedom, and the rejection of authoritarian rule. The world watches closely, recognising the historic significance of Myanmar’s struggle for liberation.

A challenge for those who hope to see a peaceful and united Burma after the junta is finally defeated

Correspondingly, the failure and potential collapse of the Burmese dictatorship would be a big win for democracy in Southeast Asia. The origin of this revolution is the murder of civilians who protested against the military takeover of power in February 2021.

Previously, in early 2021, as the regime of General Min Aung Hlaing installed itself and received recognition from neighbouring countries including ASEAN members and particularly Thailand, it ruthlessly suppressed opposition to its power.

At length, a victory for the National Unity Government and the opposition alliance would be a victory for democracy but would present a new Myanmar or Burma as it may come to be known again, with a challenge. 

The need to make democracy work and to achieve unity between the disparate forces that now make up the prevailing alliance as it moves towards victory.

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Further reading:

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