Myanmar 2023: New conflicts and coalitions reshape war narrative, challenging an embattled junta

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Abstract

The crisis in Myanmar continues to eschew easy categorisations or even a simple meta-narrative of the post-coup dynamics. The complexities on the ground, including the fluidity of context-specific alliances and conflict dynamics, have come to encompass an ever-growing number of regions across the country. In 2023, as in the preceding years, the Myanmar Armed Forces failed in their efforts to consolidate power and continued to lack control of both people and territory. While there were continuities across recent years, which perhaps suggests a sense of tragic and protracted déjà vu, 2023 was not just another year of ‘much of the (grim) same’. The greatest novelty was the escalation of violence in Shan State, which had previously avoided much of the anti-coup armed resistance, and the rekindling of violence in Rakhine State. Operation 1027 saw an emerging coalition of ethnic armed organisations and even People’s Defence Forces in Shan State in October 2023 take on the military and expose its vulnerabilities. While this may seem optimistic in current circumstances, the military appears increasingly embattled, and its forces are spread thin. Cyclone Mocha further deepened the humanitarian crisis, especially in the western coastal areas. International support from Russia and China remains solid, with the cracks within ASEAN and other neighbours coming to the fore. China became more engaged throughout the year, partly to decrease volatility on its borders. Beijing also sought to enhance its leverage over all parties and containing the western alignment of the pro-democracy movement. Overall, coordination among the anti-junta forces increased compared to previous years, but a united front remained elusive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235
Number of pages257
JournalAsia Maior
VolumeXXXIV
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2024

Keywords

  • Myanmar
  • Shan
  • Rakhine
  • Rohingya
  • Operation 1027
  • Cyclone Mocha

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