Recent events in Myanmar indicate an escalation of conflict involving ethnic minority armed groups, primarily the Arakan Army (AA), in addition to the ongoing offensive by the Three Brotherhood Alliance. The Myanmar military junta is facing heightened challenges, both in terms of territorial control and internal stability. The conflict has spilled into Mizoram in northeast India as it has prompted cross-border exodus of displaced Myanmarese nationals.
Latest reports say that ethnic minority armed groups in Myanmar have launched coordinated attacks on security posts in two new fronts, in western Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin states, forcing thousands of people to flee into neighboring India in its wake. The attacks come as Myanmar’s military junta is facing its biggest test since taking power in a 2021 coup due to an alliance of ethnic minority armed groups that started an offensive in late October.
The latest attacks were carried out by the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State and by ethnic armed groups in Chin State. News agency Reuters reported that AA spokesman Khine Thu Kha said the group had seized posts in the Rathedaung and Minbya areas, about 200 km (124 miles) apart.
Meanwhile, it is reported that several Myanmar nationals who were injured in retaliatory airstrike by the military in Chin state crossed the border to Mizoram on Monday and took refuge in Champhai district.
As per a Deccan Herald report, official sources in Mizoram said fresh influx from Myanmar into Champhai was reported following the airstrike by the Myanmar military against Chinland Defence Force (CDF), an armed force of the pro-democracy protesters. There were reports about dropping two bombs by a fighter jet of Myanmar military in Rhikhawdar village of Chin state, which is about four kilometers away from Zokhawdar village in Champhai district of Mizoram. The fresh conflict erupted after the CDF reportedly took control of an army camp in Rhikhawdar village. An official in Champhai said at least 20 injured Myanmar nationals, including women and children were being provided treatment in the district hospitals on “humanitarian ground,” the report said.
An NDTV report also said that the fresh fighting has triggered another rush of Chin-Kuki refugees from Myanmar to India via Mizoram.
“Fighting started on Sunday evening and continued through the night. There are also reports of bombing close to the international border, but there’s no damage on the Indian side,” the Imphal Times quoted the Deputy Commissioner of Champhai, James Lalrinchhana, as saying.
The attacks are a sign of the growing strength of the anti-junta resistance movement. The Three Brotherhood Alliance has seized more than 80 military bases and seized large caches of military weapons and ammunition in recent days.
The situation in Myanmar is becoming increasingly volatile with a complex web of ethnic, political, and military dynamics at play. The conflict has intensified, placing significant strain on the military junta and causing a humanitarian crisis with regional implications.
The Brotherhood Alliance and Operation 1027
The Brotherhood Alliance, a tripartite ethnic alliance comprising the Arakan Army (AA) from Rakhine State, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), launched Operation 1027 on October 27. The operation was planned and spearheaded by the Three Brotherhood Alliance, along with allies the Bama People’s Liberation Army (BPLA), the reformed Communist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Mandalay People’s Defense Force (MNDF), the Asia Times reports.
The operation is the biggest and best-organized offensive mounted against the milit \ary regime since the 2021 coup. According to a report in The Irrawaddy news portal, the goals of the operation are to root out the military dictatorship, fulfill the wishes of the people of the country and protect them from the junta’s daily arbitrary killings.
In the first five days of the operation, the Brotherhood Alliance and allied resistance groups managed to seize nearly 90 junta outposts including strategic bases across northern Shan State and Kachin State.
The alliance has also taken complete control of Phaung Sai town in Muse Township as well as the town of Chin Shwe Haw, a key hub for border trade with China.
Additionally, the MNDAA has occupied the township police station and regime General Administrative Department office in Hsenwi, and is now trying to seize full control of the town, which has strategic importance to the junta as it is situated on a key Myanmar-China trade route in northern Shan State.
The blocking of the main trade routes has halted the flow of trade between Myanmar and China. Up to 80 percent of the country’s exports are transported to China via the trade routes in northern Shan. Some analysts said Operation 1027 will cause the junta heavy losses of foreign income as tax revenues from Myanmar-China trade flows are equal to 80 percent of the junta’s daily expenses.
The Brotherhood Alliance has announced that another aim of its operation is to eradicate cyber scam syndicates in the Kokang region, which are reportedly mainly operated by the military regime and allied militia groups.
China has frequently expressed its eagerness to see action taken against the online scam operations, saying they seriously harm Chinese interests.
‘Myanmar at risk of breaking apart’
Myanmar’s acting president, Myint Swe, has warned that the country is at risk of breaking apart if the junta fails to suppress armed groups, the Daily Wire has reported. Speaking at a meeting of the National Defense and Security Council recently, attended by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other officials, Myint Swe said that the government must “effectively manage the incidents happening in the border region” to prevent the country from splitting up.
Myint Swe was vice president under the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, which was ousted by the military in 2021. Myanmar’s junta later appointed him acting president.
The warning comes as fighting has raged for nearly two weeks across the northeastern Shan state, near Myanmar’s border with China.
As per the DW report, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities make up around a third of the country’s 54 million inhabitants. More recently, some of the armed groups have trained and equipped “People’s Defense Forces” (PDF) since the 2021 coup and the ensuing military crackdown.