Sunday, January 13, 2013

A wider war looms in Myanmar

I do not think people expected this after we initiated our reengagement with Burma.  And of course the excerpt below is perhaps the crux of the problem and illustrates one of the conundrums we face: do we support our interests; e.g., international stability of the nation-state system and respect sovereignty or do we stand up for a fundamental US value; e.g., the right to self-determination of a people.  
There are two fundamentally opposed and seemingly incompatible views on how Myanmar's decades-long ethnic quagmire should be resolved. The KIA and other ethnic groups want autonomy within a federal union, while the government wants to uphold the present 2008 Constitution, which lays the foundations for a centralized system. 
The question is can there be compromise and a political resolution to the differences between the ethnic groups and the Burmese government?  

A wider war looms in Myanmar
By Bertil Lintner 

CHIANG MAI - Recent weeks have seen some of the heaviest fighting in Myanmar's decades-long civil war with government forces launching determined attacks against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic guerrilla force in the far north of the country. 

For the first time ever, the government has used helicopter gunships and modern, sophisticated attack aircraft against the ethnic rebels, an escalation that has earned condemnation from

human-rights groups and undermined President Thein Sein's credibility as a national peacemaker. 

Most of the fighting is taking place around the KIA's headquarters at the border town of Laiza near China. The government seems determined to crush the Kachin resistance and gain control over the area now administered by the rebels. 

The ongoing offensive may cripple the KIA militarily, but it will likely not defeat the rebel resistance. Observers fear that the outcome will be intense ethnic hatred, making it even more difficult to establish a lasting peace. Many Kachin now feel that there is no place for them in Myanmar. 

"We know that it is wrong to feel that way, but we can't help it," says a Kachin women in the state capital Myitkyina. Adding insult to injury, the airstrikes against the Kachin, the vast majority of whom are Christian, began in earnest on Christmas Eve. "This we will never forget or forgive," said a Kachin community worker. 

The Kachins have become even more antagonized because of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's refusal to intervene in the crisis. Despite several appeals to the former Nobel Peace Prize laureate to act in a war in her own country, Suu Kyi has steadfastly refused to take a stand. On January 6, she told Agence France-Presse that she would not step in to help end the worsening conflict without official approval. 
(Continued at the link below)

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