The 1 February coup d’état has pushed Myanmar toward possible state collapse. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to channel significant aid to Myanmar, support regional diplomacy, expand targeted sanctions on the regime and ensure that the EU arms embargo is strictly enforced.
In his monthly take ahead of CrisisWatch, Interim President Richard Atwood looks at recent diplomacy in the Middle East and prospects for assuaging two of the rivalries that have fuelled Arab wars over the past decade.
In order to silence opposition to the February coup, Myanmar’s military is vigorously policing the internet as it quashes street protests. Outside powers and technology companies should endeavour to keep the online space free of interference and deny the junta tools of virtual repression.
Peace in the Philippines’ majority-Muslim region requires disarming 40,000 ex-rebels and encouraging economic development where they live. But progress toward these goals, together called “normalisation”, is sputtering. Both Manila and the former insurgents need to hit the accelerator lest the process lose momentum entirely.
Two months after the 1 February coup, Myanmar is in a deep crisis. The military seems bent on imposing its will, using draconian tactics that are only strengthening demonstrators’ will to resist. International actors should stay united in urging the junta to change course.
Myanmar’s military overthrew its newly elected parliament on 1 February, halting the country’s democratic transition and sparking massive protests. External actors should cooperate to prevent a violent crackdown and adopt tailored measures that target coup leaders, without penalising the population or damaging the broader economy.
Peace talks in Afghanistan have only inched forward even as the pace of conflict has picked up. As the Afghan government and Taliban await clearer policy signals from the incoming U.S. administration, their primary goal should be to keep the vital negotiations going.
An informal ceasefire has created the best opportunity in two years to curb fighting between Myanmar and the Arakan Army, the ethnic Rakhine rebels in the country’s north. To seize it, all three of the military, civilian government and insurgency need to make significant concessions.
It’s hard to downplay the risks in [Myanmar,] a very ethnically diverse country populated with a variety of armed movements and armed actors.
The counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan had for years now become one of prevention, not one of identifying an imminent threat that must be countered.
It's a tragedy that the U.S. didn't get serious about trying to stitch together a peace process in Afghanistan much earlier, before the thread ran out.
I think [the new Iran-China deal] will make Europe and the U.S. a little more nervous because it looks like Iran may have a way out of economic strangulation.
[The legitimacy the Taliban want is] never going to come without engaging with the outside world and the international community.
There will inevitably be calls for UN sanctions [against Myanmar], but I don’t think China and Russia are ready to go that far.
Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Spring Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Bolivia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Ukraine and Yemen.
Delays in the decommissioning of Moro rebels and other measures threaten the fragile peace in the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Originally published in The Diplomat
Originally published in World Politics Review
Washington’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 11 September spells an end to the U.S. military deployment but not peace. Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins anticipates that negotiations will likely stall and Afghans will fear an intensified civil war as the U.S. role evolves.
In a briefing to the UN Security Council’s 9 April 2021 'Arria-Formula' Meeting on the situation in Myanmar, Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert Richard Horsey warned that the country stands on the brink of state failure, and argued that there is every justification for the Council to impose an arms embargo on the regime.