Podcast / Asia 1 minutes

Myanmar’s Forgotten War

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks with Richard Horsey, Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert, about the war in Myanmar and why such a grave crisis in the heart of Asia is getting so little attention.

In February 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup that plunged the country into a protracted crisis. Mass protests against the junta met a brutal crackdown and morphed into armed resistance, with new groups, known as people’s defence forces, fighting the army across swathes of rural Myanmar. Some of the country’s ethnic armed organisations, older rebel forces that have battled the Myanmar army for decades mostly from the country’s upland areas, have thrown their weight behind the new resistance. Others have sat out the fighting. The Myanmar military’s scorched-earth tactics entail airstrikes and other attacks that indiscriminately target civilians in an attempt to punish dissent and cut off support for the resistance. Outside efforts to halt the fighting and force the military to cede power have mostly been left to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and have made no headway.

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Richard Horsey, Crisis Group’s Myanmar expert, to talk about the war and why ending it is not a greater priority for global powers. They discuss how fighting between the military and resistance groups has evolved, the military’s brutal counter-insurgency approach and both sides’ calculations. They explore why some ethnic armed groups support the resistance while others have taken advantage of the crisis to consolidate their influence in other ways. They also talk about the international politics of the crisis: Russia’s support to the junta, China’s recent diplomatic engagement, thus far ineffective ASEAN diplomacy and Western powers’ half-hearted involvement. They discuss why a more concerted international effort could matter, notwithstanding the Myanmar military’s longstanding intransigence to outside influence. They also look at the war’s longer-term implications and why ending it should be a greater priority for the world. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. 

For more analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, be sure to check out our Myanmar country page.


Executive Vice President
Senior Adviser, Myanmar

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.