Myanmar

Crisis Group is monitoring the upsurge in violence in the country triggered by the military's 1 February 2021 coup d'état which deposed the Aung San Suu Kyi administration. The regime has brutally cracked down on protesters, killing hundreds and detaining thousands. Public sector strikes and other forms of civil disobedience have prevented the regime from consolidating its control, and plunged the country into deep economic crisis. Some of the country’s ethnic armed groups have gone on the offensive, and new forms of armed resistance by civilian militias and underground networks have emerged. Although Rakhine State has so far avoided some of the worst of the violence, the plight of the Rohingya remains unaddressed and the prospects for a return of almost one million languishing in camps in Bangladesh looks bleak. Through field research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to understand the new violent dynamics unleashed by the coup and mitigate the impact on the people of the country.

CrisisWatch Myanmar

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Ethnic armed groups in south east, west and north dealt regime further battlefield defeats, highlighting its weakness amid risk of intensifying hostilities; communal tensions in Rakhine state foreshadowed potential violence, including against civilians.

In south east, regime temporarily lost control of important border town. In Kayin state (south east), Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied resistance groups 11 April overran last military base in key trading town Myawaddy on Thai border, which handles billions of dollars of annual trade. KNLA did not occupy town, which is being patrolled by armed group Karen National Army (KNA) that was formerly allied with regime; KNA subsequently facilitated return of regime forces to one base in town. Regime reinforcement convoy attempted to fight its way to Myawaddy, but faced repeated ambushes. Regime efforts to repel KNLA and allied forces from around Myawaddy could fuel fighting and displacement, including into Thailand, where hundreds have already fled (see Thailand); Thailand’s PM Srettha Thavisin 8 April asserted regime was “losing” and ought to “make a deal”.

In west, Arakan Army (AA) advanced in Rakhine state amid communal tensions. AA effectively encircled regimes forces in Ann township, home to military’s Western Command headquarters, and late April captured tactical command base near headquarters, raising prospect of surge in fighting if group seeks to overrun headquarters. Meanwhile, communal tensions rose significantly in state’s north between Rakhine and Rohingya communities over military’s alleged forced recruitment of Rohingya and collaboration with Rohingya armed groups, particularly Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Underscoring risk of communal violence or atrocities against civilians, two Rakhine men were found dead 11 April in Buthidaung town, as hundreds of homes were torched over subsequent days in town; AA accused military and Rohingya armed groups of targeting homes of Rakhine and Hindu residents who had fled; Rohingya similarly accused AA of attacks against civilians.

In north, Kachin forces continued offensive. In Kachin state (north), Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked road running east from Bhamo to Loije town, which is one of five official trade gates with China; last remaining regime troops in Loije 8 April fled into China. KIA thereafter made progress toward capturing Hpakant township, home to lucrative jade mines. 

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In The News

27 Apr 2024
Myanmar isn't a well-functioning, centralized state that has suddenly fallen into atomization… It's always been fragmented to some extent or another. Deutsche Welle

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
16 Feb 2024
The [Myanmar] military is clearly facing significant manpower shortages, which is why it is introducing a draft for the first time in its history. Reuters

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
30 Ian 2024
The military [in Myanmar] might not have the ability to vanquish its opponents, but it retains an enormous capacity for violence, especially against civilian targets. VOA

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
13 Dec 2023
When the Myanmar military feels under pressure, its normal response is to ramp up the level of violence. The Wall Street Journal

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
14 Noi 2023
Myanmar needs Russia because it doesn't want to be isolated ... and they also need an alternative to China in the region. Newsweek

Oleg Ignatov

Senior Analyst, Russia
13 Noi 2023
If combat persists [in Rakhine State], it will open a significant new front for the regime [in Myanmar], which is already overstretched. Reuters

Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar

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Richard Horsey

Senior Adviser, Myanmar
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