Sagaing Forum; Peace Talk between 3 Members of the Northern Alliance and the Military Council

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – June 01 Scenes

MoeMaKa, June 02, 2023

Sagaing Forum; Peace Talk between 3 Members of the Northern Alliance and the Military Council

A forum called the Sagaing Forum was held on May 30 and 31, where the armed forces, strike committees, and social organizations that are active in the Sagaing region and are fighting against the military council gathered to discuss military and political issues online.

The organization that organized the forum stated that more than 170 groups, including armed forces, strike committees, and civil organizations from Sagaing Division, attended the forum. Last year, about 30 organizations gathered and discussed. These 30 organizations have discussed gathering more organizations for discussion, and so, this discussion called the forum, which includes more than a hundred organizations, has emerged.

The unique features of the Sagaing Forum are that it is a non-NUG-sponsored political-military discussion, and 70 percent of the PDF armed forces included in the forum are not under the NUG, which are known as the LPDF established locally. It is also seen in the news that alliance organizations, including the NUG, ABSDF, and other ethnic armed groups, have sent messages to the Sagaing Forum.

Regarding the Sagaing Forum, there are also concerns about whether this forum indicates that the NUG has no control over the Sagaing Division. In an interview with the news media, one of the organizers of the forum said seriously that this forum is not a third party organization formed from the separation of the National Unity Government, but a platform to discuss ways of cooperation between the armed forces and civil organizations in Sagaing.

Sagaing Region has not been able to establish a state or regional consultative council like some other states, and there is a need to have a communication system that allows armed organizations operating within the region to work together in political and military ways.

It is clear that the purpose of holding this forum is to bring together the armed organizations that are active in each village or town in Sagaing and act as political and military organizations. It is interesting to see how much time it will take to implement the agreed-upon points discussed and suggested in the forum.

Another topic for today is the news that the military council’s National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) and the 3 members of the Northern Alliance are meeting in Mongla, in northern Shan State. There is no doubt that this talk has emerged at the instigation of China. Behind these political steps, it can be seen as China’s urging and using its influence to force some ethnic armed groups to transform armed conflict into a path of dialogue. This step is the next step after granting amnesty to more than 2,000 people arrested under political Section 505-A on May 3, last month’s full moon day of Kason, and the annulment of the death sentences of 38 people.

These 3 groups are the Arakan Army, which is active in Rakhine State and originated in Northern Laiza; the MNDAA, which the civilians call the Kokang armed group; and the TNLA Ta’ang ethnic armed group. It is not wrong to say that these groups are the ones that have attacked or are currently attacking the military council the most among the northern groups.

I don’t think it would be wrong to generally conclude that China is trying to drag the military council from the war into dialogue. Before the military coup, there were instances where China pushed the northern armed groups to attend the peace conference in Nay Pyi Taw. Now, after the expansion of armed conflict in Myanmar after the coup, China does not want raging war and armed conflict in Myanmar, a country that is a neighbor to them, a country that has their investment interests, and which is the outlet of the Indian Ocean from the southeastern regions of China in terms of political geography. As the ethnic armed groups based in the northern region of Myanmar, need to engage with the Chinese government on one hand, it remains to be seen how they will handle this urge from China.