Fuel Shortage and General Crisis Grips Major Cities

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – December 9

MoeMaKa, December 10, 2023

Fuel Shortage and General Crisis Grips Major Cities

This week, Yangon, Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Taunggyi, and other densely populated cities are grappling with the arduous task of procuring fuel. City residents, vehicle owners, motorbike riders, and transportation workers find themselves spending hours in queues, searching for fuel stations, and grappling with increasing daily troubles. Some individuals argue that the fuel shortage is a concern only for car owners, drawing comparisons to the hardships faced by those fleeing conflict zones in towns and villages. Rumors circulate about urban dwellers complaining about relatively trivial matters.

Critics emphasize that while the fuel problem poses economic, social, and livelihood challenges, it does not yet represent a life-threatening situation. They contend that the highest-level concern is the danger to life, and the current fuel problem falls short of that threshold. However, the wide-ranging impacts of the fuel shortage are undeniable, affecting both city and town residents. Some fail to recognize that fuel is a basic necessity for survival. The potential consequences of fuel scarcity extend beyond transportation difficulties and could jeopardize life even in conflict zones without adequate fuel or vehicles. A fuel crisis might disrupt communication networks, rendering critical warning information unavailable and potentially endangering lives.

Presently, numerous townships in Rakhine State are grappling with such incidents. For nearly a month, the military council has restricted the entry and exit of people and goods into Rakhine State by land and water. Some areas in Rakhine State lack phone lines or internet connections, causing communication breakdowns. While major cities like Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Magway, and Shan State experience no internet outages, conflict zones suffer disruptions in internet services. In Sagaing, phone lines are the only available communication method, as the military council has severed the internet.

These outcomes are consequences of the ongoing war. Both conflicting sides, in their bid for military advantage, destroy transportation routes, bridges, electricity transmission towers, and communication networks. After Operation 1027, the military council frequently disrupted communication networks, while revolutionary forces often destroyed bridges and roads to impede military reinforcements.

The crises described above are interconnected with the escalating military conflicts this month. Cities are witnessing soaring prices, employment freezes, and increased expenses for survival, causing urban residents to struggle against the rising tide. Armed groups are resorting to any action without hesitation to gain a military advantage.

As transportation networks face potential cutoffs, sudden unannounced attacks, and entrapment in conflict, armed organizations challenging the military council may find it increasingly challenging to secure public donations. Contributors to local revolutionary forces are grappling with greater financial difficulties, leading to a significant reduction in contributions to the revolutionary fund.

In the current context, major Western news outlets have published articles suggesting the imminent collapse of the military council in Myanmar, urging the United States to prepare. However, the United States, offering moral support to anti-military council forces and refraining from military intervention, is preoccupied with domestic opposition to aid in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Amidst global issues in the Middle East and other priorities, Myanmar’s affairs remain relatively low on the U.S. agenda. The Northern Brotherhood Alliances, operating independently of the United States, underscore China’s primary involvement in their operations rather than American influence. Despite closely monitoring Myanmar’s dynamic situation, the U.S. stance, articulated since the coup, remains unchanged: a refusal to participate in military assistance or armed attacks. The United States, grappling with challenges in Ukraine and the Middle East, is currently stretched thin.