*Second Round of Talks Between 3 Northern Groups and Military Council Ends Without Resolution*

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – December 26 by MoeMaKa Media

*Second Round of Talks Between 3 Northern Groups and Military Council Ends Without Resolution*

The anticipated second round of talks between the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances and the Military Council, held in China, has concluded with no discernible progress or agreement, according to recent news reports.

The initial discussions, facilitated by China in the first week of December at the Ritz Hotel in Kunming, aimed at brokering a ceasefire between the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances and the Military Council. Despite reports of an agreement reached during the first meeting, the ground reality painted a different picture, with ongoing intense clashes between the military council and the combined forces of the TNLA and AA in Namhkam, Muse, Namhsan, and Manton. The MNDAA, operating in the Kokang region, had briefly slowed its hostilities around Laukkaing but resumed attacks on December 18.

Surprisingly, the second round of talks, initially slated for the end of December or early January, occurred earlier in the month, raising questions about the catalyst behind this rapid follow-up. The instigator remains unclear, with speculations centering on either China or the military council. Given the strategic advantage held by the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances, instigation by these armed groups seems less likely.

The military council, facing a series of setbacks, may view dialogue as an opportunity to rejuvenate its position amidst continuous territorial losses. Simultaneously, China might be motivated by concerns over heightened border attacks by ethnic armed groups and the potential ramifications on its strategic interests, particularly the security of the oil and natural gas pipeline connecting Yunnan Province to Myanmar.

Critical considerations for China likely include safeguarding the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port and special economic zone, as well as determining the influential figures along the transit area. These factors possibly prompted an expedited second round of talks as both China and the military council seek to temper the escalating armed conflict.

In the three-day meeting held from December 22 to 24, the military council reportedly discussed matters such as the reopening of border trade and troop deployments. However, the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances view their captured territories as successes and are unlikely to withdraw from these strategic locations. It is anticipated that the military council may request withdrawals under the pretext of maintaining border trade routes.

The Kokang armed group’s ambition to control Laukkaing and potentially demand the removal of the military council’s regional command headquarters from the area adds complexity to the deployment discussions. Given the military council’s weakened military position, a formal agreement on such points during discussions remains improbable, potentially culminating in inconclusive talks.

The TNLA and AA, enjoying military successes in battles across Northern Shan State, approach the discussions from a position of advantage. Concurrently, the AA is actively engaged in Rakhine State, attempting to capture Pauktaw and seizing the police station in Mrauk-U.

The meeting represents a convergence of the military council and ethnic armed groups sharing common ground. While each of the 3 Northern Brotherhood Alliances pursues distinct military and political objectives, the precise nature of TNLA’s political goals remains uncertain. The military council, handicapped in Northern Shan State, faces challenges in regaining lost ground. The dynamics of this evolving situation will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of future discussions and military engagements.