Shifting Military Dynamics Heighten Anxiety in Lashio and Muse

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 9, 2024 by MoeMaKa Media

: Shifting Military Dynamics Heighten Anxiety in Lashio and Muse

Amidst the evolving dynamics within the Military Council, residents of Lashio and Muse find themselves living in a state of heightened anxiety as these cities emerge as potential targets in the conflict-ridden northern Shan region.

Recent announcements by the Military Council included the replacement of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Lieutenant General Moe Aung, who was subsequently appointed as the national security advisor of the State Administration Council (SAC) and the minister of the State Council President’s Office No. 4. This move, perceived by many as an attempt to placate the former Navy chief, positions him in roles with seemingly little authority, possibly to mitigate dissent within the military ranks.

The State Administration Council Offices from 1 to 4 are viewed as entities created to provide temporary assignments to individuals removed or suspended from other positions, rather than ministries with substantial responsibilities. The recent reshuffling is believed to be a strategic maneuver to quell dissatisfaction within the military ranks and ensure the loyalty of key personnel.

The decision to reassign Lt. Gen. Moe Aung comes at a critical juncture when the military faces simultaneous challenges on multiple fronts, losing territories, camps, and towns in northern Shan State. The military’s attempt to convey a change in the prevailing situation raises questions about the effectiveness of the current leadership, with former military officers openly expressing discontent on social media platforms.

Critics argue that the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, has displayed incompetence in military command, particularly as ethnic armed forces make significant territorial gains in northern Shan State. The capture of key towns and the surrender of a substantial military force in Laukkaing DaKaSa have intensified public criticism.

In response, Min Aung Hlaing may seek a ceasefire opportunity to regroup and weaken enemy forces, preventing the loss of towns and camps one by one. China, with its significant influence over three ethnic armed groups attacking the military council, emerges as a potential mediator. The military council’s three meetings with these ethnic armed groups in Kunming, China, have yet to yield the desired results, highlighting the complexities in reaching an agreement on a ceasefire and halting offensives.

Lashio and Muse, two crucial cities in northern Shan, have become the next focal points after the fall of Kutkai and Namtu. Lashio, housing the Northeastern Regional Military Command and serving as the administrative headquarters of northern Shan State, faces increasing speculation as the next targeted city. Residents, weighing the risks, are opting to leave the city, navigating broken bridges and security hazards to seek refuge in cities like Taunggyi and Mandalay.

The strategic deployment of around 2,400 forces from SaKaKha and DaKaSa, who surrendered and retreated from Laukkaing, is anticipated in Lashio for its defense. In the coming weeks, reports of potential attacks on Lashio and Muse are expected, further escalating the tension in these vital northern Shan cities.