Myanmar Spring Chronicle : Military Council Retreats from Rakhine, Escalating Clashes in Other Regions

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – February 17 by MoeMaKa Media:

Military Council Retreats from Rakhine, Escalating Clashes in Other Regions

As the conflict in Rakhine State enters its fourth month, the military council faces significant setbacks, prompting a strategic retreat from northern areas. The Arakan Army (AA), boasting enhanced weaponry and manpower, continues to exert pressure, resulting in military council troops surrendering and seeking refuge in neighboring countries through inter-governmental channels. Recent reports indicate the deliberate destruction of bridges along the northern Rakhine route, reflecting a reevaluation of defensive strategies and regrouping of forces in areas deemed strategically advantageous.

While the military council grapples with decisions on defending key territories in southern Rakhine, including the state capital, the uncertainty looms over areas vital for China’s strategic investments, such as Kyaukphyu. The AA’s aim to extend control over southern Rakhine, encompassing Toungup, Thandwe, and Gwa, poses a formidable challenge to the military council’s ability to maintain stability in the region.

The situation intensifies as the AA advances toward Ann Township, home to the Western Regional Military Command, reminiscent of the earlier conflict in North Shan. The military council’s grip on Rakhine State becomes increasingly tenuous as the AA asserts dominance in key areas.

Simultaneously, in regions beyond Rakhine, violent clashes escalate between military council forces and ethnic armed groups, People’s Defense Force (PDF) units, resulting in the pillaging and destruction of villages, along with civilian casualties.

Disturbing reports emerge from Gangaw Township in northern Magway Division, where military council columns are reported to have entered villages near Myauk Khin Yan Village, killing several villagers. Thintaw Village witnessed at least seven civilian deaths, while three were killed in Shwe Bo Village, bordering these areas. The villages surrounding Myauk Khin Yan have been divided in their allegiance, with some supporting the PDF and others aligning with the military council.

In the northern regions of Myanmar, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) engages in fierce clashes with military council camps in Mansi Township. The KIA’s objective is reported to be the capture of the Military Council’s Sikhamgyi camp. The conflict in Mansi Township, bordering Namhkam Township, sees the KIA striving to reclaim areas seized by the military council in previous battles.

Meanwhile, in Karen State, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and its allies intensify efforts to seize Kawkareik Town since November. The protracted city-capture battle has resulted in dozens of civilian casualties, with more than 300 houses reported destroyed by fires. Kawkareik, strategically located between Myawaddy and Hpa-An, serves as a pivotal point on the Indu-Myawaddy road, marking the beginning of the Myawaddy-Kawkareik Asian Road.

As the military council faces challenges on multiple fronts, Myanmar grapples with the widening ramifications of conflicts, displacement, and the profound impact on its diverse communities.