How Will the Friction Among Armed Forces in Northern Shan State Be Solved?

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – April 25 Scenes
MoeMaKa, April 26, 2024

How Will the Friction Among Armed Forces in Northern Shan State Be Solved?

The offices and liaison offices of the KIA in areas captured during Operation 1027, specifically in the control areas of the TNLA Palaung armed group and the MNDAA Kokang group, were notified for removal by the MNDAA and TNLA. The first incident was when the TNLA issued a warning to the KIA liaison office in Kutkai to vacate by April 15.

The KIA liaison office has long existed in Kutkai, where many Kachin people live. During periods of strained relations between the KIA and the military government, KIA representatives could not reside in this office. Historical records indicate the KIA’s liaison office became active again after the TNLA, a group recently engaged in combat against the military council, attacked and occupied Kutkai. The KIA has been based in Kutkai and surrounding areas for a long time, with the area designated as the Kachin Sub-State region during British colonial rule. During Operation 1027, the TNLA captured Kutkai and took over its administration. Near Kutkai, Namhpatkar Village, located on the road to Namhkam, was captured by KIA troops late in Operation 1027.

Additionally, Monekoe in Muse District, near the China border, was seized by the MNDAA at the onset of Operation 1027. Historically, Monekoe was controlled by the Communist Party of Burma for two decades until the party’s collapse in April 1989, when the Kokang group leader Pheung Kya Shin took control. He was later removed by the Myanmar military government, and the military council had control until recently.

Northern Shan State is home to various ethnic groups, including Shan, Ta’ang Palaung, Kokang, and Kachin. Each group has historically settled in different areas, with distinct territories and armed groups based on ethnic lines. Namhkam Town, for instance, is inhabited by Kachin, Shan, and Ta’ang Palaung people, while Mansi Township, bordering Namhkam, has a majority Kachin population. However, Mansi is part of Kachin State, while Namhkam is in Shan State.

During Operation 1027, the 3 Brotherhood Alliance collectively attacked the military council troops. The Haigen Agreement, discussed in Kunming, Yunnan Province, in January, led to a cease-fire, with the military council and the alliance agreeing to halt hostilities. The alliance maintained control over their territories and began establishing administrative structures.

Territorial control, tax collection, and soldier recruitment are the three main issues likely to cause friction among these ethnic armed groups. Without discussions, conflicts could arise. Recent incidents highlight these issues, and how they are resolved will be crucial.

Will these issues be resolved through political dialogue? If not, there is a possibility of armed conflict. At a time when efforts to overthrow the military dictator are ongoing, any conflict between allied armed groups will weaken these efforts.

Resolving problems, frictions, and conflicting interests among alliance groups through political means, public decisions, and referendums is essential. Recent events underscore the importance of using armed struggle solely against the enemy, while resolving internal conflicts among allied and pro-democracy forces through democratic methods rather than armed confrontation.

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