To President Thein Sein: Time to stop holding the military’s hands

Last week a strange thing happened in Burma-Sorry-Myanmar, after jet fighters, bombers and helicopter gunships strafed the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) lines.

While the government went on to protect the attackers by saying the air force was merely using its planes “to deliver food supplies to its troops and local people and to provide security for the workers who are repairing roads and bridges damaged by the KIA attacks,” the military’s own mouthpiece Myawaddy website reported that a key KIA base had been seized on 30 December “with the help of air strikes in the region.”

The military’s candor, in contrast to the government efforts to sugar-coat things, has naturally raised eye brows among Burma-Sorry-Myanmar watchers outside the country.

However, any doubter can ask the people in the Shan State’s countryside and the eyebrows that they raise are not going to be not at the military but at the inquirer. SHAN has already heard sources from all three parts of Shan State saying when they asked military officers combing the hills and forests looking for the Shan State Army (SSA) fighters: Why are you still fighting against them, when they have already signed ceasefire agreements with the government?,” they all answered, “The government’s doing its job, and we’re doing ours.”

Which simply means the military will go on fighting the rebels until they are defeated (or vice versa), whatever the government decides to do.

Last week, the commander in Homong, opposite Maehongson, informed the SSA it would be repairing an old road going up to the Salween in the north. Its troops then turned south to seize an SSA base on the border. The result was of course a shootout between the two, which left the attackers with a bloody nose.

The commander in Homong can be blamed only for underestimating the SSA, but he was only following the standing order: Ceasefire or not, “area clearing” and “area control” of the whole country must go on.

When it comes to underestimation, it isn’t only the SSA that the Tatmadaw has done it. It also includes the KIA. A commander of the People’s Militia Force (PMF), run by the Burma Army, told SHAN two years earlier that between the Wa and the Kachins, the Burma Army’s assessment was:

“The Wa are hard to conquer, but easy to rule while the Kachins are easy to conquer, but hard to rule.”

Whatever the case, it appears to be one of the reasons why the Tatmadaw had chosen the KIA, and not the United Wa State Army (UWSA) to fight in June 2011.
The question thus arises for President Thein Sein: Is it worth saving the generals when they don’t want to be saved?

Maybe it’s time, like Kyanzittha who went to rescue Nga Raman Kan who was being held prisoner by the enemy but then had to throw him off his back when Nga Raman Kan yelled he was being rescued, the President should let the generals stew in their own juice for the sake of all those concerned.


Allwebsitetools © 2014 Shan Herald Agency for News All Rights Reserved