Military Diplomacy

Myanmar Military Junta: Sinking Within

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5 mins read

The piercing sound of air raids, mortar shelling, and gunfire on our southern border not only violates our territorial integrity and sovereignty but also presents a gloomy image of an uncertain future for the people of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the entire region.

The sound of gunshots also serves as a metaphor for the Myanmar Junta’s struggles and failures in establishing control over its own nation. The present violence in Myanmar has all the characteristics of a civil war.

Burma (Myanmar) is already engulfed in a civil war. Organized opposition groups, credible challenges to state authority, ground presence, alternative governance infrastructure (usually), and external recognition are often necessary for civil conflicts. All those components exist in Burma. The opposition is not organized along ethnic lines. They have had success in battling the security forces and Burmese army.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy was democratically elected to power in Myanmar, but that government was overthrown last year, and the military took its place. The recent trend of increased fighting and violence in Myanmar is evidence of growing unrest against the military establishment (NDL).

Following the military takeover, a sizable pro-democracy movement emerged, which later evolved into armed resistance in response to the Junta’s violent assault on dissent, which claimed the lives of at least 2,300 civilians throughout Myanmar.

People’s Defence Force (PDF), an anti-coup resistance force, has been in charge of a widespread armed resistance campaign since the coup. The National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government in exile run by Suu Kyi’s NLD’s expelled MPs, served as the foundation for PDF.

Frequently armed only with handmade weapons and a thorough understanding of the terrain, PDF has managed to astound the military with its capabilities.

To put an end to the resistance movement, the Junta in reaction conducted indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, and arson attacks against cities and villages.

The Junta’s support among the populace has been eroded by this indiscriminate violence against the civilian population, which has brought the nation dangerously close to civil war as more civilians take up guns to oppose the military regime.

The failure of the Junta military to take control of the country is due to the lack of popular support brought on by the indiscriminate violence against the country’s population, the Myanmar military’s lack of professionalism, and corruption at every level of its military leadership and law enforcement agencies.
Ethnic Armed Forces Organizations (EAOs), also known as powerful ethnic armed organizations, have formed coalitions to combat the Junta on the battlefield as a result of the Junta’s failings. There are some of them that have friendly ties to the military establishment.

In light of recent developments, the heads of Myanmar’s seven most potent ethnic armed groups, including the Arakan Army, recently met in the remote WA area bordering China to strengthen their alliance.

Some of these EAOs have actively given military training and other types of support to anti-coup resistance, even if they are not actively engaged in the campaign to topple the Junta regime in Myanmar, which is the PDF’s main goal.

The crisis in Myanmar has already served as a flashpoint for major world powers, just like every other contemporary conflict throughout the globe.

A semi-proxy battle has already developed in this conflict. China firmly supports the Burmese government. While western nations have denounced Burmese activities, supported the opposition diplomatically and helped them make their voices heard.

Myanmar has been attempting to take advantage of the west’s diversion in attention away from this region due to the conflict in Ukraine to annihilate its rivals on the battlefield.

The Junta has been looking for supporters domestically and abroad as part of its so-called “counter-terrorism” drive to combat the diplomatic isolation the west imposed on the country last year.

Last June, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution urging nations to stop arming Myanmar.

However, the call was ignored. China, Russia, and Serbia are now Burma’s top three weaponry suppliers.
Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, criticized Russia and China for continuing to supply the Junta with weapons despite “proof of the horrific crimes being committed with impunity” since launching a coup last year in his report released in February. However, Russia is still selling the Junta military equipment, and as part of a 2018 contract, it will soon send brand-new Sukhoi SU-30SM jet fighters.

Due to an uptick in violence, conditions in Myanmar have recently gotten worse for a great number of innocent people.

This brutal crackdown has unleashed a major refugee crisis forcing tens of thousands of people from almost every region to flee the country.

Since the coup, at least 1.3 million people have been forcibly evacuated in an effort to flee military attacks, he claimed, adding that the effects of this refugee flow would be felt throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

The largest increase in the number of refugees arrived in the Indian state of Mizoram. Since the military overthrew the government in 2021, about 30,000 people from Myanmar have sought refuge in Mizoram, according to Hindustan Times.

Bangladesh is also seeing a small influx of refugees despite intensive monitoring and surveillance in border regions. A minimum of 10-15 Rohingyas have sought refuge in the Kutupalong and Balukhali shelter camps in Cox’s Bazar since September 10 as a result of the resumption of hostilities between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army in Rakhine.

The “spectre of violence” in Myanmar has started to compellASEAN members to take action against Myanmar. This is a very significant development.

Bangladesh and Thailand have both been patient and cautious in their response (to airspace violation and artillery shelling), but if conflict persists and such violations become routine, Burmese provocations will in the future be responded to and that might create region-wide instability and chaos.

The Indo-Pacific region’s stability is threatened by the recent flare-up of fighting in Myanmar, which has alarmed neighbouring nations. The continuous insecurity and instability in Rakhine state have produced a spillover impact across the region.

Everyone worries that terrorist groups like IS and al-Qaeda may exploit the deteriorating situation in Rakhine state if the situation there is not adequately addressed. The world must emphasize the necessity of taking action on a global scale to address the security risk brought on by the unrest in Myanmar.
Bangladesh and Myanmar share a turbulent, almost 300-kilometer border, which has the potential to have negative repercussions on both countries.

For more than a month, tensions have been rising between Dhaka and Naypyidaw. On the Bangladesh side of the border, numerous instances of Myanmar’s brutal army airspace violations, deadly shelling, and gunfire have been documented.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar’s Ambassador in Dhaka, Aung Kyaw Moe, to express opposition to the provocation following a recent incidence of mortar fire in Bangladesh that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old Rohingya boy in the no-land man’s near Bandarban.

Bangladesh must support the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Gambia, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and other international organizations leading the efforts to hold the Myanmar military accountable for their actions against the Rohingya people in order to ensure the sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. Bangladesh needs to take the right actions to raise the Rohingya people’s voices and their grievances to the world community. Regional countries’ targets should be strict against the brutal Myanmar military. The world including regional countries must realize that the Rohingya issue is likely to remain stuck until the Myanmar junta is kicked out of power – and this could take a long time.

Bangladesh: Military Diplomacy

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4 mins read

As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centrepiece of all geo-strategic play. So, Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year’s 46th Seminar, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest conference for land forces in the region and one of the preeminent army engagements that provide a platform for the senior military leadership of Indo-Pacific regional ground forces to exchange views and opinions on peace and stability.

This year’s conference brought together senior officers of the military forces of 24 countries. Under the theme of “Possibilities and Challenges for Maintaining Peace and Security in the Indo-Pacific Region,” the main focus of the event was “robust peacekeeping,” “women empowerment,” and “land power in regional cooperation.” Apart from these, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, leadership development, countering transnational crime, and empowering women were being discussed.
Significance of Military diplomacy

Bangladesh has historically been part of ancient Indo-Pacific connectivity. It is indeed in Bangladesh’s interest to advocate and work for an open, resilient and interconnected Indo-Pacific. In a broader sense, its own continuing sustainability as an independent, sovereign, prosperous nation-state depends on this idea. With close to 40 nations comprising its make-up, the Indo-Pacific region covers more than half of the earth’s surface, home to 60% of the world’s population producing 60% of global GDP, contributing two-thirds of current global growth. By 2030, the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy will live in the Indo-Pacific. 7 of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the region where border disputes and sovereignty concerns are headline events. Therefore, maintaining peace and security across the region is central to global progress.

However, the conference brings army senior leaders together to discuss differences, establish trust, mitigate miscalculations, resolve challenges, and find commonality among multinational-professional soldiers.There are issues that cannot be solved in isolation by just one or two countries. This platform allows military leaders in the region to get together, share their ideas, and find a collective solution to a pressing and immediate problems. The relationships developed throughout the seminar and through Army-to-Army engagements would help to identify issues of common interest for arriving at pragmatic multi-lateral solutions, and dealing with the escalating threats.

It is imperative to build trust at the strategic level. So, the armies need to work together with the public sector in policy-making and lay out a development foundation that links economic and social development with the protection of the environment and natural resources. The IPAMS promotes network building among military chiefs at all levels to join forces in coping with the world’s various changes and challenges for sustainable advancement of the region. The forums provide a unique opportunity to advance understanding of key issues while showing respect for each other’s role in promoting security and stability. It would build interpersonal relations, mutual trust, and confidence among the ground forces in the region, which would reduce tensions. “The IPAMS can create a sense of friendship and warmth so that peace and stability prevail in the region,” PM Sheikh Hasina said while addressing the opening ceremony of the seminar.

The meetings are yet another symbol of the close cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States. It also paved the way for stronger cooperation between the armies of the two countries. Charles A. Flynn, commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, assured that the United States will cooperate with Bangladesh and other Indo-pacific countries to ensure the security of this important region. Again, the Bangladesh Army Chief expressed hope that working together will give the Bangladesh army a lot of scopes to learn as the US Army is one of the best in the world and very developed.

While the militaries of the participating countries discussed disaster management, transnational crime, security issues, and women’s empowerment, the issue of Rohingya refugees who have fled from violence in Myanmar is not overlooked. It is undeniable that since the Rohingya crisis erupted in the Indo-Pacific region’s heartland, it has all the potential to directly threaten the peace and stability in the region.

Because of the prolonged stay of more than 1 million Rohingya refugees in crowded camps, the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability in the region will be seriously affected. A delegation of top military officials from 24 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, and Vietnam, visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where Rohingyas expressed their desire to go back to their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State and not to any third country. The members of the group witnessed the plight of the Rohingyas firsthand and developed a “clear perception” of the gravity of the refugee crisis and the need for their repatriation to Myanmar.
Organizing such an international military conference is a great achievement for Bangladesh Army.

Noteworthy, The Bangladesh military’s positive and active role has earned the nation an international reputation with political and diplomatic mileage. The Armed Forces of Bangladesh have glorified the country on the global stage through their brilliant participation in UN peacekeeping missions. As the UN peacekeeping operations have been evolving continuously, Bangladesh has regularly been carrying out the performance appraisal of its peacekeepers and taking measures to cope with future challenges.

Despite being a late entrant (in 1988) as a troop contributor, Bangladesh has emerged as a credible UN partner over the last three decades. Since 1988, Bangladesh has participated in 54 peacekeeping missions in 40 different countries across 5 continents with more than 175,000 uniformed personnel, including over 1,800 female peacekeepers. Currently, there are over 7,000 troops and police deployed in 10 missions (as per data from the Armed Forces Division). Praising the Bangladesh Army, US Army General Charles A. Flynn said: “The Bangladesh Army is known for its leadership globally because of its contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Its peacekeeping campus and training center are not just known within the region, they are known internationally. There are many, many things that the US Army and so many other armies can learn from the experiences of the Bangladeshi Army in their international and global commitment to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and peacekeeping operations. “This acknowledgement has once again proved that our armed forces are a vital factor in upholding global peace and are able to keep our country safe from the subversive activities of internal and external enemies.

Last but not least, this conference is a critical opportunity to connect with the world’s military leaders to foster alliance partnerships and cooperative relationships. It is expected that dialogues like these will further strengthen ties between the Indo-Pacific countries and the Bangladesh Army and increase possibilities for mutual cooperation to cope with recent challenges in order for the region to move forward in a secure and sustainable manner.