Analytical Approach of War on Arakan and Phenomenon of Hefty Militarization

Two jet fighter flying near Ramming bridge above the Laymyo river and fired missiles on May 7, 2020

Sittway. May 8, 2020

Overview

It is not in Afghanistan nor Syria; it is in Arakan in western Myanmar where two Russia made supersonic jet fighters flew over just above the heads of local fishermen and fired the missiles into the mountains and near the highway. It was lucky the missiles did not hit the fishing cannoe. 

Military aggression has been easing in Middle East and Afghanistan after Covid-19 pandemic threating every region and every one. But government and army spokespersons in Naypaytaw are very proud of briefing the press and accusing Arakan Army was shooting WHO and WFP vehicles.

It is how it goes on to behavior of warmongers and aggressive people. Very unfortunate, Burma, now Myanmar, was not enforced to sign armistice treaty with disarmament provision with American led alliance before the independence. This nation should be considered the most aggressive as Asia Axis after North Korea. In the future, civilized and peace loving nations should keep in mind Myanmar needs to sign a disarmament treaty. 

At the present time, a Sittway based military analyst who remains confidential for his personal security, foresees Myanmar army’s dry season offensive operation supported by airstrikes, navy, and artillery firepower are gradually easing in Rakhine State. His own analysis is somehow interesting. 

Glancing on Operation Theatre 

According to the analyst, Tatmadaw is reducing its ground troops from attacking on AA positions and bases in thick jungles and high mountains in the eve of stormy monsoon weather but moving back the forces to the bases while focusing in villages and towns to search, arrest, and interrogate suspects of AA supporters. 

“The army is prioritizing to reposition its troops of 15,000 to defense the bases and newly set up artillery bases in the frontlines in northern Rakhine and southern Chin states,” He said. 

Beginning of winter and through out the summer season from November to April, Myanmar army has aggressively been launching military operations against AA, an attempt to defeat and contain AA fighters advancing to the south, penetrating into villages and towns, and cut off supply lines and connection with rural populations. 

“The war Myanmar army fighting in this summer is first to defeating AA by air and navy supports in three months period, but it later changes to secure logistic support as well as clearing military supply roads, and defending hardware and artillery installations in new bases,” the analysist said. 

Why is that? 
By looking back the heavy military presence and carrying out aggressive operations by moving place to place and timelines in northern theatre in Paletwa, Minbya, Kyauktaw, and Ponnaygun townships will be tangible wider scenario and more understanding on Naypaytaw strategy.

Firstly, the army attacked AA bases in Paletwas township in Chin State through December to May. Jet fighters and helicopters are consistently bombing and firing missiles to the mountains and jungles--sometime to the villages--where possible AA bases are located while ground forces attacking. 

Arakan Army cleverly repositioned and attacked the very strategic location on water transportation gateway of Miwa military base for over 45 days. Myanmar army paid heavy prices to defend the base. At one point, entire battalion and its commander were killed and captured by the AA fighters after parachuting. 

Secondly, the army at the same time attacked AA bases and positions in the deep and far north of Kaladan River in Kyauktaw township. The army faced heavy causalities near Tin Ma, Mu Than Pyin, and Mar Lar villages. Again, jet fighters and helicopters dropped bombs in the jungles and mountains. Some bombs fall into Mu Than Pyin. Later on, the army set fire Tin Ma, Mar Lar, Mu Than Pyin, and Saba Htar villages. Thousands of villagers had to take shelters in Kyauktaw. 

Thirdly, in the beginning of January while attacking in Kyauktaw and Paletwa, the army sent 4,000 reinforcement troops to Minbya township to secure Ramaung Bridge and to attack AA positions in wide range of 15 villages. Since then, the army has been consistently attacking AA positions. Jet fighters, helicopters, and navy are backing up the ground forces. 

While AA were busy defending its positions near Ramaung bridge, it turned back and assaulted the military training school in Minbya township in March to change they army from offensive position to defensive mobility. That shock up the military planer in Naypaytaw because the attack showed how weak army strategy was in leaving the base. unprotected with lesser troops.   

Ten of thousands of villagers had to run away from the villages and set up temporary IDP camps. 

The latest the army attack was on May 7, and two jet fighters fired missiles to the mountain near Ngya Sa Yin village. 

“The ground troops in Minbya are useless. The airstrikes are only deterring AA not to wipeout entire battalions. Most of the troops bringing from the mainland are incapable and inexperience as well as lack of skill commanders. Most skillful commanders are assigned in state and national parliaments,” the analyst said. 

The final push is Ponnaygun township. Three thousand soldiers are mobilized in populated village tracks such as Nat Taung, Let Wea Sar Taik, Kyauk Seik, Di Par Yon, and Ken U. These village tracks contain with 20 villages and reply on waterway transportation and some narrow roads. 

Most of the reinforcement troops were landed by navy in Kyauk Seik in first week of March. Then they were transported to Let Wea Sar Taik by roads and small boats. Then AA cut the road and attacked by landmines. 

Most troops were encircled by AA fighters in the jungles and hills near Khit Ka Toe village. Then jet fighters and helicopters bombed the hills to clear the way out when artilleries were fired from Sittway and Ponnaygun. Jet fighters were used for bombing to the mountain. The fight lasted 45 days. 

In April second week and after the shells killed 8 civiliand and wounded 14 villagers in Kyauk Seik, AA attacked the navy landing port near the village on April 17 and killed several soldiers. 

“This is the end of full scale operation in Ponnaygun township and attacking on AA bases, but the army is changing its operation to arrest villagers from every village and interrogate. That is the way they army thought they could find AA members and supporters in the village as intelligent gathering operation,” the analyst said.

AA stronghold township like Rathedaung, Maybone, and Buthedaung are left out of full scale military operations but sporadic fights, firing from navy, and jet fighters bombing sometimes.

The analysis said, “It shows the weakness of the army leaderships and insufficient troops to assemble wide range of Arakan theatre. If AA extends the fights in the south, Naypaytaw will be in big trouble.” 

Rakhine Publics Have Lost Grip on Tatmadaw 

Thousands of civilians have been killed, injured, arrested, and disappeared since the military operation began for one and half years. Nearly 200,000 people are displaced, 15 percent of the populations in the second poorest state. 
villager washing the smoke of bombs


The people are suffered by the government security forces that sparks the United Nations human rights expert calling for fresh war crimes and crime against humanity investigation into the army. 

Most villagers were killed and injured by gunshot, airstrikes, bombs, shell, gunfire, and landmines. The graphic photos, videos, testimonies of the victims, interaction among the affected communities turn the people anger toward the government soldiers and military leaders. 

“It is wrong policy and misconduct of the army that is randomly searching and arresting the villagers. Some are disappeared; some are tortured to death; and some are paralyzed permanently. All of these are crimes the community cannot bear of and want to find justice. The justice they believe can deliver is to joining AA and fight back the brutal army. Now almost all young men and women join AA. That is what happening on the ground,” The analyst said. 

Indeed, the people hate the army that is the way they lose intelligent and information gathering.

“It becomes like war in Vietnam. People don’t want to have any eye contact with and speak to the soldiers. They see them like monsters and disgraceful brutal creatures. That is how the people feel and all Rakhine now firmly determine they don’t want to associate with the Burmese as ever before,” He said. 

Military strategists in Naypaytaw have imposed ‘4-cuts’ tactics on Rakhine people in order to weaken AA advance. The strategy is to kill all, burn all, force out all, and starve all.

“That does not work either. It is not 1970s. This is digital information age. The world is more connected. Myanmar government is defending genocide law suit at the ICJ. They will face additional war crimes at ICC if they keep doing and killing more civilians and destroy community,” the analyst said. 

The Strength and Weakness of AA and Tatmadaw 

“The grounds troops of AA are constituted with very brave and active young men. They hold firm determination and willing to sacrifices. They all are volunteers. They join AA by their own consent. They are mobile. They can regroup quickly and separate suddenly. They have no permanent base. They don’t need a lot of ration and equipment to carry. Only their guns and packs of dry rice they can fight anywhere,” he said. 

He said, “From top to down, all soldiers are spoiled. They get these high ranking positions by clearing their way by paying to their highest bosses in mid 1995s when all battalions were ordered to invest at least 10,000 US dollars equivalence that was to counter US and EU economic sanctions. Then these generals enjoy luxury life style and more like businessmen. They don’t know how to fight guerrilla wars. The private soldiers are the worse. They don’t have will to fight. Some are very aging. Some soldiers even bring their wives to the temporary bases for cooking foods and guarding the bases. Some military and police prisoners are taken out of the jails as well as retirees and then brought to the front lines in Rakhine. When they confront with AA fighters, they loss 95 percent of times. Thus, they don’t look for AA to fight as they did in 2018. They are staying at the villages most of the times and only conduct quick petrol.”

But on some occasions, the battalions are called to attack AA bases when airstrikes are carrying out in Paletwa, Minbya, and Buthedaung townships. 

 AA has many weaknesses as well. And his own observations are somehow considerable.  

“AA does not have antiaircraft missiles, navy destroyers, and heavy artilleries. They cannot seize military bases and towns. They cannot occupy and control wider lands and townships. They are still in harassing position against the Tatmadaw. But in the long run, the army will suffer the most,” he said. 

Condition of IDPs and Future Political Perspective

“Now, there are almost 200,000 IDPs, 25 percent of populations in 1,200,000 in Rakhine state, and people remaining out of the IDP camps are less productive and aging people. The refugees will be increased to 500,000 or a half million. At least 3,000 civilians will be killed in next a few more years of war. That will be the heaviest price Araknese paid in modern world,” The analyst said. 

“People will feed the IDPs by taking out some portions from their meals. That is how Rakhine people generosity are, share and care of each other….strong attachment. But malnutrition, child motilities, poor or almost educations for the children in camps will be impacted so mush,” he said.
  
He said, “The army may not stop fighting in Rakhine because of this is what the generals are defending for insinuating turn over to their prestige and pride. But after election in 2020 and if new government pay more attention on peace, it may be something hopeful. But most often times since U Nu and Ne Win times as well as U Thein Sein, peace talks were something seasonal or political trading events to maintain their status quo.”

He said, “Election is Rakhine State is important test for democracy transition. If the government is unable to hold the election because of rebellious, it is fatal failure. No doubt, Rakhine national parties will win in election if there is one. NLD nor USDP will even loss the seats in their stronghold townships such as Tungok, Thandwe, Gwa, and Ann. Thus, NLD leaders may not want the election because they will not win. Of course, army may want to make the state as militarized zone so that they can hold their last outpost of military power. and status.” 

“Arakan National Party is key to have election. As AA said one needs to talk to AA in order to hold the election. But the central government or election commission has to talk to ANP and relax a bit from designation of AA as terrorist organization that bars people to talk to AA. ANP can talk to AA to hold temporary ceasefire in election days if army agrees to halt the attacks,” he said. 

Conclusion

Arakan Army and Tatmadaw will continue fighting in the raining season, but airstrikes will be limited. Villagers will keep running out of the villages and increasing IDPs due to the army searching and arresting. 

Farmer will meet with constant restrictions during the seasonal paddy cropping. Village to village and township to township inter trade will be blocked in northern Arakan. Some villager will face shortage of foods and starvations. 

The tension between the army and the people will remain high while Tatmadaw is waiting for dry season to relaunch aggressive operations but will remain search and arrest more villagers.

As Rakhine proverb says, ‘Rebels rise high with monsoon tidy when royal soldier’ boot-shoes are stuck with the muddy water,’ AA will ambush and attack the Tamadaw transportation, supply lines, and troops mobilizations.

In the end, all sides play cat and mouse war games in this monsoon. 
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Passenger speedboat are crossing Lay Myo river when the jet fighters and firing missiles to the mountain in Mibya on
May 7, 2020

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