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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 24-Jun-2021
24-Jun-21 World View -- Myanmar/Burma army fights new militia in Mandalay as civil war spreads

Web Log - June, 2021

24-Jun-21 World View -- Myanmar/Burma army fights new militia in Mandalay as civil war spreads

China's strategic interest in Myanmar / Burma

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Myanmar/Burma army fights new militia in Mandalay as civil war spreads

Map of Myanmar / Burma, showing verious ethnic groups and militias (EAGs) (Economist)
Map of Myanmar / Burma, showing verious ethnic groups and militias (EAGs) (Economist)

A significant new escalation in the civil war in Myanmar / Burma occurred on Tuesday as the junta regime's armed forces clashed with the Mandalay People’s Defence Force (Mandalay PDF), a newly formed anti-junta militia in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city.

Since the February 1 army coup that installed the junta dictatorship, junta forces have been clashing with militias for months in rural areas. What's different this time is that the new militia is that the clash is occurring in a large urban center, Mandalay. As the civil war progresses, this could lead to large-scale carnage among the huge, dense population of Mandalay. According to the junta, troops killed four people and arrested eight others.

The United Nations is warning that unless something is done, Myanmar will accelerate to a civil war of "unprecedented scale." Well, of course, there are many civil wars of "unprecedented scale" all the time, including Burma's last generational crisis civil war (1948-58), so let's ignore the UN hyperbole.

Nothing will be done because the United Nations has become completely toothless. Any resolution in the Security Council is a joke, vetoed by Russia and China. There was a non-binding resolution passed last week by the UN General Assembly. It had been debated for three months and was supposed to call for an arms embargo, but it only passed after the arms embargo stuff was deleted, so the resolution says exactly nothing.

The Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Myanmar's gemstone industry, which funds the army's violent actions, as well as a number of individuals in the junta's government. These sanctions will do no good, but it's interesting to mention them because it shows, once again, that the US is policeman of the world, and can actually take action while the UN can only pass toothless resolutions.

The 2021 coup vs the violent 2007 and 1988 demonstrations

As I've described starting with the massive demonstrations in 2007 by the "'88 Generation," Burma's last two generational crisis wars (1886-91 and 1948-58) were extremely bloody and violent civil wars involving multiple ethnic groups. (See "Burma: Growing demonstrations by the '88 Generation' raise fears of new slaughter")

As expected, the demonstrations in 2007 fizzled out, because Myanmar/Burma was a generational Unraveling era, when the last aging survivors of the preceding crisis war exert all their political power to prevent a new crisis war.

But starting in 2016, 58 years after the end of the last crisis war, the survivors were almost all gone (dead or retired), and the people in power were in younger generations, with no sense of history.

Starting in 2011, Buddhists began attacking Muslim Rohingyas in villages across Burma, particularly the 1.1 million ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine State. Mobs of Buddhists attacked Muslims, conducting atrocities including torture and rape, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to leave their homes to flee from the attacks. In some cases, the Buddhists burned down entire Rohingya villages to the ground.

However, the worst violence began after a terrorist attack on Ausgust 25, 2017. The Tatmadaw (the army) responded with a sweep of violence against Rohingyas, causing thousands of them to flee their villages and head for the Bangladesh border, where they hoped to cross and reach a refugee camp. The Burmese army shot them as they were fleeing, including women and children, killing dozens. This was the beginning of mass genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas. There are now a million Rohingyas who were forced to flee across the border into Bangladesh, where they're living in filthy refugee camps.

However, that wasn't the end of the Tatmadaw's program of mass torture, rape and slaughter. After the coup of February 1 of this year, that same army turned on its own people. The Tatmadaw has been conducting torture, rape and slaughter of the ordinary Burmans, the Burmese people. And this time it isn't fizzling the way it did in 2007. Isn't it amazing, Dear Reader, what crazy things people do during a generational Crisis era?

The rise of the Ethnic Armed Groups (EAGs)

So as Generational Dynamics has been predicting, the army and the people of Myanmar/Burma are refighting their last generational crisis war, which was a massive bloody war among ethnic groups (1948-58), with intervention by the Chinese.

But now there's a new acronym appearing in news reports: EAG, which stands for "Ethnic Armed Group." The EAGs are militias formed by different anti-junta ethnic groups in Myanmar. There are 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar, so there is the possibility of 135 different EAGs. The population of Myanmar numbers somewhere between 51 and 55 million people. Of this, around 68% are considered part of the dominant ethnic group - the Bamar (also known as the Burmans).

Here are some of the most significant EAGs:

The war in Myanmar vs the war in Syria

Many people are comparing the civil war in Myanmar against the civil war in Syria.

Here's a comparison by the analysts at Lowy in Australia:

"Like their fellow Syrian protestors, civilians in Myanmar are forming their own militias. Myanmar already had a patchwork of ethnic militias, some of which have stepped up attacks on the military, known as the Tatmadaw, ostensibly in support of the protestors. Geopolitically, the fault lines mirror the Syrian conflict, with Russia and China blocking Western-led efforts to censure the Tatmadaw at the United Nations.

Nonetheless, there are substantial differences between 2021 Myanmar and 2011–12 Syria.

Three key elements helped create the Syrian conflagration: a mass armed uprising, extensive foreign intervention on both sides and an influx of foreign fighters. None of those elements currently exist in Myanmar, and it is unclear whether they ever will – particularly the second and third."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this analysis is nonsense, and it's instructive to understand why.

Syria's last generational crisis war climaxed in February 1982 with the destruction of the town of Hama, by Hafez al-Assad. His son, Bashar al-Assad, launched an attack on peaceful protesters in 2011, during a generational Awakening/Unraveling era. During such an era, the traumatized survivors of the previous crisis war do what they can to prevent a new war. Bashar al-Assad's army suffered from poor morale and heavy desertions, and in 2015, al-Assad announced that he was going to lose the war. At that point, Russia intervened. That's why there was "extensive foreign intervention on both sides and an influx of foreign fighters." This was the result of an unpopular war during an Awakening/Unraveling era.

So when comparing the Syria war to the Myanmar war, the reason for Russian (and Iranian) intervention in the Syrian war was that al-Assad was going to be defeated. It is typical for an Awakening/Unraveling war to fizzle, just like the Myanmar rebellions in 2007 and 1988.

Myanmar has been in a generational Crisis era since 2016. There is no chance that this war will fizzle like the Syria war. It's possible that the Chinese will intervene, but that's because of the fighting along China's border.

China's strategic interest in Myanmar / Burma

Globe showing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (Switzerland's Federal Intelligence Service)
Globe showing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (Switzerland's Federal Intelligence Service)

China has for years been supplying weapons to the Tatmadaw, but has been reluctant to fully endorse the February 1 coup, because the Chinese Communists fear that the people of Myanmar will turn against the Chinese.

Myanmar is an essential element of the Chinese Communists' delusional grand plan to lead and control the world within five years. According to this plan, China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will bring peace and harmony to the entire world, and all countries will resolve their mutual differences and accede to China's leadership. The only thing that can go wrong, according to this delusiona plan, is that the US will be jealous, and will go to war with China to stop it.

The major BRI project in Myanmar is the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which is strategically essential to China's grand plan, since it provides a corridor for the transport of people and goods between China's Yunnan province and the Indian Ocean, through Myanmar's ports. This is similar to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which connects China's Xinjiang province to Pakistan's Gwardar port, which China now controls.

Both CMEC and CPEC are essential to China's delusional grand plan, since they have to counter the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, formed by the US, along with Australia, India and Japan, with the obvious goal of countering China.

So the Myanmar civil war is more than just an inconvenience to the Chinese Communists. It's a threat to their whole delusional plan for world domination. What the Chinese really want is for the war to just end and go away, but in a generational Crisis era, that's very unlikely. It's much more likely that it will re-fight the previous crisis war, the extremely bloody 1948-58 civil war that involved all of Burma's ethnic groups, and forced the Chinese to intervene to protect their border.

Russia's strategic interest in the Myanmar/Burma war

Myanmar's arms suppliers -- China, Russia, India, S. Korea, Belarus, etc. (Nikkei)
Myanmar's arms suppliers -- China, Russia, India, S. Korea, Belarus, etc. (Nikkei)

China and Russia have historically been the biggest weapons suppliers to the Tatmadaw, but they have different objectives.

Neither the Russians nor the Chinese care at all how many Myanmar civilians are tortured, raped, beaten or slaughtered. The Russians and the Chinese don't even care how many of their own people are tortured, raped, beaten or slaughtered, let alone the Myanmar people.

So the Russians are perfectly happy to fully support the coup, and continue to supply weapons to the Tatmadaw. Russia does not share a border with Myanmar, and so any genocide or mass slaughter is miles away, and easily ignored.

But as we said, the civil war is a problem for the Chinese. The war could spill over across the border into China, and the people of Myanmar could turn against China, at a time when their support is needed for the CMEC and China's grand delusional plan to run the world. Thus, it is critical for China that the Myanmar people not blame the Chinese for the ongoing violence. There have already been attacks on Chinese factories by groups claiming that the Chinese are supporting the army violence. So the Chinese will continue supplying weapons, but will keep as low a profile as possible.

For the Tatmadaw, the situation is ideal. They can play the Russians and Chinese off against each other, and get all the weapons they want for their fun program of torture, rape, beatings and slaughter.

In fact, there are eight countries that have openly expressed support for the coup and the violence: Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.

Thailand supports the coup and the slaughter

 Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Myanmar's leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. (Reuters)
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Myanmar's leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. (Reuters)

Just as China has a potential problem along the border with Myanmar, Thailand has an actual problem.

More than 20,000 villagers, mostly women and children, in Karen State (Kayin State, Kayah State) have been forced to flee from their homes into the jungle to escape the relentless airstrikes and artillery fire by the Tatmadaw. The targets are supposed to be military targets of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), but as always happens with genocidal armies, the Tatmadaw are most targeting civilians, in order to "send a message."

As food is scarce in the jungle, with stories emerging of mothers having to feed their children with insects, many villagers have fled across the border into Thailand. Thailand has set up military checkpoints along the border, and is pushing villagers back across the border into Myanmar.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha fully supports the coup and the violence by Myanmar's coup leader, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. That is because Prayuth conducted his own coup in 2014, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Thailand, and Hlaing was the first foreign leader to congratulate him. (See "23-May-14 World View -- Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites")

But there hasn't been similar violence in Thailand as is occurring in Myanmar. According to reports, Hlaing has been asking for advice from Prayuth in back-channel discussions, but so far they haven't worked.

Once again, the explanation is the difference in generational era. Thailand's last generational crisis war was the extremely violent "Killing Fields war" in the 1970s next door in Cambodia, so Thailand is in an Awakening/Unraveling era, while Myanmar is in a generational Crisis era. So Prayuth might be able to provide some interesting details, but nothing he says will help quell the Crisis era fury of the anti-junta rebels in Thailand.

Karmic justice continues

As I've written before, the situation in Myanmar/Burma reeks of Karmic justice.

Since 2011, Burma's army has been committing atrocities on Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, including gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. These atrocities have been cheered by the ordinary Myanmar people, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, most of whom apparently hate the Rohingyas.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi became a "useful idiot" for the army by presenting a sympathetic, tired, weary, female face to the world, defending the army to deflect the horrors and atrocities that are occurring in their country. In 2019, the International Court of Justice in the Hague held a trial on Burma's genocide, and Aung Sang Suu Kyi came and defended the army, saying that nothing had happened.

So now the same atrocities that the Buddhist monks cheered when used against the Muslim Rohingyas are being used against the Buddhists, and the "useful idiot" Aung Sang Suu Kyi is in jail, where she'll probably be killed when it's convenient for the Tatmadaw. That's full Karmic justice.

In the meantime, it's not just the people of Myanmar who are going to suffer. This is a highly explosive situation, and it's very likely to spread to other countries in the region, including China, Thailand and India. In the Generational Dynamics forum, we keep discussing various scenarios that could lead eventually into a world war, and this is one possibility.


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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jun-2021) Permanent Link
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