05/26/2023, 12.05
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Burmese junta uses Iranian missiles and drones to suppress resistance

As of February 2021, the relationship between the generals in Myanmar and the ayatollahs on military cooperation has been strengthened. For Tehran, "new market spaces" have opened up. The three trips of a Qeshm Fars Air Boeing 747 between January and April 2022 and the arrival of a delegation linked to the Pasdaran.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - Since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, which led to the overthrow of the democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, now under arrest, relations between Tehran and Naypyidaw in the area of weapons have become increasingly closer: in particular, missiles and drones that the dictatorship uses to strike rebel groups and annihilate its own people, without sparing women, children and civilian targets such as schools.

A report in the Burmese daily The Irrawaddy reveals the links between the two countries and the 'new market spaces' that have opened up in the last two years for the ayatollahs, who do not disdain deepening ties with the generals. 

Last year, between January and April, a Boeing 747 cargo plane belonging to Qeshm Fars Air (subject to US sanctions for supplies to pro-Tehran militias active in the Syrian conflict) from Mashhad landed three times in the capital and in Yangon.

According to information, on one occasion it was carrying at least 21 boxes containing drones and engines for military vehicles. A second transport, which landed in Naypyidaw, reportedly supplied the military junta with more powerful and sophisticated Iranian-made weapons, including tele-guided missiles. 

Burmese newspaper sources also report that an Iranian delegation arrived in Myanmar on 13 January 2022, composed of people linked to the Guardians of the Revolution (Pasdaran).

These would include Gholamreza Ghasemi, a former commander and pilot who was arrested in Argentina last year on suspicion of smuggling weapons on board the 747 he was travelling on. He is also a member of the board of directors of Qeshm Fars Air, and is said to have personally piloted the aircraft that flew to Myanmar.

Similarly, ties between Myanmar and Russia have intensified considerably since the coup, with the junta purchasing fighter jets, helicopters and other military hardware from Moscow. According to a recent UN report, the Myanmar junta has imported at least billion in weapons and military equipment since February 2021, largely from Russia and China. 

Returning to the relationship between the ayatollahs and generals, in 2016-17 the Myanmar military had sent a team of military engineers to Iran to learn the techniques of refurbishing old training aircraft, also in view of Tehran's capabilities to perfect the technology.

Following Western sanctions in response to the coup and popular repression, the Burmese regime then strengthened trade with Russia, China, India, Belarus and Iran. Finally, the junta uses military hardware to fuel its air and ground campaign against resistance forces and rebel groups Karen, Kachin, Kayah and Mon and in the regions of Sagaing and Bago.

Before the military takeover, relations between Naypyidaw and Tehran were distant and sporadic, but since February 2021, positions have changed and the junta - unlike the democratic government - has increasingly relied on Iran for supplies, starting with drones and guided missiles.

This is confirmed by former Burmese pilots and military personnel who have left the army in recent years so as not to be complicit in the military's violence against the civilian population. The MD550 drone engine is manufactured by an Iranian company called Mado (Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar), which has been on the US sanctions list since October 2021.

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