05/17/2022, 18.13
MYANMAR
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Myanmar’s National Unity Government and the Arakan Army hold talks

The parties met via video conference yesterday. For experts, if Rakhine State becomes another battleground, the situation on the ground for the popular resistance could be reversed. Hitherto, the Arakan have not yet joined the fight against Myanmar’s military junta.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) held talks for the first time with the Arakan Army (AA), the main armed group in Rakhine State.

In a statement, the NUG announced that its foreign minister, Zin Mar Aung, and Min Ko Naing, head of its Alliance Relations Committee, held a two-hour meeting via video conference with United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA General Tun Myat Naing, and his deputy, Brigadier General Nyo Tun Aung, to discuss "the current political situation in Myanmar".

At present, the Arakan Army has not yet released any statement.

Following last year’s military coup, the civil disobedience movement that emerged did not develop in Rakhine state.

Beginning 15 months, Myanmar’s ruling military junta used an iron fist against peaceful protests, sparking a civil conflict that has raged in the country ever since; however, the AA has stayed out of the fighting. However, its troops reportedly fired at a helicopter in Paletwa township.

In recent weeks, Myanmar’s military has tried to hold talks with the country’s armed ethnic groups.

In the ongoing civil war, Myanmar’s Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) are pinned against historic ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and the NUG’s armed wing, the People's Defence Forces (PDF), set up in April last year.

The NUG was created by lawmakers from the National League of Democracy, the party of the country's former civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. In recent weeks, it has tried to build ties with EAOs by promising that Myanmar would become a federal democratic union after the overthrow of the military regime.

Leading EAOs, like the Karen National Liberation Army and the Kachin Independence Army, have established a formal alliance with the People's Defence Forces, whose members are undergoing military training with and getting support from the AA.

The latter is seeking an independent Rakhine State, and has fought against Myanmar’s military for years. It reached an informal ceasefire with the military in late 2020 and since then the Arakan have governed their state almost independently.

Only time will tell if fighting will resume between the AA and the military junta. For political analyst Ye Tun, successful talks could tip the balance in favour of Myanmar’s popular resistance.

“If renewed fighting occurs there (Rakhine State), the military will have to extend its forces even further to deal with a new battlefront,” he explained.

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