DPG Policy Brief

The Deepening Crisis in Myanmar

Date: December 22, 2023

The crisis situation that has prevailed in Myanmar since the military takeover in February 2021 has been further aggravated following the so called “1027” operation launched by the “Brotherhood Alliance” on October 27, 2023. This has led to the takeover of several towns and military bases in the Northern Shan State bordering China, and a substantial suspension of border trade between Myanmar and China. This in turn has provided impetus to resistance forces fighting the military regime in other parts of the country, which have also in recent weeks registered territorial gains and captured some trading routes with other neighbours, including India.

These developments have weakened the hold of the military regime and signalled a shift in the internal power equilibrium in Myanmar.

In this brief, the author examines the evolving situation in some detail, providing also the background of the three ethnic armed groups (EAGs) comprising the “Brotherhood Alliance” and their possible aspirations. 

The author projects three possible scenarios that can unfold in the coming months: the military continuing with its present approach; the military concluding ceasefire agreements with the ethnic armed groups so that it can then focus on dealing with the resistance forces in other areas, and the military regime agreeing to enter into a dialogue with all stakeholders. He then looks at the challenges and ramifications of each of these scenarios.

While India continues to engage with the military regime, the author suggests that it may also be time for India to keep lines of communication open with some of the armed ethnic groups active close to the Indian border. He underlines the need to address the refugee influx into the states of Mizoram and Manipur in a humanitarian manner, while safeguarding national security. Converting this crisis into an opportunity for settling some of India’s own ethnic rebel issues in the north east also needs to be explored.

To read this Policy Brief Vol. VIII, Issue 31, please click: “The Deepening Crisis in Myanmar”.