|NLD Chairman Aung San Suu Kyi|
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi gave a number of peace speeches after she has taken political power in 2016. In one of her speeches she said, “All successive governments could only achieve ceasefire and attempt to halt armed conflicts, but they could not sustain long lasting peace. In our country, as long as we cannot make national reconciliation and build unity, it is no way long lasting peace can be achieved.”
Her government is no exception from the previous governments that failed to achieve peace with the ethnic armed revolutionary forces. Moreover, her National League for Democracy (NLD) government that won landslide in 2015 national election is distancing from ethnic political parties, especially in Rakhine State.
All the failures and misdeeds made by herself has to bear the brunt until the end of the power game set by her historical adversary of military. It is an unfamiliar trap of political mine field she steps in on Arakan conflicts without her own mastery in experiencing to deal with armed organizations. She excluded Arakan Army from the peace conference that will be held in Naypaytaw on August 19-21. She defended Rohingya genocide charges before International Court of Justice (ICJ) despite of the fact that her government is facing pressures for inability and lack of will to receive over a half million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
Now, the ball is in the military hands for who will decide to form a post election government in 2021.
Aung San Suu Kyi made a huge mistake she did not invite Arakan Army to the 4thCession of 21stCentury Panglong Conference. The Northern Alliance including Kachin Independent Army (KIA), Ta’Aung National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) will boycott the conference after AA is left behind. The alliance has an agreement of collative negotiation as a unified force.
Yet, she may not be aware of why and how she is drowned into the political trap the military strategically set up.
First of all, Arakan State is always politically and militarily vulnerable as the grasses between two giant buffalos, NLD and military. Myanmar leaderships always use Rakhine people for their own power struggle while discrediting against each other since the state is designed in communal disunity between Rakhine and Rohingya and natural resource exploitation, especially oil and gas. Now, Arakan Army is replaced in a new front of conflict. The military leaders, historical foes of Aung San Suu Kyi, have grabbed these opportunities to make her down and to control her under the leadership of military in both policy and war matters.
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) that local people and Rohingya leaders widely speculated is created by Tatmadaw in which some of its leaders were not happy with the police forces but to wipe out them because those forces were seriously cracking down on drug traffickers in Maungdaw region—border gate to deliver billions of dollar worth methamphetamine tablets to Bangladesh—attacked police outposts with poor arms in 2016 and 2017. Tatmadaw responded it excessively and killed thousands of civilians and drove out over 700,000 Rohingya populations from the country. Aung San Suu Kyi was only consult in the half way of the ‘Clearance Operation’ in 2017.
She was silence for international criticism. Of course, she had to because she was informed the operation and briefed occasionally by the military for half true, and in some cases, she was informed opposite from the ground conditions such as Rohingya burned down their own houses and fled to Bangladesh voluntarily in order to get international attentions. She herself believed in the military briefing.
At one point, Aung San Suu Kyi was asked by former UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee to overview the ground by helicopter in order to sense what exactly the atrocity was taken places. The result was she banned visa on Mrs Lee.
For her silencing, she appeared before ICJ in January to defend the state for the charges of genocide against Rogingya prosecuted by Gambia.
Inside sources disclosed to Arakan News she herself decided to appear before the court after she was consult by General Soe Win, deputy commander of Tatmadaw.
Second, Tatmadaw did not withdraw Light Infantry Division 22 and 66 after the clearance operation against Rohingya in 2017. It attacked Army Army bases in southeast of Mrauk U township known as Ram Chaung battle where at least 500 Myanmar troops were killed in the first and biggest battle with AA in 2018. Then the army attacked AA bases in O’Rama and Lo’Rama mountain ranges in Ponnalygun township in the summer. AA killed 300 Myanmar troops in the 15 days battle.
Myanmar army sent more troops and launched heavy operations against AA in Kyauktaw and Mrauk U townships, and Paletwa township in Chin State throughout 2018.
In January 2019, AA turned and attacked police outposts in Maungdaw township. DR. Nyo Tun Aung, deputy commander of AA, said in the interview with Irrawaddy News that AA had no other choices but to attack the police stations in order to shift military strategy because AA bases were heavily attacked by Tatmadaw in several townships, mainly in Paletwa township.
Then, Aung San Suu Kyi was called for the meeting by Snr Gen. Min Aung Hlaing along with several senior generals from home ministry and border and security affair ministry and informed her AA was attacking the police stations. The generals asked her to give more power to the military to officially launch offensive and counter insurgency operations in Rakhine and Chin States. She authorized the military to conduct the operation after the military had already entered into half way of the war.
“No. She did not consul and meet with us prior to the Arakan war,” said an NLD key leader whom our news keeps for confident.
Mostly, Aung San Suu Kyi decides herself whenever it comes with military for policy and war matter, according to reliable sources in Naypyataw.
Forth, former Home Minister General Kyaw Swe got trouble after the police opened fire and killed 7 peaceful protesters and wounded 12 civilians in Mrauk U in Janurary 2018. He called a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi along Rakhine State chief minister Nyi Pu and minister of border and security affair and briefed her to arrest DR Aye Maung for his political speech in order shift the attention and thwarted from criminal activities of police killing the civilians to political rivalry with Rakhine ethics.
DR Aye Maung was arrested and sentenced to 22 years in prison for high treason charges for his political speech.
The perpetrators would never be brought to justice in Mrauk U, but the 12 wounded protesters were languished in the jails.
Since then, Aung San Suu Kyi and her party NLD has lost the hearts of Rakhine people. In addition, after hundreds of civilians were killed and injured and over 200,000 villagers are displaced by the military that she phrased for hero and applauded for bravely fighting against AA.
The military is demanding more and more from her and her government.
President Win Myint allowed the military to used jet fighters and helicopters for fighting against AA.
Ministry of transport and communication has shut down internet services in northern Rakhine State and in Paletwa township in Chin State since June 2019.
The government has designated AA as unlawful and terrorist organization since March.
Now, the military urged Aung San Suu Kyi not to invite AA to the peace conference that she agreed.
All these sequences of actions are strategically set up by the military and pulling Aung San Suu Kyi into Arakan conflict.
Moreover, success of election in northern Rakhine State and Paletwa in Chin State depends on the military decision. If the military says No, based on security reason, 7 townships as Buthedaung, Kyauktaw, Maybon, Minbya, Mrauk U, Ponnaygun, and Rathedaung cannot be held the election.
Thus, credibility of Aung San Suu Kyi government is in question compared to former president Thein Sein led Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Her ability of leadership and the government under NLD are seen by the people as empty promises made in the previous election campaign. NLD has no new vision but will have to repeat the same promises in the campaign to attract more voters.
The NLD said during the election in 2015 it would achieve peace with the ethnic armed organizations and strike for democracy federal union as well as to amend 2008 constitution.
None of Aung San Suu Kyi’s promises are achieved except amending two words in the constitutions from ‘paralyzed’ to ‘disable’ and from ‘old’ to ‘elderly.’
For the 10 ceasefire ethic armed forces, they will sign some additional political documents that will carry on postelection for further negotiations without 7 non-ceasefire and powerful ethnic forces such as KIO, AA, and Wa, agreements, will have to take full responsibility of consequences and division between ethnic communities after the Panglong Conference in August.
For NLD and for certain, ethnic people are losing confident over the stall peace negotiation process, mainly after AA, KIA, MNDAA, TNLA, will not attend in the last conference before the election in November. On the other hand, ethnic people will not vote for NLD, especially in Rakhine State.
In the end of the election, the military will decide which party can form a new government based on the alliance USPD and the military build with ethnic and some Burman political parties. Thus, Aung San Suu Kyi’s status of State Counsellor is somehow a bag of nerves.
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