Night Watch: BANGKOK – The military dictatorship in Yangon is preparing an offensive against the many rebel groups in the country toward the end of the year when the rainy season ends in November. According to rebel armies the government’s second most powerful man, Maung Aye, is planning the offensive to combat the influence of purged Prime Minister Khin Nyunt who arranged most of the peace agreements.
A Thai border official was quoted by Reuters, “Maung Aye does not like to see ethnic groups running around with weapons, so he is turning up the heat on every single one of them, no matter if they signed ceasefires with Khin Nyunt or not. The rebels are training hard and stocking up on weapons from Cambodia for the coming dry season.” Cambodia still has a huge collection of weapons from decades of conflict over the past 40 years, a veritable warehouse of assorted weaponry and all of it for sale.
After the Prime Minister was purged the rebel groups refused to turn in their weapons and now several of them have merged for the coming war. Their are about two dozen ethnic guerrilla groups in the country but the principal ones seem to be: the Shan State Army (SSA) – a northeastern militia who, as this site reported at the time, merged with the Shan State National Army in May.
An SSA spokeswoman, Khur Hsen, based in northern Thailand said, “Khin Nyunt was more worrying than Maung Aye because he was a clever strategist, not a combatant like Maung Aye. Despite no sign of attacks in the short-term, we can’t be complacent since Maung Aye can’t be trusted either.” The two combined groups have about 5,000 men. Khur Hsen said 500 SSA volunteers are in training to confront the offensive with the government attempting to use artillery in the remote parts of the country.
Another group, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), based in Myanmar’s Kayah State, adjacent to the Thai border town of Mae Hong Son is also preparing for the dry season war, according to its dissident controlled radio station in Norway. Their spokesman Raymond Htoo told the Democratic Voice of Burma that Yangon had positioned two battalions along the state border in a repeat of the 2004 offensive. “While we are urging the junta to solve political problems by political means, the SPDC should seriously think about it. The SPDC is the dictatorship’s proclaimed name – State Peace and Development Council. Htoo concluded, “Forced surrender of arms, forced abolition of parties and arrests are very worrying for the future of Burma.”
Night Watch Information Service
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