Is Burma’s Shan State close to a new warfare?
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Is Burma’s Shan State close to a new warfare?

Burma is on the brink of a new civil war due to the junta’s crooked and cunning ways of holding the recent polls. Apart from the sporadic skirmishing in Karen State along the Thai-Burma border, situation on Shan State is also a serious setback putting up a national reconciliation.

Just a few day ago, a new round of gunfire between a Burma-Army platoon under the control of Shan State South’s Mongnawng-based Military Operations Command (MOC) 2 and troop from First Brigade of Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ that refused Burma’s junta’s order to disarm broke out on Saturday, 18 December, referring local sources Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.

The fight took place at the same location where the first clash of the two sides had taken place on 11 November, Kunkieng-Wan Lwe, 3 miles west of Wan Hsaw, a village between Wanhai, the main base of the SSA North’s First Brigade, and Monghsu, at 22:30 local time and lasted for 30 minutes, a local villager said. According to SSA sources, it was attacked by a 51- strong patrol from Namzang-based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 516.

The SSA has passed a directive to all of its fighters to be on full alert. Currently, the First Brigade is also reportedly holding its annual meeting at its main base, Wanhai. The SSA North and the Burma Army have fought five times since 1st September after the SSA refused to disarm, three times in September and the fourth on 11 November.

Reports of clashes between the SSA and the Burma Army have come out steadily these days. Burma Army soldiers based in Shan State East’s Mongton township on the Thai-Burma border were also ambushed by the SSA ‘South’ twice during the last weekend.

The armed clashes were happened sporadically after a new-year meeting held by three armed ethnic groups.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) better known as Mongla group and Shan State Army (SSA) North took a chance during Shan New Year celebrations in Mongla’s area. The Shan New Year festival was held from 30 November to 7 December.  Former allies of the Burma’s ruling military, UWSA , NDAA  and SSA-North had a good discussion for their future strategies, quoting an informed source Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.

The three ceasefire armed groups said that they have to express thanks to Burma Army that pressured them to transform into Border Guard Forces (BGFs). For that reason, the groups have wake up declining BGF plan in order to avoid Burmese junta’s oppressive strategies.  The UWSA, the NDAA, and the Shan State Army-North are along with the other armed ethnic groups which are defying the military regime’s demands on them to join its Border Guard Force (BGF).

During their recent informal meetings at Mongla, where the NDAA Headquarters is located, they have taken into consideration about the BGF that will make fragile them evermore. Actually, the BGF program intended to win over the ceasefire groups through laying down their arms.

According to one discussant, the junta is trying to “paint us with drugs” to cut off the groups from the international community. The junta might put the issue of the groups in the parliamentary agenda so as to approve them as unlawful organizations. The meeting was held in Mai Hoong Hsarm Ton (Three Banyan Trees) of Mongla and was presided over by Sai Hseng La, the new General Secretary of NDAA, Shan Herald Agency for News said.

According to Sai Hseng La, the Shan New Year party this year aims to introduce the people, especially the new generation, with a sense of tradition, to promote unity and friendship among the allies, and to defend against all oppressions in unity.

The Shans, as former rulers of Shan State and being the majority, should assume a major role, a participant in the new-year meeting said. The first and foremost thing is to reach an agreement between the SSA-North and the (non-ceasefire) SSA-South. “The rest of us can then follow suit,” he said.

In the meantime, the Shan State Army (SSA) South of Lt-Gen Yawd Serk was also reportedly holding meetings with representatives from the Six-State Military Alliance formed since 2002. The alliance has been composed of SSA-South, Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), China National Front (CNF) and Arakan Liberation Party (ALP).

A demand from the ruling junta on all ceasefire groups to transform into BGF and come under the direct control of Burma army has increased restiveness in the unstable ethnic states.

Political observers frequently give a hint that the possible widespread of fighting unless the junta relieves the demands made to ceasefire groups, many of them hold only fragile peace agreement.