Will Burma hit the Wa Army next?
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Will Burma hit the Wa Army next?

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) believes it is the next target for the Burma Army following the attacks on the Shan State Army (SSA) “North” and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in March and June respectively, the Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said today.

In March 2010, Chinese defense officials made an effort to repair the worsening relationship between the UWSA and the ruling military junta which demanded repeatedly the Wa to accept its Border Guard Force plan. Despite the fact that details are lacking, sources say China is making another attempt to convince the Burmese junta of the futility of war against the UWSA.

Two of the anti-Border Guard Force groups – United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) – were reportedly advised by China not to join in with any groups opposing the military junta. If not they would be under attacks similar to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Shan State Army (SSA) North, quoting a Sino-Burma border source, Shan Herald Agency for News reported in April.

Apart from the Burma Army, UWSA is the strongest armed force in Burma and has been cultivating friendly relations with anti-government revolutionary movements. However, it has not joined the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) formed in February.

“We have nothing against the federal principle,” one of the top members of the Central Committee of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the UWSA’s political arm, was quoted as saying.

“In fact, we wish to be a constituent state under the federal system. We are only biding our time before we can make an official announcement.”

“One other reason we are unable to join the UNFC,” the Central Committee member added, “is because China sees it as a pro-West grouping. That doesn’t mean we are not doing what we must. However one must remember that some things can be said but not done, while other things can be done but not said.”

The UWSA and its closest ally, Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), are entrenched along the Chinese border. Beside the two, the Burmese government has yet to launch an offensive against Thai-Burma border-based New Mon State Party (NMSP), one of the leading members of the UNFC.

The UNFC’s aim is to set up a Federal Union Army, which is yet to materialize. In a statement issued last February 17, the UNFC said part of its basic principles and aims are to work for a better recognition of the ethnic armed groups, for ethnic equality, rights and self-determination, and for a genuine democratic federal Union of Burma.

Chinese officials suggested that unless (UWSA) and (NDAA) get involved with the UNFC, the military junta will leave the two alone, a source said. Even if correct, it might be also a trick by the junta. The junta doesn’t have the strength to make an offensive towards several ethnic groups at the same time, observers believe.

At present, the military junta has spread out more troops along the Salween River to break off a possible relationship between the UWSA and SSA ‘North’. The SSA is active in the west of the Salween while the UWSA is in the east.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee (OMCC) has called on the 12 members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to honor its agreement to defend each other against aggressive acts of the Burmese Army, according to the Irrawaddy News.

The OMCC’s July 10 statement urges UNFC members to stick to its policy of standing firmly together and helping each other when any member is under attack.  The OMCC condemned government troops for its hostilities in Kachin and Shan states and violations of human rights. The group is an umbrella organization which has been formed by Mon people who live outside Burma.