Geopolitics

An Old War Is Rekindled On The Myanmar-Thailand Border

For the first time in 20 years, Myanmar regime fighter jets dropped bombs on territory partly controlled by the KNU, an armed group that has been fighting the central government for seven decades and bears the name of a large ethnic minority, the Karen.

MAE SAM LAEP — Seen from the Thai side of the Salouen River, the Burmese army's outpost does not look like much: on the top of a bare hilltop, several shabby bunkers, plank walls and zinc roofs are lined up. There's no living soul, apparently, except for the crowing of a rooster whose stubborn cackle intermittently reaches the other bank. A little higher up, balancing on the void stands the silhouette of a building that looks like a Buddhist pagoda. Strangely enough, a red flag is flying there. The Thai police say that it is a sign of war for their Burmese neighbors.

This isolated outpost is not just a godforsaken hole stunned by the April heat, locked in the torpor of a foggy afternoon awaiting the monsoon rains. It is instead a military barracks of the Tatmadaw (official armed forces of Myanmar), the same forces whose soldiers have in just two months massacred more than half a thousand demonstrators opposing the Feb. 1 military coup.

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Coup de Greed: Myanmar Generals Are Following The Money

How can you hold on to wealth if you are no longer in power?

On February 1, did the Burmese generals declare war on their people? Are we witnessing a tragic repeat of the 1988 uprising, when the Myanmar military brutally suppressed popular protests? Why a military coup, and why now — Wasn't the army still effectively in power? And why did the generals decide to follow Donald Trump's lead and belatedly contest the results of an election, which took place on Nov. 8, and whose outcome was definitive? The National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won a clear victory, with more than 80% of the votes.

The answer begins with the fact that Myanmar's generals were motivated by a mixture of humiliation and fear. Their defeat was simply too absolute. They feared the results at the ballot box would push Suu Kyi's party to upset the delicate balance of power between the civilian government and the military leaders. Above all, they feared a possible constitutional reform that would take away the military's privileges, which allow them to monopolize a large proportion of the country's wealth.

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Inside China's Quiet Flex On Myanmar Coup

The coup? What coup? China remains extremely cautious about upsetting its delicate relationship with Myanmar, given the important economic and strategic elements at stake.

China, with its propensity to cover up the truth, has reacted with surreal moderation to the coup d"état perpetrated on Feb. 1 by the Myanmar army. Global Times, the English-language daily paper of the Chinese Communist Party, simply described it as "a major ministerial reshuffle."

Earlier, immediately after the coup, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic of China, Wang Wenbin, issued a more terse but significant diplomatic statement: "All concerned parties in Myanmar should settle their differences' in order to "maintain social and political stability."

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Photo of the Week: This Happened In Myanmar

On February 1, Myanmar's military seized power and declared a year-long state of emergency, with commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing taking charge. The coup d'etat follows the national election victory of the party of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which the armed forces refused to recognize.

Suu Kyi and her party allies have been placed under house arrest and charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies.Since then tens of thousands of Myanmar citizens have taken to the streets to protest against the coup, facing police forces armed with water cannons and rubber bullets.

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eyes on the U.S.
Roy Greenburgh

For Trump's Senate Trial, A Message From The Myanmar Coup

There was really just one element missing for a successful American putsch.

Rewind three months and two days. It's November 8, 2020, and the front pages of virtually every newspaper in the world announce Joe Biden's victory in the U.S. presidential election, settled after several tense days of vote-counting — and in spite of Donald Trump's continued refusal to concede defeat.

There's a straight line from those headlines to the Jan. 6 assault in Washington on the Capitol, as Trump spent the next two months spreading lies and rage in an unprecedented attempt in American history to subvert the results of a national election.

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Sources
Laure Gautherin

Watch: OneShot, Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing Began One Year Ago

Saturday marks exactly one year since the Myanmar military began to force the Rohingya out of the Rakhine state in what a top United Nations official later called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing." At least 700,000 people fled, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh, as efforts to repatriate the Muslim minority to Myanmar continue to stall.

Here is a OneShot video of one of the most dramatic images of Rohingya fleeing for their lives...

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/ZUMA

Earlier this week, Aung San Suu Kyi — a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and de facto leader of Myanmar — continued to treat the issue as a security and diplomatic issue, insisting that there was no specific ethnicity that was targeted. "We, who are living through the transition in Myanmar, view it differently than those who observe it from the outside and who will remain untouched by its outcome," she said.

Meanwhile, new stories of Rohingya being raped and killed and families being separated continue to surface. Many have called for Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked — which is highly unlikely — though recently she was stripped of Scotland's Freedom of Edinburgh award.

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LA STAMPA

From Myanmar To Sinai, Dangers Of A Single Word

Rohingya. Outside of Myanmar, it's a simple word, though not necessarily easy to pronounce. Largely unknown until recently, its utterance now unmistakably evokes persecution, humanitarian tragedy, and what the UN said was "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" at the hands of government authorities and local militias. But inside the Buddhist-majority country, it's a politically-charged term, the simple mention of which can have devastating consequences.


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Dominique Moisi

Religion And Nationalism: Is Southeast Asia Turning Into The Next Middle East?

The tragedy of the Rohingya in Myanmar should be viewed within the region-wide context of the resurgence of religious nationalism across Southeast Asia.

-Analysis-

Does Southeast Asia risk turning into the new Middle East? Will it be the next region to be dominated by the encounter of a culture of humiliation and a culture of violent rivalry between and within nations? Luckily we aren't there yet, nor is it inevitable. But the question itself underscores the significance of the new situation created by the rise of religious nationalism throughout Southeast Asia.

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Geopolitics
Sruthi Gottipati

Rohingya And The Risks Of Radicalization

-Analysis-

Looking at some of the world's intractable problems today, we often wish that governments had done things differently in the past. In the future, we may be looking back with similar regret at what's happening now with the Rohingya in Myanmar, whose plight could develop into a lasting problem for the Southeast Asian nation, and the world, if not properly addressed.

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Geopolitics
Bruno Philip

Aung San Suu Kyi, A De Gaulle Moment For Myanmar

-Analysis-

YANGON — Good luck Aung San Suu Kyi! The hardest part still lies ahead. Such a message might sound exaggerated, even inappropriate, when you think that this woman spent 15 years under house arrest, having always shown tremendous determination against the junta's generals.

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Phyu Zin Poe

Myanmar's "Giraffe Women," Embodying A Vanishing Custom

LOIKAWMyanmar"s so-called "giraffe women," famous for the traditional neck coils they wear, appear destined to disappear. Young Burmese have rejected this tradition of wearing the heavy brass rings, saying they are painful and uncomfortable. And for those who do, carrying on the custom has become less about tradition and more about earning a living from tourists.

San Bon village is one place where Burma's long-necked women call home. It's about 30 minutes by car from Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state. Residents say that at one time all the women here wore the neck coils as a symbol of their identity. But now, only five of 200 local women wear them.

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blog

Jihadi John Killed?, Beirut Bloodied, Algorithm Culture

"JIHADI JOHN" BELIEVED DEAD AFTER U.S. AIR STRIKE, ISIS STRIKES BEIRUT

ISIS terrorist Mohammed Emwazi, better known by the nickname "Jihadi John," was the target of a U.S. airstrike in the Syrian city of Raqqa and U.S. officials believe with a "high degree of certainty" that he was killed, the BBC reports. "Jihadi John," a British citizen born in Kuwait, is believed to be responsible for the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as well as British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. At least one other person is believed to have died in the airstrike.

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Ebola-Free Sierra Leone, Record Greenhouse Gases, Rolling Stone's B-day

OPPOSITION LOOKS TO WIN BIG IN MYANMAR

Photo: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA

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