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Myanmar anti-coup forces retain optimism in face of air attacks | Conflict News

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Resistance to the military regime in Myanmar has been defined by optimism.

When the military first seized power on February 1, 2021, the mass peaceful protests that emerged were reminiscent of jubilant street parties. Demonstrators sang in the streets, wore ridiculous costumes and carried humorous signs.

In a country with a history of atrocities committed by its armed forces against its opponents, there was no illusion as to what would happen next. One protester said he was prepared to take 100 or 1,000 dead to see the army defeated.

Two years later, some civilians took up arms and joined forces with ethnic armed groups that had been fighting for greater autonomy for years. military forces are increasingly using air power and heavy weapons against weakly armed adversaries.

Several Estimate With more than 20,000 deaths, including civilians and combatants, in 2022, second only to Ukraine, those determined to remove the general from power remain hopeful.

“Some of our comrades died in combat, but giving up now is not an option,” said the Thai border.

“If the current momentum can be maintained, a breakthrough will occur in 2023.”

new analysis (PDFTownship percentage from July to December 2022, announced by Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar on the eve of the coup anniversary.

This suggests that the regime is no closer to consolidating its grip on the country, but it does not appear to be on the brink of collapse.

“A new equilibrium has emerged. Significant progress must be made on both sides to change the current stalemate,” said the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security, which has years of experience in the conflict in Myanmar. Executive Director Minh Zaw Oo said.

“The situation will remain the same for the whole of 2022,” he said, adding that the military was unable to return most theaters to “the status quo before the coup” and the resistance was unable to “secure strategic areas.” added.

Ruins of a village school destroyed in a military air raid on Mutrow district in Karen state earlier this month. [File: Free Burma Rangers via AP Photo]

Anti-coup forces have attempted to take control of several key city centers. Moebai Kawkareek and Kyungdaw in Karen State, southern Shan State. However, while they are often successful in driving out troops, the military’s increased use of ranged artillery and air power makes it difficult for them to maintain the territory they have acquired.

“Airstrikes have a big impact on this … We want to control cities and urban areas, but without air defense it is very difficult. It is difficult to ‘democratic resistance’, popularly known as the People’s Defense Forces (PDF).

Min Zaw Oo also said the success rate of attacks on “military fortified positions” is around 40-45%, but resistance groups are often unable to hold and defend seized bases and outposts. pointed out. Instead, they often choose to destroy them, as the recent outpost burning in Bawrake Township, Kayah State shows.

“The nature of the opposition strikes remains guerrilla attacks,” said Minh Zaw Oo.

Some conflict analysts have argued that the rebels should continue to undermine the regime with guerrilla attacks rather than trying to seize territory.Anthony, a security analyst with the publication Jane’s Defense Davis warned In November, he opposed “an attempt to transition prematurely from guerrilla tactics to semi-conventional operations.”

change the balance

Min Zaw Oo said there were four “obstacles” for the resistance to overcome. Among them are better access to weapons (he estimates that only 10% of Resistance fighters have automatic weapons), securing support for stronger ethnic armed groups, and Includes improvements to the chain of command. .

It also needs support from neighboring countries such as China and Thailand.

“Without overcoming these obstacles, the opposition cannot shift in its favor,” he said.

Some major ethnic armed groups such as the KNU, Chin National Front (CNF), Karenni Army and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) support the pro-democracy movement, but others are more cautious.

The United Wa State Army, the country’s most powerful non-state armed group, is instead using the military’s weakened position to demand more formal recognition of the territories it controls. In the changer Two other influential groups It shows increasing signs of cooperation with rebels.

Albert said the 2022 KNDF has seen improvements compared to the previous year. This includes establishing a chain of command, improving access to modern weaponry, and more specialized military training.

But he also says there were setbacks, such as losing the element of early surprise when the regime was caught off guard by a widespread armed uprising against its rule.

“In the past, the junta underestimated us … now they are well prepared. They have many mines around their bases. It will take several weeks,” he said.

“And in 30 to 45 minutes… military planes are coming, and we must attack and withdraw immediately.”

In recent months, the military has escalated its airstrikes, moving away from its usual policy of using airstrikes primarily to support ground forces or to terrorize civilian communities believed to be supporting resistance fighters. it changed.

It now bombs high-level targets more regularly in the absence of ground combat, such as the KIO event in November, CNF Headquarters in early January, and PDF Base in late January.

Armed opposition groups and human rights activists have repeatedly called on the international community to declare a no-fly zone or ban aviation fuel supplies to Myanmar. An Amnesty International investigation last year found that even fuel sent to Myanmar for ostensible commercial purposes was accessed by the military.

Even in the face of this powerful onslaught, the resistance’s optimism is clear.

Myo Thura Ko Ko, spokesperson for the Mixed Command Cobra column, which runs under the leadership of the KNU and PDF, said, “I hoped the military would one day use airstrikes on us. I see the increasing reliance on air strikes as evidence that the regime is retreating.

“Military forces use airstrikes when they are losing on the battlefield or when morale is low,” he added.

Myanmar soldiers in uniform and armed march during a ceremony to mark Myanmar's 75th day of independence.
Over the past year, the military has increasingly turned to airstrikes [File: Aung Shine Oo/AP Photo]

CNF spokesperson Htet Ni agrees.

“Even if the worst happens, we must continue the revolution. said.

Htet Ni said increased reliance on airstrikes has only brought established ethnic armed groups closer to new PDF allies.

“It has created more unity among us … we will never back down. It is our chance to overthrow the army, so we will fight the people.”

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