MIXED SIG­NALS Should the re­cent at­tack on the SSPP be a ma­jor con­cern for the peace process?

Should the re­cent at­tack on the SSPP be a ma­jor con­cern for the peace process?

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Sai Wan­sai

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with a Tat­madaw del­e­ga­tion on Fe­bru­ary 25 and the mil­i­tary of­fer­ing the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) a meet­ing once a month to build trust, a four-day offensive from 7 to 10 March launched by the Tat­madaw against the SSPP at Loi

Pang Hkar came as a sur­prise. Es­pe­cially as this hap­pened dur­ing a four­month uni­lat­eral cease­fire de­clared by the Tat­madaw in De­cem­ber last year in five mil­i­tary com­mand re­gions in­clud­ing also Shan state. “When we met on Fe­bru­ary 25 with the Tat­madaw, we had an agree­ment to de-es­ca­late the con­flict in the north (of Shan state). That's why we didn’t think it (the offensive) would hap­pen. The Tat­madaw's com­bi­na­tion of north-east­ern and east­ern-cen­tral com­mands at­tack­ing us to­gether is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend,” said ma­jor

Sai Phong Han spokesman of the SSPP on March 11.

An­other armed clash be­tween the Tat­madaw and SSPP occurred on March 9 at the bor­der of Hsi­pawNam­lan area.

The Tat­madaw com­bined force of some 500 at­tacked the SSPP on the ground, while he­li­copter gun­ships were also used ac­cord­ing to SSPP sources. The SSPP also al­leged that Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State (RCSS) forces as­sisted the gov­ern­ment but RCSS de­nied the al­le­ga­tion.

The at­tack on SSPP po­si­tions at the moun­tain range of Pang Hkar re­sulted in some 500 dis­placed per­sons which are now be­ing shel­tered in two Bud­dhist monas­ter­ies in Kh­esi town­ship.

Ear­lier, due to two Shan armed groups - the RCSS and SSPP - clashes over ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute more than 2,500 peo­ple are also dis­placed in north­ern Shan state.

How­ever, a re­cent re­port by the United Na­tions Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (UNOCHA) said that more than 10,000 peo­ple in north­ern Shan state were dis­placed from early Jan­uary to 12 March due to the in­ter-eth­nic con­flict and also clashes with the Tat­madaw.

Since Fe­bru­ary armed clashes have also been on­go­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw and all of the North­ern Al­liance – Burma (NA-B) mem­bers – Ta'ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA), Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA), Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA) and the re­newed of­fen­sives on the SSPP.

The Gov­ern­ment sent let­ters to all Fed­eral Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee (FPNCC) mem­bers and Karenni Na­tional Pro­gres­sive Party (KNPP) on March 13 invit­ing them to Naypy­itaw for peace talks.

The FPNCC is made up of the NA-B and United Wa State Army (UWSA), Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (NDAA) and SSPP.

The rea­son for the offensive is un­clear although one ex­pla­na­tion could be the Tat­madaw at­tempt to ex­ert its im­por­tance and in­flu­ence in peace-mak­ing in the po­lit­i­cal arena thus, the offensive on the SSPP could be seen as soft­en­ing the en­emy be­fore ne­go­ti­a­tion and also send­ing mixed sig­nals to keep eth­nic groups off bal­ance.

In such a sit­u­a­tion, with the end of the four-month-long uni­lat­eral cease­fire an­nounce­ment fast coming to an end on April 30, the fail­ure to project a pos­i­tive re­sult is there for all to see and does not sug­gest an op­ti­mistic con­clu­sion.

The at­tack on SSPP po­si­tions at the moun­tain range of Pang Hkar re­sulted in some 500 dis­placed per­sons which are now be­ing shel­tered in two Bud­dhist monas­ter­ies in Kh­esi town­ship.

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