Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the International Court of Justice on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, to defend Myanmar against accusations it has committed genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority population. File Photo Courtesy: ICJ
Myanmar is a good example of what not to do when managing a state. The military takeover was coming given the way the situation was shaping up and the scenario is all one big mess now. It’s no longer Suu-Kyi’s game to play and the army is wishing that it didn’t have such risky sports ambitions either. Both are now caught as small cogs in a tournament where they are at best proxies and the worst victims of both old wars within and a new cold war. The West is challenging China and Myanmar is a hapless battleground for the moment as Myanmar is nowhere near to solving its own internal ethnic war driven state.
Politics of who’s who
Myanmar’s internal politics does matter but it has been in the doldrums for so long that it carries little value. Its only significant achievement as far as political success is concerned relates to the expulsion of the Rohingyas which everyone cheered. The elections were hardly a triumph as it has only triggered a situation which has made Myanmar’s long term failure as an attempt to construct a state even more absurd.
That Myanmar was going to be in this mess couldn’t be predicted when they were throwing the Rohingyas out. The reasons are never clear as to why this was needed as the Rohingyas neither consumed much national resources nor were a threat to anyone’s supremacy aspiration. They had simply served as a scapegoat for everyone. Suu Kyi, increasingly feeling the heat to be more “Myanmar” assented to the desire of the army to throw them out and gain some much needed popularity.
When the ICJ trial issue came up Suu kyi tried to up end the army and went full throttle to demonize the trial and tried to turn the issue into one of Myanmar people’s supremacy question. It was very patriotic which in that land means Bamar/Burman supremacy. That led to her electoral victory but what she or others expected was that the army takeover would happen so quickly. The army had no intention of giving her a second chance and with their civilian party doing so poorly, there was no reason to give her a round two.
One after another, the dominos had fallen and once all had, only the final pusher, the army remained. Suu Kyi was gone in a night and with it the stability that could make it an attractive investment destination for many including the West. That the world is run according to convenience and not political morality of any kind should have been obvious from the past.
Does Myanmar justify being called a state?
Currently, global media including Bangladesh are busy deifying the protestors in Myanmar against the military takeover. To the world, thanks to the media campaign they are heroes who are resisting military rule. Yet this is the same crowd which took to the streets to protest aid to the Rohingyas.
“Hundreds of Buddhists in Myanmar have tried to block a shipment of aid to Muslims in Rakhine state, where the United Nations has accused the military of ethnic cleansing. Several hundred people tried to stop a boat being loaded with 50 tonnes of aid. Some protestors carried sticks and metal bars and threw petrol bombs. A witness said protesters threw petrol bombs before police dispersed them by firing into the air. The shipment, being organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was bound for the north of the state where insurgent attacks on August 25 sparked a military backlash. The violence has sent more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh but many remain in Myanmar, hiding in fear of being caught up in more violence without food and other supplies, aid workers believe. The protest was a testament to rising communal animosity that threatens to complicate the delivery of vital supplies. The violence and the exodus of refugees has brought international condemnation and raised questions about the commitment of Government leader Aung San Suu Kyi to human rights, and prospects for Myanmar.” (abc.net.au. 21/9/ 2017)
Trying to establish the fight as a form of struggle for democracy is inaccurate. It’s largely an internal conflict of a state where ethnic question has been the key to power balancing and managing. As long as the Rohingyas were inside the land, Suu Kyi had a chance of surviving but with no Rohingyas to scapegoat and use as a shield of hate, Suu Kyi became the target. The insurance based on hate was gone.
There are few if any conventional participatory states in the world. What went around in the name of “democracy” was basically the formula for Western domination. It was sourced in the politics of the cold war but the collapse of the Soviet Union showed that states survive if its economics works not the other way around. And in that battle, China is gaining while the West is declining.
Myanmar’s problems bigger than elections
In Myanmar, the funding of the protestors is drawing increasing suspicions. No one can afford to be on strike for long in a lower end economy. Civil or military rule has no better economics to offer in either space. For a hostile racist people and supporters of genocide, so much for the sake of “democracy’ is worthy of questions. But certain facts are obvious. Longer the battle of attrition continues, lesser are the chance of any independent decision making on either side.
In such a situation, the army rule is set to continue with a weakened army which will make everyone happy but China the most as it was speculated that it was not being listened to by the army anymore.
However, the obvious targeting of China is clear. That its stake in a country it has helped to rule is stronger than all others is beyond doubt. Meanwhile Russia has also moved in.
China is the biggest supporter of the ethnic armies now in Myanmar fighting the central army which it also supports. While it won’t tolerate yaba inside, it’s a Chinese supported “state” that profits from the 75 billion dollar yaba economy. These states with their independent armies have no intention to rejoin Naypyitaw and that’s why Myanmar has been short sized to what the army controls.
Myanmar’s worry about who rules is not the biggest issue but how it can disintegrate even more. The prospect of endless war and strife threatens it and as long as they remain the army is not going to depart. Everyone in Myanmar believes that ethnic conflict can be solved through military violence or ethnic cleansing of the more vulnerable. There is no reason to think that this attitude will change and no reason either that Myanmar will be a better place to govern soon.
(This article was first published on dhakacourier.com.bd)