Arakan Army Ready to Combat Tatmadaw Challenge
The Arakan Army (AA) is preparing to meet the challenge from the Tatmadaw or the Myanmar Army
AA has warned private bus companies in Rakhine State not to provide transport to Myanmar Army troops with the Tatmadaw’s 22nd, 55th and 99th divisions based in lower Myanmar reportedly being moved for an offensive to the North.
AA leader Brigadier-General Tun Myat Naing has demanded confederation status for Rakhine on the same lines as the United Wa State Army.
Sithu Aung Myint writing in the Frontier has claimed that “Rakhine political parties and ethnic Rakhine lawmakers have neither objected to nor criticised the AA attacks, and appear to be supportive of the AA”. This denotes that there is considerable sympathy for the AA which has given rise to Rakhine nationalism.
The belief that the Myanmar Government led by the Army is not adhering to the Panglong Agreement – a formula for federalism that was signed by Bogyoke Aung San and Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders on February 12, 1947, which is celebrated as Union Day is the roots of the rebellion by ethnic groups as per Myint.
President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay accused the AA of having ties to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and of funding its operations from the illegal drug trade. “I want to tell AA supporters to think about whether the AA really can make Rakhine State better. Frankly speaking, please stop your support,” he said.
The AA has denied having links to ARSA. The Arakanese National Party also released a statement objecting to U Zaw Htay’s remarks.
The ARSA has also become active after lying low post 2017. In continuing violence by the ARSA, six policemen, including one police colonel, were wounded during an ambush in Maungdaw Township. ARSA had also mounted an attack near Maungdaw’s Wat Kyein Village on Jan. 16 when artillery shelling wounded three officers in a two-hour assault on a police post in northern Maungdaw Township according to the General Administration Department (GAD).
Clearly the situation in the Rakhine State has deteriorated in multiple areas with two militant groups of which one the AA is a military formation raising the ante against the Myanmar Army, how it tackles the challenge now remains to be seen?