AA Says Myanmar Military Gearing Up for Return to War in Rakhine

By The Irrawaddy 15 June 2022

The Myanmar military is preparing for a return to war in Rakhine State, Arakan Army (AA) spokesman Khaing Thukha said at a press conference held by the Rakhine ethnic armed organization on Tuesday.

“The situation is fraught, and the Myanmar military continues to disrupt our administration and judicial system. We see that they are preparing to fight a war on the Rakhine front,” Khaing Thukha said.

The Myanmar military had been less active in Rakhine State since an informal ceasefire between it and the AA took hold in late 2020, but an increase in military activity has been observed lately with the regime reinforcing its troops and weaponry, including a submarine, the spokesman said.

Relations have soured between the regime and the AA, and the military’s recent activities in Rakhine meant that clashes could erupt there at any time, he added.

Despite the relative calm in Rakhine, the state government installed by the regime has restricted the movements of local people, as well as the free flow of trade. Far from enjoying the fruits of peace, locals now live in fear, he said.

“The Rakhine government [of the regime] bullies Rakhine civilians and misappropriates public funds, and corruption is rampant. Our patience is limited for Rakhine individuals on the regime’s administrative bodies, and we will need to handle them as necessary,” he said.

The Rakhine State government under the current regime is worse than all of its predecessors, Khaing Thukha said.

The spokesman also said that the AA had detained junta soldiers in response to the military regime’s arrest of administrative officials of the United League of Arakan (ULA), the political wing of the AA, in townships across Rakhine.

AA troops arrested a corporal and a private from a junta outpost near Kisspanadi Bridge in Kyauktaw on Saturday, he said. The pair were detained as they went to a nearby market to buy food, he added.

The two sides are negotiating through middlemen to defuse tensions, but a military confrontation could erupt if negotiations fail, Khaing Thukha said.

Over the past year, with the Myanmar military distracted by the fallout from its 2021 coup, the AA has further consolidated its control in Rakhine with an administrative network delivering public services, a functioning judiciary, and its own police force. Tensions have arisen as the regime attempts to counter the AA’s expanding influence.

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