Current Political Scenario of MyanmarMyanmar's current political scenario
Myanmar's External Affairs after the Rakhine State Missile ( "Part I") - Team Circle
In a two-part article, Kim Jolliffe examines the effects of the Rakhine state war on Myanmar's global relationship. Myanmar State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi issued a "report to the people" on the recent Rakhine crises on 12 October. These and other commentaries in the address mirror two views that are widespread in Myanmar: that criticisms of the foreign policy are unjust and condescending and that the state must continue to maintain its patriotism and focus on its wider political and economical agendas.
Myanmar's path to "peace and development" will inevitably be marked by its relationships with other states. Responding in today's globalized economy has serious repercussions; coping with them is a vital task for good governance. The dismissal of and reliance on inner "unity" in foreign affairs is a dangerous policy for any regime, even in a time of need.
These include cooperation on supranational human rights and safety standards and the prevention of trans-national conflicts. For this two-part diary I look at three types of external policy challenge that Myanmar may face as a consequence of the Rakhine war. Part I of this paper examines the impact on Myanmar's high-level strategy. The second part deals on the one hand with relationships with most Islamic nations and on the other with the increasing threats from trans-national Islamic terrorism.
Whomever we hold responsible for recent incidents, Myanmar's management of these threats will have a significant impact on the whole state. It is my primary concern to hear these views from Myanmar residents and to promote a positive debate on the best ways to address these issues.
I am conscious that many Myanmar reader have little interest in hearing another Westerner (especially a British!) who teaches them about the current state of affairs or expresses opinion founded on international ideals. That is why I am largely realistic in my analysis of the threat to the interests of the Myanmar administration and the 50 million individuals it regards as a citizen.
It is my sincere wish that this will help to reassure Myanmar actors to take seriously the seriousness of the current crises and the need for a respectful reaction from the authorities. The recent incidents in the state of Rakhine have initially affected Myanmar's relationship with the world's leaders. Specifically, the new capacity to equalize its relationship between China and the West could be lost, which was essential for supporting its political and economical progress internationally.
Burma could also experience substantial cuts in assistance and come under increased UN pressures, restoring the military's besieging mindset and maintaining conflicts and authority. Between the end of the 1980' and the beginning of the 2010', Myanmar's army rule was avoided by the West for reasons of respect for man.
It was therefore dependent on China and Russia for humanitarian and other assistance, investments and overseas diplomacy at the United Nations, especially in the face of pressures from people. Meanwhile, many UN organizations worked with the army rulers where they could and tried to prevent significant conflicts with the state.
Starting in 2011, Thein Sein's regime made significant investments in cutting its dependency on China and in gaining access to world investments and establishing political ties with the West. Myanmar has since attracted disproportionately high levels of interest internationally for such a small country (and in comparison to its local neighbours). After the de facto elections of the democratic symbol Aung San Suu Kyi in 2015, the West and related financing agencies of the reigning dual civil-military regime have provided unparalleled development altogether.
The UN and other large organisations in the United Nations have kept away from controversial questions of mankind, particularly with regard to the concept of "Rohingya", and have consistently maintained that constant advances towards democratisation and peaceful development depend on compliance with the military's reluctance to interfere from outside in political and political matters.
Myanmar's assistance is based on the conviction that it is following an express liberalization policy to end authority and warmongering, and that it will work with the Western-led international "liberal order". Accession to this "order" implies the expectations that Myanmar will open its economies to external commerce and investments, participate in international safety issues (such as nonproliferation of atomic weapons), make a declaration of faith in democracies and comply with fundamental standards of humanitarity and defence in the interests of instability and people.
Westerner support for a free passage in Myanmar has been declining for at least a year and has declined following recent developments in the state of Rakhine. Increasing restrictions on civic freedoms, insufficient headway on the road to freedom and many indications that the army will remain detached from supervision by the armed forces are dashing the hope of an early and radical transformation by the new state.
Simultaneously, the West's appetite has diminished in this way, which is mainly due to the increase in legal policy in many states. In the aftermath of the Rakhine state crisis, the level of global human concerns reached an unprecedented level during the period of rule of the Rakhine Army Junt.
Whomever we accuse, there is no question that the number of displaced persons (more than 0.5 million in one month) is unusually high and that the continuing lack of statesmanship of such a focused group is causing profound local and interna -tional difficulties. This challenge has reinforced the voice of those in the West who want a resumption of severe punishments and global punitive measures against Myanmar's general.
In spite of Myanmar's growing political and economical importance, enthusiasm with the Myanmar authorities is becoming a risk to any West African leaders because of the seriousness of the problems of people and the enormous cost of philanthropic assistance that their donors have to bear. There is a good chance that donors' money and the West's interest in diplomacy will decline significantly in the years ahead, while Myanmar could revert to complete dependency on Russia and China to protect itself from crime and other assistance.
EU and US legislators are prosecuting Myanmar's army rulers, trading with the EU has been stopped and the hope of a "boom in FDI " under the current administration has stalled. The UN has become open and honest in its conviction of Myanmar through a number of agents and records, claiming possible "crimes against humanity" and "ethnic cleansing": concepts that were not even used against Myanmar in the nineties and two thousand years.
So what does this mean for Myanmar's internal policy diary? I' m not proposing that Myanmar should be desperate when thinking about a decline in Western commerce and investments (which is often associated with its own disadvantages anyway). Rather, there is a fear that the regime is in danger of loosing its capacity, evolved under Thein Sein's regime, to counterbalance its own overall strategy and thus pursue its own political and economical course.
Myanmar's world power could only become more involved if it needed ressources or safety co-operations and invested little in resolving its political endemics or overcome bribery, as is evident in most DC. The Chinese redress could still entail the cost of greater privileged use of Myanmar's rich heritage of nature, which is already being rapidly and transparently depleted and of little use to man.
Burma could also miss trillions of US dollar in assistance and technology assistance intended for the key themes of civil governance, such as the reconstruction of welfare services, reform of civil services and finance structures, the consolidation of democracies and the implementation of their transformation to federation. Payouts could be restricted to regular subsidies and lending on matters of overall interest or in the context of local policies, taking less account of Myanmar's particular needs.
Simultaneously, it could become more and more challenging for civic societies, political groups and charities, especially those following a rights-based agenda, to raise money. Whilst the commanders are likely to prevent real punishment under penal law, there is a risk that tensions in this area will revive their besieging mindset and further restrict citizens' liberties, domestic political oppositions and inequalities.
This, in an extremely scenario, gives rise to the specter that Myanmar is withdrawing from cooperating on fundamental overall safety standards and establishing a "security dilemma" circle that is increasing the hostilities between the nation and the West on an exponential basis. Although most non-German embassies acknowledge this danger, the cost of the discouragement of transnational crime, including domestic criticisms and the dilution of transnational standards, is seen more and more as the alleged benefits (continued participation in an unpersuasive "transition").
Finally, I would like to say that many Myanmar residents believe that foreign critique is not fair and that they do not, of course, need help and paternalism from the West. However, effective "peace and development" necessarily requires meticulous tensions to manage to make sure Myanmar is able to maximize the advantages of a number of multilateral alliances, prevent dependency on old coalitions and maintain its own political clout.
That presupposes a committed role by the authorities in fundamental human rights and safety standards, both in the further resolution of this crises and in the prevention of both. The second part deals with two other issues arising from the Rakhine crisis: 1) the deterioration of relationships with Islamic majorities and 2) the threat of trans-national Islamic terrorism.
im Jolliffe is an independant research, author and general ressource specializing in Myanmar's safety, environment, development and human rights issues.