Early this month, the Burma Army’s 15 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) that were dispatched to Kehsi township, where the offensive was launched against the Shan State Progress Party/ Shan State Army (SSPP/ SSA), better known as the SSA North, since D-Day, 13 March, were withdrawn.
The number of reports of the fighting between the two sides have also become spotty, except between its cousin the SSA South and the Burma Army, of which the former is obviously engaged in diversionary operations.
The reasons are clear:
- On the Burma Army’s side, a miscalculation had been made. It was at first thought the group could be overrun within 6-days. However, it later learned that the SSA North is not an easy target. The APCs were useless against it whose fighters did not have any positions to defend and who were fighting at close quarters. It also has, clearly with assistance from the SSA South, expanded its operations from central Shan State to the north.
- Naypyitaw has also achieved its other objective: Closing off the Salween crossing that had served as links between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the SSA South.
- On the SSA side, fighting alone against the Burma Army, while its allies, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the north and UWSA in the east, are “staying idle” is something less than desirable
The KIA meanwhile says it is far from staying idle. It is busy forming the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) with the aim to set up a “Union Army” with 10 other groups.
The UWSA, probably through Beijing’s pressure and certainly is own appeasement faction’s wish, has not given up the hope for a negotiated settlement.
On 2 May, it issued a statement calling for fresh talks with the new leadership in Naypyitaw, led by President Thein Sein, reminding it that its predecessors had promised negotiations for political issues soon after an elected government came into being.
The hopes are so high Panghsang, the Wa HQ, has decided to dismiss two most recent unprovoked shootings by the Burma Army in Mongton township, opposite Chiangmai, that left six of its fighters dead.
So what’s the next move?
The Burma Army is currently concentrating its troops in Mongyawng opposite the Chinese border. For more than a week, the Wa and its closest ally National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) have been anticipating an attack which has so far failed to materialize.
“Perhaps Naypyitaw is waiting for the green light from Beijing,” wonders on Wa officer.
In August 2009, when Kokang, another Wa ally and a group whose territory adjoins China, was attacked, Jiang Yu, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, warned Naypyitaw to “properly deal with its domestic issues to safeguard regional stability” and to ensure safety and rights of Chinese citizens in that country, according to AP.
Gen Xu Caihou, China’s Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, arrived in Burma yesterday to discuss “international and regional security issues” as well as “military ties between the two countries,” reported Xinhua.