The civil war in Myanmar has taken a dramatic turn in recent months.
Never since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021 has it looked so vulnerable.
In October, an alliance of three ethnic armed groups – known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance – launched Operation 1027 – with the aim of overthrowing the junta.
It was an unprecedented show of unity and clarity in a country that’s had a history of disparate groups – some who have been fighting for decades.
The alliance has made big gains in the north of Shan State, driving the army out of large areas along the border with China, taking over military posts, border crossings and roads and affecting trade with China.
Entire military units are also said to have surrendered.
That success by the alliance has also emboldened other opposition groups across Myanmar.
Some analysts say China, which has previously been a moderating force, has allowed the operation to go ahead because of anger over the military’s failure to stop scam centres spreading in Shan State.
In another border area, we meet Maung Thone Nya, a member of the People’s Defence Force, who fled the fighting in Myanmar two months ago so that his wife can give birth. He’s now living in a safe house.
Image: Maung Thone Nya speaks to Sky News
“The rebels are making change and making institutional reforms,” he tells Sky News.
“The reason we’re gaining more ground is because of our mindset. We really want to fight against the junta.
“We’re fighting for our rights and we’re hungry for success.”
He talks about how galvanised and hopeful the fighters feel by the new offensive – but he also describes a debilitating economic situation and a climate of fear and oppression led by the ruling junta.
“People in Myanmar can’t even sleep freely,” he says.
“They don’t feel safe during the daytime or night-time because the military knock at their doors and threaten their safety.”
Khun Bedu is chair of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF), which is engaged in fierce battles with the military to capture their first state capital, the city of Loikaw.
I ask him if he really thinks they can beat a much better funded and resourced military.
“It would not be realistic to say right now,” he says, adding: “But what we can say is the movement, the growth of the resistance forces, is getting stronger, smarter, greater experience.”
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There is little sign the Myanmar regime is about to collapse. It will struggle to match its manpower or financial heft.
The junta has the benefit of Chinese and Russian-made rocket launchers, aircraft and helicopters.
There are indications it’s being pushed a little closer to possible concessions, though.
The military said it’s recently held talks with the rebels, mediated by China, and that there will be more in this month.
The alliance, however, insists it remains committed to defeating the country’s “dictatorship”.
At the very least, it has put the regime on the back foot, which currently looks overstretched and under pressure.
Source : Sky News