Number of clashes decreases in December: Think Tank

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At least 52 armed incidents took place nationwide in December, down from 63 the previous month, while the conflict in Shan and Kachin intensified, according to the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security (MIPS) in their January briefing.

Although fighting between the Arakan Army/United League of Arakan (AA/ULA) and Tatmadaw in Paletwa ceased, the conflict between Northern Alliance members and the Tatmadaw further escalated. The fighting in Kachin continues to produce high casualties on the Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO) side while the Tatamdaw makes significant advances against its opponents, MIPS said.

Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continued in December throughout 8 townships in Kachin State with the heaviest fighting seen in Tanai, Waingmaw, Hpakant, and Mansi townships.

The briefing also said the Ta’ang National Liberation Army/ Palaung State Liberation Front (TNLA/PSLF) attacked a number of Tatmadaw outposts throughout the Muse 105-Mile Trade Zone and along the Lashio-Muse road from mid to late December. The TNLA is now coordinating and fighting alongside the KIA, but the Northern Alliance has not succeeded in capturing any of its objectives. More fighting between the two sides will likely continue into the new year.

On December 1, the TNLA took over the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) controlled Mong Yin village tract in Namtu Township. Then, on December 5, the TNLA clashed with the SSPP/ SSA in Namtu. Both groups are members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC). On the following day, the TNLA announced that its takeover of Mong Yin was a matter of cooperation with the SSPP/SSA and an effort to stem drug trafficking and other narcotic related actives. Sources told MIPS that the TNLA’s takeover of the village tract angered SSPP/SSA commanders.

The MIPS also stated that, ethnic tension between the Palaung and Shan is currently on the rise and could prompt more conflict between the two sides in the future. These same ethnic tensions have also strained the TNLA’s relationship with the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA). Under increasing pressure from the Tatmadaw, the TNLA requested a meeting with the RCSS in hopes of improving relations between the two sides, but the meeting has yet to take place

The briefing concludes, the government has strengthened its efforts to reach out to the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) as key players among the northern armed groups that have not signed the NCA. Despite increased coordination between the Tatmadaw and the government, they did not reach consensus on the concept of sub-national dialogue or where consultation meetings should take place. Although it remains uncertain whether the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) will sign the NCA in the near future, it appears that the government and Tatmadaw intend to move forward with negotiations for a political settlement without the remaining 13 non-signatories of the NCA.