Situational assessment of Myanmar 2022

Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing, the main actors in the Myanmar’s military coup. [source]

On Monday February 1, 2021, the army committed its fourth military coup in 63 years. The state of emergency was declared for one year and the Vice-President, General Myint Swe, was appointed interim president. Min Aung Hlaing is the commander-in-chief of the army and has been the de facto head of the country since 1 February 2021. 

Key Assessment 1

It is almost certain that power will remain in the hands of the Tatmadaw during all the declared a state of emergency and likely even after. No interventions and change of regime are foreseeable in the next 12 months.

  • Military institutions have held political and economic power for the last 50 years. The informal Burmese economy is very extensive and often administered by the Tatmadaw or EAOs. Illicit trafficking in Myanmar has strengthened the structure of existing power. Foreign economic sanctions mired to weaken these networks are insufficient. [source]
  • Opposition movements pro-NGL are not shouting down despite the Tatmadaw declaring it as a terrorist organization giving rise to civil violence. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the NGL, is detained and the members of her party are mainly expelled since the military coup. The international community should push the army to free political dissidents, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and begin talks with her shadow government near the Thai border.

Key Assessment 2

The worsening of the interior situation will likely complicate the situation for the junta to handle, leading to a state failure in the next 12 months.

  • Covid-19 and political shock have led to an inevitable collapse of the economy. The crisis has most likely no prospects of improvement. Specifically, the most recent estimates predict that GDP will fall close to 9% by the end of the year.
  • The region is on the verge of civil war. The collapse of the Burmese economy will likely increase the number of territories controlled by EAOs, such as the Kachin or Karen guerrilla, or under the control of pro-junta militias.
  • Given the internal violence, it is highly improbable to envision a Tatmadaw cease-fire. No decisive victories among these actors are foreseeable, fueling violence and chaos. [source]
  • General Min Aung Hlaing has declared himself Prime Minister till elections in 2023 declaring 1 year of the state of emergency. However, state functions have drastically gone down since February 2021 military coup. They are very likely to further worsen, bringing Myanmar on the verge of being a failed state before the promised elections.
Protestants against the military coup and lack of intervention. [source]

Key Assessment 3

Greater international effort to bring stability is however highly unlikely to happen in the next 12 months.

  • The covid crisis added to the geographical distance from NATO powers and the veto of China and Russia at the Security Council for taking actions against the junta made it unlikely intervention of western countries other than economic sanctions in the next year.
  • For the time being, the US and like-minded partners may concentrate on humanitarian relief but with little likelihood of success.
  • ASEAN tried to address the situation despite its typical hands-off attitude in Jakarta. However, long strategic investments and rent-seeking business entail the need of recognize Myanmar military coup as a change of governance.
  • Nonetheless, given China’s long relationship with Myanmar, a direct PLA intervention in the event of civil war is realistic probability. It is however unclear which side it would support. [source]

Sofia Staderini
Sofia Staderini
Post-graduate student in International Affairs at Hertie School with a particular focus in International Security. She graduated cum laude in July 2021 in Philosophy, International and Economic Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with a dissertation on post-truth politics. She took part in several conferences and study projects in Europe such as the Global Studies at the Institute of Maritime Military Studies of Venice, the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung’s "War or Peace" program in Berlin, yet ensued by Scuola di Politiche and the Académie Notre Europe. Fluent in Italian, French, English, and Spanish. Currently studying German and Russian.

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