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Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA)

The MNDAA or Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army is made up of remnants of the Chinese-backed guerilla group the Communist Party of Burma, which disbanded in 1989.

The Communist Party of Burma (CPB), also known as The Burma Communist Party (BCP), was founded in 1939 primarily as an underground insurgent organization, even though the CPB was later registered as a legal political party. The initial founders were Thakin Soe (Thakin meaning "Master"), Thakin Than Tun, A.N. Goshal, Thakin Hla Pe and Dr. Naag.

At independence, civil war broke out almost immediately around the country. The Communist Party of Burma withdrew from the government and launched an insurrection against the central government in 1948. Many ethnic groups joined the hostilities in an effort to secure sovereignty or autonomy as well as protection of minority rights. At one point, Rangoons writ did not extend much beyond the outskirts of the capital itself. Much was lost in the decades of fighting that followed, and the indirect consequences of the combat spilled over into Thailand and even reached the United States as some minority groups yielded to the temptation of the narcotics trade.

The Burmese Communist Party (BCP) White Flag faction located in Pegu Yoma and the BCP associated with The Red Flag faction in the Rakhine state (formerly Arakan State) were Communist underground groups assimilated by the government in 1960. The long-simmering insurgency of the 4,000 or so Peking-oriented White Flags (Communist Party of Burma/White Flag) was given a new orientation in 1966 when they adopted a full-blown Maoist line. This was followed shortly by a crisis in Sino-Burmese relations generated by Peking's Cultural Revolution.

Although the Chinese later moderated their overt hostility toward the Ne Win regime, they persisted in an effort to weaken it; they supplied guns and training in adjacent Yunnan Province to the relatively few members of dissident ethnic groups willing to cooperate with White Flag elements in attacks against government units in northeastern Burma.

Whatever the communist strategy in Burma, Peking and the White Flags had little hope of implementing it without substantial cooperation from the Kachin, Shan, Karen, and other ethnic insurgent forces. The lack of common objectives and cohesion among these rebel groups was their principal weakness vis--vis the Rangoon governmen. Moreover, most ethnic insurgent leaders appeared to be anti-Chinese and to oppose communism as a threat to their ancient modes of living.

The Shan State Army (SSA) and the Burmese Communist Party (BCP) cooperated starting in 1970 to threaten the Burmese government. The SSA was involved in disagreements over narcotic trading and drugs, which caused the 1976 split from the BCP. A breakaway BCP faction was established and later returned to the SSA. Some cooperation still occurred through the early 1980's. The People's Army, the military arm of The Burmese Communist Party (BCP), floundered by 1980 because of it's short supply ammunition.

The efforts of Burma's government to combat former rebels who had formed the fighting force of the now-defunct Communist Party of Burma fostered a new generation of warlords located along the country's border with China's Yunnan province and actively encouraged by Burma's military junta to enter into drug trafficking.

In the late 1980s, China began courting the Burmese regime, then in bad odor with the rest of the world for slaughtering hundreds of demonstrators. Beijing dropped its support of the Communist Party of Burma and other ethnic rebel groups and opened the long Sino-Burmese border to trade. That pried the lid from a Pandora's Box.

By the late 1980s this area had become the location of the region's most rapidly expanding heroin empire, and the Burma Road used in World War II has been one of the main routes for narcotics leaving the Golden Triangle into China and onto the world market. Estimates were that as much as 30 percent of the heroin produced in Burma's Golden Triangle region was going through China this way.

By the early 1990s drug addiction in the area was increasing rapidly, and the government appeared to be taking no significant action to address drug-related problems. In addition, the severe penalties that were the central component of China's drug policy were also having no deterrent effect in that country.

The Government of Burma pursued and arrested individual drug traffickers, including members of some former insurgent groups, but at the turn of the century was unwilling or unable to take on the most powerful groups directly. The cease-fire agreements signed with these insurgent groups often implicitly condoned their continued participation in drug production and trafficking, at least over the short term. The ethnic drug-trafficking armies, such as the United Wa State Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, remain armed and heavily involved in the heroin trade.

There is no evidence that the government was involved on an institutional level in the drug trade. However, there are reliable reports that individual Burmese officials in outlying areas are either directly involved in drug trafficking or provide protection to those who are. In addition, while the government encouraged ethnic insurgents who signed cease-fire agreements to curb narcotics production and trafficking, only after the year 2000 did it begin to take aggressive law enforcement actions to control these activities. Over the 6 months from late 2001 to early 2002, the Burmese Government cracked down particularly hard on the Kokang region controlled by Peng Jiasheng's Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which had pledged to be opium free by 2000. With the assistance of the People's Republic of China, the Burmese Government staged a series of arrests of major traffickers in all areas of the Kokang, including Laukkai, the capital of Kokang State.

In her 16 November 2007 report on the use of child soldiers in Burma, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Coomaraswamy cited evidence that the both the government army and several armed insurgent and cease-fire groups, including the United Wa State Army, Kachin Independence Army, Karenni National People's Liberation Front, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Shan State Army-South, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and Karen National Union Peace Council, recruited child soldiers. According to Coomaraswamy, the UN received reports of frequent sightings of children being forcibly taken and used by armed groups in Shan State, including the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Shan State Army-South.

Burmas ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), announced that in accord with the new constitution, all the ethnic militias would be transformed into Border Guard Forces (BGF) under the command of the Burmese military or face the possible abrogation of the existing ceasefire agreements and the resumption of hostilities. In August 2009, the refusal of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army operating in the Kokang region of northern Shan State to join the BGF resulted in a military offensive.

The Burma Army defeated the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, an ethnic Kokang group, in an offensive in which thousands of people fled to China and the Burma Army destroyed a weapons and narcotics processing facility in the Kokang region. On November 11, 2010, fighting broke out between the Burmese military and the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), which had also rejected its transformation into a BGF. Over the next few months, conflicts between the Burmese military and several other ethnic militias erupted across much of eastern Burma.

The Myanmar military stripped Peng Jiasheng of his control of the Kokang autonomous region in 2009. Since then he had been on the run, until recently returning to try to regain the area as Myanmar seeks a peace accord with ethnic groups and prepares for national elections in 2015.

On 09 February 2015 ethnic Chinese rebel leader Peng Jiasheng launched a fight for control of the Kokang region in northern Myanmar, which is close to Chinas southern border in the province of Yunnan. The fighting, had already claimed at least 130 lives within weeks and tens of thousands fled across the border, seeking safety in China.

Myanmar accused Chinese mercenaries of fighting alongside the rebels. It has also asked China to cooperate and prevent what it called terrorist attacks from being launched from Chinese territory. But the leader of the rebels denied rumors that he has received help from Chinese citizens or mercenaries. Authorities are trying to play down the tensions.

The Myanmar government accused local Chinese officials and other ethnic groups of assisting the rebels and has called for China's help in preventing attacks launched across the border. China has strongly denied the allegation, saying it respects Myanmar's sovereignty.

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Page last modified: 18-03-2015 20:55:56 ZULU