Myanmar’s military has been holding a five-day power demonstration since last Friday with warships, helicopters and two submarines, raising fears that the military is preparing for a major war with the Arkan Army (AA).
The junta-run newspaper Myanmar Alin (New Light of Myanmar) said on Wednesday that the military exercise took place 1,300 miles (2,080 km) off the coast of Rakhine State in the Bay of Bengal.
Pei Than, a member of the People’s Assembly who closely monitors the military situation, said the exercise showed that the army was ready to make full use of the navy if fighting broke out with the AA in Rakhine.
“It is impossible to prevent international hostility with such force and there is no country planning a war with this country,” he said. . The main thing is that they can show their strength. ”
The president of the military council joins a high-ranking official to watch the war game
The exercise was overseen by Military Council President Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. High-level members of the Army, Navy and Air Force were present on Tuesday.
According to comments published in the Wednesday edition of the Myanmar Alin newspaper, Min Aung Hlaing ordered the warships to be constantly ready for battle.
“Navy warships must be ready. Also weapons and ammunition must be ready. Navy personnel must be ready. They need to be constantly trained to be ready for war and maintain these three levels of readiness, ”he said.
The goal of Sea Shield 2022 is to cover 12 nautical miles (22.2 km / 13.8 miles) of Myanmar’s territorial waters and protect Myanmar’s exclusive economic zone at sea, the junta chairman said. Myanmar’s exclusive economic zone borders its territorial waters and extends 200 nautical miles (370.4 km / 230 miles) from the coastal baseline.
One of the submarines used in military exercises arrived on May 31 at Quechua in Rakhine State. Quechua is home to some of China’s largest economic projects, and locals have criticized the military council for showing a willingness to protect Chinese businesses at the event. Battle with AA.
AA spokesman Khing Thukha told an online news conference on June 14 that the military council was increasing its forces and weapons in Rakhine and was preparing for a full-scale attack if there was a renewed battle with the AA.
Local residents said tensions have been exacerbated by the arrest of AA members or the arrest of those sympathetic to the AA abduction of junta troops.
Last June, the AA abducted more than 10 police and soldiers, and the junta responded by arresting 40 civilians from four townships in Sittwe.Kyuktav, Ponna Kyun and Mruk-u.
The AA waged a fierce campaign against the Myanmar army from December 2018 to November 2020, demanding autonomy for the Arakanese.
More than 300 civilians were killed and more than 700 wounded in the fighting in Rakhine State, according to figures compiled by the RFA.
Before the coup took place on 1 February 2021, both sides agreed to an informal ceasefire and an uneasy ceasefire lasted for more than a year. However, locals said RFA tensions have increased over the past two months, with the arrival of arrests and military reinforcements.
Tensions are also rising outside the Rakhine state as the AA has a presence in the states of Chin, Qian and Shan.
A military air strike on Monday killed six AA members and wounded dozens when junta jets targeted a camp in the state of Kein (Karen) near the Thailand-Myanmar border, a region controlled by AA ally Karenni National Liberation Army.
As of March 6 this year, fighting between the junta force and the AA has forced about 78,000 people to flee their homes in Rakhine and Chin states, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.