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Where Is The Arsenal Of Democracy? – OpEd

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After one year of Burmese military coup, time have revealed whether the current American Administration lives up to its forefathers promise to the world of whether America is the Arsenal of Democracy or not? In fact, President Biden had said that “it is a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy” and setting up an early test of American moral authority following domestic efforts to overturn the U.S. presidential election.

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President Biden had threatened to reimpose U.S. economic sanctions on Burma, over the forcible removal of the civilian government and the detention of its de facto leader, Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. “In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” said President Biden in a statement that urged a coordinated international response. Now after one year, we have not seen any credible actions on Burma, Why? No doubt the Burmese Generals have carbon copied from former President’s Trump’s claim of an unfair elections whose results could not be trusted as ever other power maniacs do. Derek Mitchell, a former U.S. envoy for Burma who now leads the National Democratic Institute commented. “Democracy is one of the pillars of the Biden administration’s foreign policy agenda and have to address this pretty seriously. Yet so far, we have not seen anything tangible

Union of Burma has just begun to emerge from years of authoritarian military rule in 2011 with the coaxing of the Obama administration. Biden, as vice president at the time, applauded the democratic gains and has rehired some of the U.S. officials who worked to promote Daw Suu Kyi’s movement. In fact, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, had received a Nobel Peace Prize for her years-long battle against her country’s authoritarian rulers. But in recent years, she has faced sharp criticism for supporting the military’s onslaught against the country’s Rohingya minority. Kurt Campbell, one of the architects of the U.S. rapprochement with Burma and the lifting of sanctions, is now Biden’s top official for Asia policy on the National Security Council and yet we have not witnessed any concrete actions on Burma. In fact, Kurt Campbell left the government in 2013 to start a consulting firm that joined a bid for a contract to revamp Burma’s largest airport, a deal worth $1 billion over 30 years. The bid failed, along with broader U.S. efforts to scale back the power of Myanmar’s military and solidify democratic gains after the 2015 election that ushered Suu Kyi and her party to power. Activists have recommended strong U.S.-led response. “It is essential the Biden administration work closely with other countries to send a strong and coordinated message,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.

In the meantime, Iranian planes landing in Burma have raised speculation of secretive military-to-military cooperation, including possible sensitive Iranian weapons sales amid rising international calls to impose an arms embargo on the rights-abusing junta. Diplomatic sources based in Southeast Asia said that an Iranian delegation that landed in Burma on January 13 was either the second or third to visit since the military seized power and suspended democracy in a February 1, 2021, coup. One must recollect that Iran is accused of providing military equipment and weapons to several repressive regimes, as well as to Tehran-aligned belligerents in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars and now Burma is added to its list. One must recollect that in 2017, the deputy head of the Iranian Parliament called for the creation of joint military forces by Muslim countries to stop Burma’s military violence against ethnic minority Rohingyar. According to data on Flight radar 24, a plane owned by the Iranian cargo airline Qeshm Fars Air flew from Mashhad, Iran’s second-biggest city, to Burma last Thursday. The plane returned to Iran the following day, as the flight tracker data reveals. “This is the second time I have noticed an Iran flight. It is understood to be communication related to military technology,” Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG), told Asia Times. “Military relations between the Burmese military junta, which seeks to adopt a military authoritarianism, and a country like Iran can be said to be a worrying situation, not only for atrocities against the Myanmar people but also from a regional and international security perspective,” she added. Sources monitoring the recent Iranian flights suggest Tehran may be offering to provide the Burmese’s junta with guided missiles, a procurement that would raise eyebrows in neighboring nations including Thailand and India. The junta has increasingly used aerial bombardments and helicopter-borne gun attacks against resistance forces. More than 1,400 civilians have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a human rights group. Reports of military torture, rape and executions are commonplace on Burmese social media. 

It must be remembered that the European Union has proposed a binding international arms embargo on Burma, in response to the coup and post-coup abuses. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution last year calling on all states to “to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.” But analysts reckon that it will be difficult to stop the sale of munitions and equipment to the junta even if an embargo is imposed, which seems unlikely. “China and Russia, the two authoritarian largest providers [of weaponry], are likely to block any UN Secretary Council resolution or abstain,” said Hunter Marston, a researcher on Southeast Asia at the Australian National University. But we feel that an international embargo should only be imposed on arms sales to the junta as it was exclusively used to kill its own citizens. At the same time, there are rising calls for democratic Western countries to supply weapons to outgunned anti-junta forces, who are currently relying on ethnic armed organizations and other groups along the border with Thailand for their until now meager arms.

One can recollect that during the Cold War the big Powers and their allies continued to support massively the successive regimes of despotic and ultra-chauvinist generals of Burma. In fact, even after the Cold War, the big Powers and their allies continued to give substantial support under the guidance of Constructive Engagement policy and gradual change. It seems that the big Powers believe that they would be able to reform the Burman military dictators, with economic investment, aid and assistance, urging all stake holders to adopt the policy of non-violence, even though it was clear that the Burman military generals were power-greedy lot, had no sense of loyalty, and that they want neither democracy nor peace. But the people of Burma understand the psyche and rationale of the generals, with master-race ideology would use all kinds of dirty tricks and brute force to remain in power and defend their totalitarian system.

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The crafty military leaders finally decided to make a show of relaxing its hold on power and allowed some forms of democratic freedom under its so-called disciplined democracy in 2011, the NLD studiously follow the strategy of non-violent action and compromise approach, as advised by the big Powers and their allies, to the point of appeasement with the military dictators. Instead of changing the mind of the generals, the strategy simply emboldened them to continue to cling to their policy of violence and terrorism to the point of seizing power against the overwhelmingly and democratically elected representatives of the people. The coup d’état soon provoked a nationwide demonstrations and protests and now it was the army was fighting resolutely against the very people of Burma whom they have vowed to protect.

The people of Burma earnestly hope that the big Powers and their allies have no reason now to be tricked by the lies of the despotic and perfidious Burman generals and political elites. And would extend at least moral support and enough humanitarian assistance, to the people being subjected to heinous crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Tatmadaw generals in power has been due to the massive aid, assistance and support given by the allies, during the Cold War. At the same time, it is necessary not to pay attention to the one-time Socialist Party ultra-chauvinists and their adherents, many whom had taken refuge in the US, European countries, Australia, and Japan. They still pose themselves as knowing best the political, cultural, and social situations of Burma. It has been their ultra-chauvinist ideology of enslaving the non-Burman Indigenous ethnic nationalities of the country that has plunged the country into more than 7-decades long civil war. Like the Tatmadaw generals, they have alleged Aung San Suu Kyi as a dictator, with no political acumen for state building, giving too much favor to the non- Burman ethnic nationalities, etc. The big Powers and their allies’ reliance on the Burman ultra-chauvinists and the Burman military was their belief in the ultra-chauvinists’ false propaganda that the Burman people form a super-majority of nearly 70% of the population of the country. However, the fact is that the non-Burman ethnic nationalities together are 70% of the entire population of the country. That is why, despite massive aid and assistance by the big Powers and their allies, successive Burman military regimes could not have subjugated the ethnic nationalities resistance forces, even after

more than 7-decade of low-intensity war  

The NUG is currently striving to get the international recognition at the UN, and aid and assistance from the friendly countries. As usual in the multi-polar world, intense pro-and-con debate is going on at the UN for the recognition of the NUG as the legitimate government, after nearly a year of the NUG formation. To any unbiased person or group, it is beyond all doubt that, most of the people of Burma has become totally opposed to the totalitarian system imposed on the country by the cruel Tatmadaw. It is the earnest hope of people of all levels of society of Burma that the true friends of the country will make all the effort not to fail them again. The people also hope that Russia, China, Ukraine, Israel, India, Iran etc. which have sold, at one time, war weapons, jet fighters, helicopter gunships, armoured cars, tanks, military trucks, etc., for dollars, would totally stop selling even the spare parts. Recently, the military junta is declaring ceasefire in many areas, starting to call for peace talks and making noises to release Aung San Suu Kyi, if the PDFs surrender their arms. There is no doubt that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would readily accept martyrdom, rather than exchange her release with the surrender of the People Defense Forces and the defeat of the people’s movement for freedom, federal democracy, and lasting peace. It is also high time that the West led by the US should help the pro democracy in any way feasible for the overthrow of the hated Junta. Or at least a few dozens of shoulders fired SAMs (Surface to Air missiles) will silence the only Junta’s forces and the prevalence of democracy in Burma will be achieved.

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