Opinion - The Irrawaddy

The durability of the Burmese military establishment can be explained in reference to several key bulwarks. In military parlance, these might be referred to as ‘defensive lines,’ employed to ensure the army’s preeminent position. The first key attribute of power is its monopoly of force, selectively applied both in actuality and through intimation. But even […]

Ringed by police and army checkpoints, Aung Mingalar in Sittwe is a stark ongoing reminder of the deadly communal violence that rocked Arakan State in 2012.

Asean members are still struggling to surrender any political sovereignty, the key to becoming the powerhouse regional community they say they want to be.

Remembering Saffron: Of Monks and Military Men

A look back at the legacy of the 2007 Saffron Uprising.

Burma’s Bond with Israel: From Meditation to Military Muscle

The close relationship between U Nu and Israel’s former PM David Ben-Gurion marked a high-point in Israel-Burma ties that have since been left to drift.

RANGOON — In considering what comes next after Burma’s looming general election, Aung San Suu Kyi may well look back to her party’s annulled first victory 25 years ago. It’s a political scar that the 70-year-old pro-democracy icon, along with much of the country, remains acutely aware. On September 8, the opening day of the […]

As the election draws closer, it is telling that the country’s powerful military chief looms larger over the campaign than the president. The front page splashes of Thein Sein in state-run newspapers, cordially greeting diplomats and touring villages, would not appear out of place at any point in the last five years. A slick campaign […]

Tie a blindfold around a man’s eyes, spin him around three times, hand him a dart and tell him to hit the bull’s-eye. This is the picture that comes to mind when one considers the ongoing effort by Union Election Commission (UEC) officials to correct the lists enumerating Burma’s eligible voters. What was presented as […]

With a general election less than two months away, a growing movement is afoot to push back against military appointments to a variety of government ministries and departments. Activists say they fear an acceleration of these appointments in the lead up to the Nov. 8 vote, as a means of entrenching the military’s presence in […]

It has became a deceptive routine to describe Thein Sein as a well-intentioned and bold reformer who has made peace and development his priorities; he released political prisoners, kicked off a reform agenda, initiated dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and lifted a ban on the opposition. After the removal of Shwe Man from the […]

The hard fact is that Burma’s military is not going to retreat from the nation’s political sphere anytime soon. The top generals have learned hard lessons from their regional neighbors, especially Thailand and Indonesia, about how to keep their guard. We know this simply by watching the movements of Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. The powerful […]

In this article from The Irrawaddy’s archives, first published in September 2013, Irrawaddy editor Kyaw Zwa Moe asks whether the National League for Democracy still enjoys the overwhelming public support demonstrated in the 1990 election. Is the NLD still the people’s party? On this question, opinion in Burma varies, but the doubters are likely a […]

Lucky Numbers in the Quest for Peace

Burmese generals’ edicts have often been intimately tied to numerology and astrology. Is the peace process similarly tied to superstitious numbers?

With Burma’s general election just two months away, there is one simple question on nearly everyone’s mind: Who will be the winner? But as with many questions in Burma, the answer is rarely as simple as one might hope. Given both parties’ strength and popularity among voters, at first glance the Nov. 8 general election […]

Burma’s ruling party is highly unlikely to win a majority in the upcoming election—provided it is free and fair. However, should their determination to rule outweigh commonsense, it may see no alternative but to engage in vote rigging. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), formed by the previous military regime, won more than 75 […]

Post-Coup Ties Firm across the Burma-Thai Divide

With both countries’ armed forces politically ascendant, Burma-Thai relations appear—as officials on both sides are at pains to point out—better than ever.

It was a sunny afternoon on Bo Ba Htoo Road, located on the outskirts of Yangon. As soon as I hailed the old Toyota, I noticed the vehicle’s company logo—Parami Taxi, a subsidiary of a major business conglomerate run by the military. Parami taxis are an increasingly rare sighting on the streets of the commercial […]

While election campaigns get underway in Myanmar, government authorities are waging their own campaign to round up and silence activists and political opponents. The law is on their side. Myanmar’s legal code provides the necessary tools to harass, arrest and imprison those who threaten the status quo. Myanmar has a long history of undemocratic governance. […]

The sudden ouster of Shwe Mann from Burma’s ruling party reconfirmed that the military is not about to relinquish power, writes Bertil Lintner.

The sudden removal of one of Myanmar’s most powerful men sent shockwaves through the diplomatic community in the old capital of Yangon, where foreign embassies are still located. It seemed more like a midnight coup than an ordinary leadership reshuffle—security forces in the new capital, Naypyidaw, entered the headquarters of the de facto ruling party, […]

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