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An End to Myanmar’s Civil War? A Conversation With Paul Greening

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Beyond the Mekong | Security | Southeast Asia

An End to Myanmar’s Civil War? A Conversation With Paul Greening

Greening says anti-regime forces could capture the Irrawaddy Basin and eventually declare victory over the junta.

An End to Myanmar’s Civil War? A Conversation With Paul Greening
Credit: Luke Hunt

Paul Greening has worked as a political analyst and a specialist consultant with civil society organizations covering Myanmar since the military ousted an elected government in early 2021, pushing the country into a bitter civil war.

He says unprecedented battlefield success by anti-regime forces during their latest dry season offensive has turned the war decisively against the junta, which can no longer be won by its chief Min Aung Hlaing and his ruling generals.

But the conflict is still far from over and peace talks with the military are no longer wanted given past attempts by ASEAN and others to find a peaceful solution, which all but ignored the National Unity Government (NUG) and the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) – and failed.

At best, Greening says, the armed wing of the NUG, the People’s Defense Forces (PDFs), and the EAOs might be in a position to force an end to the junta’s reign within a year by encircling and taking the Irrawaddy basin, which includes the cities of Yangon, Naypyidaw, and Mandalay.

Despite opinions to the contrary, he says that means the fighting will continue throughout the coming monsoon.

However, relationships between more than 20 EAOs, their political allegiances, the PDFs, and the NUG are complicated, lacking a central command structure while their objectives differ, he told The Diplomat’s Luke Hunt in Mae Sot on the Thai/Myanmar border.

The NUG wants a return to the pre-coup era and the reinstatement of the government that was shoved out by the barrel of gun. But EAOs have made it clear their fight is for the independence of their own respective states and that this does not fit with the NUG’s agenda.

Greening, who has many years of experience working for various United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, is hopeful that a loose confederation of independent states will eventually emerge out of Myanmar from the grassroots.

But in the meantime, he says the harrowing bombing campaigns by the armed wing of the military and heavy fighting, particularly in the west of the country, is expected to continue.