Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


August 19, 2011

Please forward.

We want to connect three different new pieces of information about Burma.

We received the following about the fighting on the Shan front, dated 15 August.


"On the war front, our SSA soldiers have turned the table against the Tatmadaw by driving them back right up to Nong Keo near Maymyao. Their attempt to run over SSA HQ is far from over. They are stuck about 10-20 km away from the Wanhai HQ and they don't dare to withdraw either as they will be ambushed along the retreating lines. They now realized military solution is not the best option. So they are resorting to the same old trick of former PM U Nu's time when KNU was about to run over Rangoon capital 1948, using truce to withdraw their forces from the Shan jungle terrain. As we know the Lady (ASSK) is now released from restriction of movements to allow her to negotiate for peaceful solution by political means. KIA says they must speak to all the five ALLIANCE instead of one at a time."

2. This piece of news is from the Shan Herald Agency for News today.


"Unconfirmed report says Lt-Col Zeya Aung, Commander of Infantry Battalion #22, was court-martialed and sentenced to imprisonment after failing to send reinforcement to troops fighting against the Shan State Army (SSA) in July. It also says Lt-Col Thein Zaw Moe, responsible for road security between Wanzing and Mongnawng, had been court-martialed following ambush of reinforcements led by Lt-Col Win Nyunt late July. According to business sources close to the Burma Army, the campaign against the SSA has not been well-coordinated among the three regional armies: Eastern, Northeastern and Middle East."

3. This is an English translation of the principal points of a 17 August Irrawaddy blog post from ex-Major Aung Lynn Htut.


"1. Than Shwe is still running the show from his home office via two of his confidantes (Soe Shein and Nay Win) and nominal chief of the defense services Gen Min Aung Hlaing. Via his wife Kyaing Kyaing he issues instructions to the USDP party leaders.

2. The current corruption trials against about 6 generals are directly related to the latter's liberal attitude towards the discontented masses.

3. There is so much unhappiness and so low a morale among the rank and file members of the military. Many troops simply refused to fight.

4. The military is failing in every single State objective - public relations domestically, the quality of troops has drastically declined so much so no serious military victory against the active armed resistance groups such as the KIA has been possible; there have mass desertions and widespread defiance on the part of the rank and file troops.

5. The Arab Spring has created a serious psychological impact on the Tatmadaw leadership.

6. All this is related to the regime 'playing nice' with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

7. Daw ASSK needs to be aware of these things, be strategic about her own moves and provide the public with STRATEGIC, not just MORAL, leadership."

This last analysis is completely consistent with the intelligence about the military regime that we at Dictator Watch have been receiving for the last two years.

The Burma Army is in desperate straits. Than Shwe is purging all pro-reform generals. He is also doing everything possible to lure Daw Suu into a trap, to give the appearance that democratic progress is being made and to relieve the pressure on his front-line troops - by acting as if he is being magnanimous dangling the possibility that his units will withdraw, if only the ethnic resistance groups would do the right thing and surrender.

No one should be deceived. Freedom and democracy are closer now that at any time since 1990. Than Shwe's rule is even more fragile than during the Saffron uprising. Everyone must be strong and keep pushing. The tipping point is near. The people of Burma should settle for nothing less than the destruction of the dictatorship and absolute and complete freedom.