Rohingya Militants Launch Co-Ordinated Offensive in Myanmar's Rakhine State

Rohingya Muslim militants under the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched a co-ordinated offensive on around 30 police checkpoints on 25 August 2017, resuming a campaign against security forces that first began on 9 October 2016. The attacks were notable for the large units that conducted them, indicating a core strength of up to 1,000...
A screen shot from a video released on 15 August 2017, showing Abu Ammar Junjuni, the commander of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and four of his followers. The Myanmar government declared the group a terrorist organisation on 25 August. Source: Jane's
  • Rohingya Muslim militants under the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched a co-ordinated offensive on around 30 police checkpoints on 25 August 2017, resuming a campaign against security forces that first began on 9 October 2016.
  • The attacks were notable for the large units that conducted them, indicating a core strength of up to 1,000 militants and widespread support among the local Rohingya population, as well as the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • ARSA is hoping to impose pressure on the Myanmar government by attracting international attention to the persecution of Rohingya, but indicators suggest that this is unlikely to be successful and the Myanmar army will respond with at times indiscriminate force as seen in late 2016.

Following months of training and preparation, Rohingya Muslim militants have launched an unprecedented wave of attacks across the northern townships of Rakhine state on Myanmar’s western seaboard, threatening to push the region into wider conflict and possibly escalating communal clashes. The clearly well-synchronised attacks, which unfolded in the early hours of 25 August, revealed a notably high level of tactical organisation and co-ordination on the part of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group, which promptly claimed responsibility for the offensive.

A composite image and pro-government message circulated on social media, allegedly showing arson committed by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants in Rakhine state’s Maungdaw town. (Jane's)
A composite image and pro-government message circulated on social media, allegedly showing arson committed by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants in Rakhine state’s Maungdaw town. (Jane's)

The evident capabilities of the group – which has promised further military action – and the widespread support from the ethnic Rohingya population it appears to command suggest that in the short term at least the perennially-overstretched Myanmar armed forces, or Tatmadaw, will be hard pressed to restore a semblance of control over the majority-Muslim townships of Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Rathedaung in Rakhine state. Following months of targeted killings of Muslims deemed to be collaborating with the state and an accelerated exodus of Rakhine Buddhists from communally mixed villages as tensions escalated ahead of the new offensive, civil administration under the Ministry of Home Affairs' General Administration Department (GAD) has already effectively broken down.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact

Source: www.janes.com