Why does Myanmar shield northeast terror groups?

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Myanmar's cooperation with India to launch an offensive against militants is a welcome move. However the bigger question that needs to be asked is why does Myanmar harbour these militants from North East in the first place? [Manipur attack: Why nabbing militant leader Khaplang is important]

The issue of Mynamar providing a safe haven for these terrorists is not a recent issue, but the same has been reported since the past 20 years. Terrorists stay over along the bordering areas of Myanmar, carry out attacks in India and then get back. [Interview: Why Myanmar operation can't be replicated in Pakistan]


The other issue is regarding the demands of the militants from North East. They have a flurry of demands which include the establishment of Greater Nagaland. However the primary agenda has been to disrupt peace and it is no secret that they are doing so at the behest of external forces who have housed their leaders at the Yunnan province.

Why does Myanmar provide shelter to militants?

Speaking to several officers both in the army and also the Intelligence Bureau one gets the picture that Myanmar does not really have much control over the issue. The fact that most of these militants are aided by the Chinese is one reason why Myanmar does not say much on the issue.

The other issue is that Myanmar does not have a strong army to combat these militants. Most militant groups have made the border of the country their home. Some of these militant camps are difficult for the Myanmar army to track. Myanmar has not been effective in dealing with these camps on their own soil.

However there are also many in the Myanmar establishment who are sympathetic towards the cause of the militants. Such persons ensure that these militants are given a safe haven and this is something that has been happening since the past 2 decades.

Moles in the Myanmar army:

The Indian army does not trust the Myanmar army. The Myanmar army has been particular soft towards the outfit, NSCN(K) which claimed responsibility for the attack in Manipur in which 18 soldiers were killed.

The NSCN (K) is an outfit which was started with the blessings of the Myanmar army. In fact the leader of this outfit, S S Khaplang is a Myanmar national. He has made Taga in Myanmar his operational base. However he very often shuttles between Taga and the Yunnan province in China.

Intelligence Bureau officials in India say that the Chinese are particularly sympathetic towards Khaplang and this is another factor that has helped his outfit NSCN(K) grow.

The power of money:

Intelligence Bureau officials say that the lure of money is yet another factor that keeps the Myanmar army quiet. The NSCN(K) has plenty of money at its disposal thanks to funding it receives from various nations. They have chosen high ranking officials in the Myanmar army who are paid off. The bribes that the NSCN(K) offers to these army officials in Myanmar is another factor that helps the outfit.

The NSCN(K) also ensures that none of its cadres carry out any attacks on the Myanmar security forces. While there were instances of trouble between the NSCN(K) and the Myanmar army that issue was laid to rest when a cease fire agreement was signed. Around three years back the NSCN(K) and the Myanmar army held out the olive branch and signed a cease fire agreement.

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