David Scott Mathieson
November 2, 2020
Armed conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw, the national army, has escalated sharply in the past two years. This development has been largely eclipsed, however, by the continuing international focus on the human rights crisis of the Rohingya Muslim minority. As this report explains, if this new conflict continues to expand in scope and ferocity, the hope of repatriating Rohingya refugees will recede into the future and the rest of the country will suffer from the increasing violence and destabilization.
In the most serious conflict currently active in Myanmar, the Arakan Army, a Buddhist Rakhine ethnic minority insurgent group, is fighting the Myanmar security forces. This report, commissioned by USIP’s Burma program, explains why any hope for reconciliation and for the safe return of Rohingya refugees will require political negotiation and inclusion of the Arakan Army in the nationwide peace process.
David Scott Mathieson is a Myanmar-based independent analyst working on conflict, peace, humanitarian and human rights issues, and the drug trade. From 2006 to 2016 he was the senior researcher on Myanmar for Human Rights Watch based in Thailand and Myanmar. He has contributed articles to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Irrawaddy, Foreign Policy, and is a regular contributor to Asia Times.