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Asia Pacific Risk Pulse

Myanmar: Southeast Asia’s Next Frontline of Jihadism?

In November 2020, Myanmar’s first explicitly Salafi-Jihadist militant group, Katibah al-Mahdi fi Bilad al-Arakan, declared jihad against Naypyidaw to avenge the persecution of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military junta. Now, Southeast Asia’s poorest nation grapples with a multidimensional humanitarian catastrophe in the aftermath of the 1 February coup d’état. Myanmar’s spiralling violence and the presence of over a million Rohingya refugees in squalid conditions in neighbouring Bangladesh has created a fertile ground for radicalisation, raising the prospect of a new jihadist front at the crossroads of South and Southeast Asia.

Security Southeast Asia

Hollow Diplomacy: Backlash at ASEAN’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis

As violence between anti-coup protesters and the Tatmadaw regime in Myanmar worsens, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, remains uniquely situated to navigate towards a return to democracy. Their policy of ‘non-interference’, however, restricts the extent to which they can engage the crisis directly. The international attention and responsibility that ASEAN has accrued, with backing from international organisations and countries like the US, poses a risk to their credibility. If they cannot overcome their diplomatic limitations, ASEAN risks appearing ill-equipped to maintain regional peace and security.

International Southeast Asia

Russia and the Myanmar Coup: An Opportunity for Increased Arms Exports

Whereas most countries have condemned the coup in Myanmar, Russia is openly advocating for enhancing military technological cooperation with the military regime. In doing so, Russia seems to see the new military rule as an opportunity to increase its influence in Myanmar whilst boosting its arms exports. This may be a classic example of Moscow’s limited bilateral engagement, seeking financial gain and increased influence whilst preserving their strategic autonomy.

Politics Southeast Asia

Potential Backlash of EU Sanctions for People of Myanmar

Countries around the world have had conflicting responses to the military coup that removed Aung San Suu Kyi and replaced Myanmar’s democratically elected government with the Tatmadaw. While some countries, such as the United States, are choosing to target specific members of this junta, the bloc of nations that comprise the European Union (EU) are considering targeting military businesses with sanctions following the violent crackdown that has left 61 peaceful protesters dead. If the EU places sanctions on these junta affiliated conglomerates, a true quagmire will reveal itself, as the general population in Myanmar will be the most afflicted. 

Security Southeast Asia

Myanmar Coup: a Return to the Dark Ages?

Myanmar is turning its back on a decade of democratization processes whilst facing a nationwide reckoning with its historical ethnic and religious divisions. If the military junta has decided power-sharing is no longer on the table, the choices Myanmar faces are stark.

Economics South and Central Asia

Myanmar is set to embrace Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative

After years of interrupted progression with Chinese-backed projects the Myanmar government has agreed to speed up progress. This signals that relations between China and Myanmar are good and that Myanmar is seeking for the foreign investments it needs to improve its economy.

South and Central Asia

Rohingya clampdown imperils investments, risks fanning radicalism

Myanmar’s brutal crackdown against the minority Rohingya Muslim community has triggered international sanctions casting a shadow over the government’s bid to attract foreign investment from the West.

Asia Pacific Security

No safe haven for Rohingya migrants during monsoon season

Over 700,0000 Rohingya migrants crossed the border after fleeing persecution in Myanmar to Bangladesh where they are threatened by the impending monsoon season.

Asia Pacific Politics

India’s choice between nationalism and influence

The government of India’s attempt to rewrite history to promote Hindu nationalism is only the latest in a series of domestic actions which could have major international consequences and undermine India’s ability to balance China’s growing power.

Politics South and Central Asia

Media crackdown a bad sign for Myanmar

Continued targeting of journalists will compromise the government’s political legitimacy and create greater reputational risks for foreign investors.