Political Risk Analysis - Rakhine Issue Poses New Risks To Regional Security - DEC 2017

BMI View: The violence in Myanmar ' s northern Rakhine state has broader security implications for the region and poses risks to ASEAN unity , as various nations within the bloc adopt different stances towards Myanmar's handling of the issue.

Violence has once again flared up in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state following the attacks by Rohingya insurgents on police posts and an army base in August. The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group numbering around 1.1mn in Myanmar, which is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country. The Myanmar government does not recognise the Rohingya as one of the country's 135 ethnic groups and instead considers them to be 'Bengali' foreigners, essentially leaving them stateless. Although violence in Rakhine is sporadic, the most recent attacks have led to harsh reprisals by the military (Tatmadaw) and have resulted in a steady stream of refugees across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. This has resulted in broader security implications for the region, with the resurgence of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the ongoing battles between government forces and Islamist rebels in Marawi in the Philippines raising the threat of terrorism in South East Asia. In response to the alleged ill-treatment of the Rohingya Muslims by the Tatmadaw, various extremist organisations such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) have urged their adherents to take up arms in defence of the Rohingya, leading to the possibility of Rakhine becoming a breeding ground for extremism. Furthermore, the differing reactions to Myanmar's response within ASEAN poses downside risks to the bloc's unity and consensus-driven approach, as it seeks to find the best solution to deal with the Rakhine issue.

Summary Of Recent Clashes

A New Flashpoint In Asia
Myanmar - Rakhine State
Source: BMI, alaraby.co.uk

This article is part of our Global Macro Monitor coverage. To access this article subscribe now or sign up for free trial