What’s new? On 15 August, an alliance of ethnic armed groups staged coordinated attacks against strategic targets in northern Myanmar. The offensive left up to fifteen people dead, and clashes reportedly continue in the northern part of Shan State, creating concerns for civilians’ safety.
Why did it happen? The three ethnic armed groups behind the attacks have been largely excluded from the peace process for the past five years. In recent months, the government has proposed bilateral ceasefires to the groups but has set unrealistic demands and accompanied the offers with military pressure.
Why does it matter? The attacks mark a serious escalation in Shan State’s conflict. They represent a rejection of bilateral ceasefire terms that the Myanmar government has proposed to the armed groups. While the Myanmar military has not yet responded with significant force, the brunt of mounting violence will inevitably fall on civilians.
What should be done? Both the Myanmar military and the armed groups should exercise restraint, allow humanitarian agencies to safely provide assistance and pursue ceasefire talks. The military and government should review their earlier ceasefire proposal, while China should continue to use its influence in Myanmar to encourage an end to the fighting.