Tatmadaw’s Crackdown on The Rohingyas: A SWOT Analysis

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Tatmadaw’s Crackdown on The Rohingyas: A SWOT Analysis
By Sarwar J. Minar —  Lecturer (Adjunct), Global Studies and Governance, Independent University, Bangladesh.

 The recent Rohingya crisis has drawn intense research attention worldwide lately, but the Tatmadaw’s perspective in the crackdown has not received much attention. Thus, this article analyses Tatmadaw’s perspective on its crackdown decision on the Rohingyas. The article avails SWOT framework (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) for the analysis. The article argues that the Tatmadaw is militarily successful in achieving its goal. However, even though Tatmadaw is successful in the short-term, sustaining it in the long-term or converting military success into political success will be challenging, especially if international community comes into the stage with robust action.

 The Tatmadaw, the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar, militarily attacked the Rohingyas, one of the ethnic communities (not recognized by the Myanmar government) in August 2017. The Tatmadaw brutally cracked down on the Rohingyas – indiscriminately killed, raped and forced out 7 million Rohingya population out of their living place in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

The heavily-armed military with extensive rough-terrain-combat experience annihilated the Rohingyas through a large-scale and massive military attack. The army killed, raped, set the villages on fire in the Rakhine State. In short, the Rohingya people could not even stand in front of the brutal military assault. The military did all that was necessary to drive the Rohingyas out of its territory without any regard of the civilians (They Gave Them Long Swords, 2018). It was a well-planned and coordinated attack (Kurlantzick, 2018). Though there have been insurgency activities in Rakhine State, like other administrative areas of Myanmar, since independence in 1948, this military attack on the Rohingyas became a necessary action at this time as the insurgents recently attacked 30 government targets in August 2017 (e.g., Tatmadaw army bases, police outposts etc.) using small weapons and explosives and the attackers (i.e., ARSA insurgents) were believed to be trained as well (Markusen, 2018). Therefore, the army decided to root out the insurgents from Rakhine State once and for all.

The article analyses Tatmadaw’s perspective of its decision to attack on the Rohingyas. The article proffers a SWOT framework (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) based analysis. The article argues that Tatmadaw is militarily successful in achieving its goal. However, the article further argues that upholding this short-term success in the long-term will be challenging. In other word, converting this military success into long-term political success will be challenging for the Tatmadaw vis a vis the Myanmar government and the future largely depends on the policies adopted by the government in the coming months.

The article is organized into six main parts. Following introduction, second part explains the methodology of this article. Third part briefly introduces SWOT framework and the fourth part applies the framework and explains the Tatmadaw’s rationale /decision to undertake massive military attack on the Rohingyas with four sub-points: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for Tatmadaw. Fifth part presents a brief appraisal and lastly, the sixth part draws conclusion.

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