Three Brotherhood Alliance Seizes Strategic Trading Hub In Myanmar, Escalating Conflict Against Military Junta

The recent seizure of Namhsan marks a significant development in the conflict, as the town is strategically important for trade with China. This follows China’s announcement of a temporary ceasefire between the alliance and the Myanmar military on Thursday, indicating an attempt at mediation.

As tensions persist, ethnic minority fighters in Myanmar claimed the capture of a key trading hub in Shan state on Saturday, 16th December. The Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), collectively known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance, have been engaged in a joint offensive since late October, challenging the military junta that seized power in 2021.

The recent seizure of Namhsan marks a significant development in the conflict, as the town is strategically important for trade with China. This follows China’s announcement of a temporary ceasefire between the alliance and the Myanmar military on Thursday, indicating an attempt at mediation. Despite sporadic periods of calm in areas held by the MNDAA, clashes persist in regions controlled by the TNLA and the AA.

Brigadier-General Tar Bhone Kyaw of the TNLA confirmed the capture of Namhsan, stating, “We got the town.” Video footage posted on Facebook by the TNLA showed leaders of the alliance in the town, engaging with junta soldiers who were reportedly taken prisoner.

Myanmar’s army spokesperson, Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, acknowledged the ongoing fighting around fighting around Namhsan, emphasizing the fluid nature of the conflict. Additionally, the TNLA claimed the capture of the 105-mile Trade Zone, a vital trading conduit on the border with China in Muse township, Shan state. The loss of such crucial border hubs poses a significant challenge to the junta’s control over trade routes.

Since the alliance’s offensive began on October 27, they assert having seized 422 military bases and seven towns from Myanmar’s army. The conflict has intensified in the northern Shan state and triggered a broader impact, leading to displacement. According to the United Nations, over half a million people have been forced to flee their homes as clashes spread to the east and west of Myanmar.

The alliance’s actions have posed a military challenge to the junta and galvanized other opponents, leading to a widening of the conflict across the country. 

As the conflict continues, the effectiveness of China’s attempted mediation through a temporary ceasefire remains uncertain, and the region faces an uncertain future as stakeholders navigate the complex dynamics of Myanmar’s evolving political landscape.