Arakan Army alleges Myanmar junta’s covert support for ARSA

U Khaing Thu Kha, spokesperson for the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA), stated that they are closely observing the Military Council’s moves towards covert support of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a designated terrorist group, as a subsidiary entity to further the interests of the Regime forces, Burma News International reports.

“We are closely watching every situation where they begin using the ARSA card. That’s all I have to say for now”, he told Narinjara.

ARSA recently increased their activities terrorizing the refugee camp in Bangladesh where over 750,00 Rohingya were forced to flee for the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing and genocidal campaign dating back to 2017

Originally residing in the refugee camps in Bangladesh and blending in with the local refugees, ARSA members encountered a crisis as Bangladeshi authorities intensified their identification and arrests. Since June, they have many have secretly returned to Buthidaung and Maungdaw areas, locals and political analysts said.

Furthermore, ARSA members have established positions in military outposts formerly seized by ARSA has engaged in extortion and intimidating Rohingyas and abducting Muslim businesspeople. There have been clashes between AA and ARSA.

A Maungdaw resident with ties to the Military Council revealed that the Regime itself supplies weapons to ARSA and grants them easy movement in and out of the region.  “There have been many unfamiliar faces entering and leaving the area in recent months. According to inside sources, a majority of these individuals have arrived from the Kyeinchaung side  under Military Council control, often through bribes. Some Muslims are being utilized by the Military Council for their own advantage.”, he told Narinjara.

Political analysts have deduced that the resurgent and boldly active ARSA in Rakhine State could be covertly supported by the Military Council, possibly driven by fomenting a divide-and-rule strategy to weaken AA.

Both the local Rakhine population including Rohingya people and other Muslims, are concerned that the Military Council might employ ARSA as a tool to ignite ethnic and religious conflicts once again in the region. U Pe Than, an experienced Rakhine politician, cautioned that both the Rakhine and Muslim communities must exercise caution and avoid getting ensnared in the trap potentially laid by the Military Council.

The analyst continued “All of us Rakhine people need to take this matter seriously. Muslims should also hold an affection for Rakhine State like Buddhist Rakhine ethnics and coexist peacefully, refraining from actions that could cause conflicts. Muslims should also distance themselves from involvement in the activities of ARSA and RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organization). It’s important for all residents of Rakhine State to cherish their homeland and foster a harmonious coexistence. Both Muslims and Rakhines should be cautious to prevent the recurrence of inappropriate incidents and bitter memories of history. We should think ahead and be prepared to avoid being exploited by the Military Council”.

Narinjar attempted to reach out to Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs Minister of Military Council, Colonel Kyaw Thura regarding these concerns, but did not receive a response.

In 2016 and 2017, ARSA initiated unexpected attacks on various border police stations and military outposts in Maungdaw Township, resulting in the deaths of numerous security personnel

At present, with the Military Council’s growing realization that they lack the ability to overcome AA in the Rakhine conflict, there is speculation among political and military analysts that they might be attempting to restore military equilibrium by collaborating with the terrorist organization ARSA.

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