Myanmar has been named as one of 10 global conflicts to watch on a list compiled by the International Crisis Group that refers to threats to the peace process and the plight of Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar was ranked 8th on the list, published with a commentary by Mr Jean-Marie Guehenno, the president and chief executive of the London-based think-tank, in US magazine Foreign Policy on January 5.
The list of the “world’s most volatile flashpoints” is jointly headed by Syria and Iraq, followed by Turkey and Yemen. Myanmar is listed between Afghanistan and Ukraine, and Mexico is last.
Recent fighting in Myanmar had jeopardised efforts to end nearly 70 years of armed conflict, Guehenno wrote, noting that the government headed by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had promised peace and national reconciliation as its top priorities.
He referred to military escalation following the “unprecedented” joint attacks in November by the four armed groups in the Northern Alliance on targets in and around the border trading town of Muse.
“This does not bode well for progress at the next session of the 21st-Century Panglong Conference slated for February,” Guehenno said.
“Meanwhile, the fate of the Muslim Rohingya minority is drawing renewed international concern,” he said, referring to the violence in Rakhine State since militants launched deadly attacks on police posts near the border with Bangladesh in early October.
“Security forces hit back hard in a campaign that made little distinction between militants and civilians, with allegations of extrajudicial executions, rapes, and arson,” Guehenno said.
“Although the Rohingya have never been a radicalised population, the government’s heavy-handed military response increases the risk of spiralling violence.
“Grievances could be exploited by transnational jihadis attempting to pursue their own agendas, which would inflame religious tensions across the majority Buddhist country.”
The other flashpoints on the list are Greater Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.