The ethnic armed organizations and other resistance groups in Myanmar have made significant gains against the country’s military dictatorship in 2023. “Operation 1027,” launched by the Three Brotherhood Alliance in northern Shan state in October, was a surprising success. Together with the efforts of local People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) and ethnic armed groups in Kayah, Kayin, Chin, and Kachin states, anti-junta forces have put the ruling military junta on the defensive. The junta lost hundreds of outposts as rebel forces captured towns and several key border crossings in November and December. This suggests that the tide could be turning in the country’s civil war, which erupted after the military overthrew a democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup d’etat.
“The military council suffered great losses in 2023, while the people’s revolution has stepped forward gradually,” said Kyaw Zaw, spokesman for the shadow National Unity Government (NUG). “It is the victory of the people.”
The number of junta troops surrendering to resistance forces has increased after Operation 1027 began. Reports of junta units submitting to resistance forces have continued over the last two months.
Local ethnic armies and officials from the NUG, which is mostly made up of former civilian government leaders, have been setting up interim administrative bodies in areas they control. In other areas of the country, resistance leaders have started to think about what Myanmar would look like if the junta was defeated.
In western Myanmar, armed ethnic Chin groups have also gone on the offensive since October. After launching Operation 1027, the resistance forces controlled about nine outposts while the military troops abandoned about 12 camps. The Chin National Front established Chinland — Chin state’s new name – following the approval of a new constitution.
In eastern Myanmar, ethnic Karenni forces launched Operation 11.11 – their own version of Operation 1027 – in November, seizing at least nine military outposts in Kayah state. Resistance forces in Kayah state set up an Interim Executive Council (IEC) to put in place local administrations at village, village-tract, and township levels.
In adjacent Kayin state, the Karen National Union (KNU) battled junta troops while preparing a draft constitution.