Tønnesson, Stein; Ne Lynn Aung & Marte Nilsen (2019) Will Myanmar’s Northern Alliance Join the Peace Process?, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.

As of February 2019, Myanmar’s Northern Alliance (NA) is a key player in the country’s armed conflicts. Prodded by China, the Myanmar government has engaged in informal talks with the NA’s four members, who are part of a broader political alliance: the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC).

On 21 December 2018, the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) declared a four-month unilateral ceasefire in the areas where three of the four NA armies operate. Yet the army is engaged in a major counter-insurgency operation against the fourth member: the Arakan Army (AA), who carried out a surprise attack against Border Guard Police in Rakhine State on 4 January.

On 5 February 2019, Facebook closed down the accounts of the Northern Alliance and its members, calling them “dangerous organisations”. What is the Northern Alliance? Can its members become full participants in Myanmar’s peace process?

Brief Points

  • The Northern Alliance (NA) is a coalition of four armed groups.
  • In 2017, its members joined a seven-member political alliance (FPNCC).
  • The NA’s cohesion is put to the test in 2019 as the government cracks down on one of its members, the Arakan Army (AA).
  • China and Myanmar have agreed to build an Economic Corridor from Yunnan to the Bay of Bengal as part of China’s Belt & Road Initiative.
  • The stability of the Economic Corridor would benefit from peace between the Myanmar government and the Northern Alliance.
Tønnesson, Aung, Nilsen - Will Myanmar’s Northern Alliance Join the Peace Process, PRIO Policy Brief 2-2019