Arakan Army escalates insurgency in Rakhine state
Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have been driven from Burma's northern Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh by the Burmese army's brutal "clearance operations," ostensibly launched in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in August 2017. But over the past weeks, the state has seen a new outbreak of attacks—this time by the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine insurgent group opposed to the central government's Burman-centric rule. Ambushes by Arakan Army fighters have targeted both the Burmese army, or Tatmadaw, and the Border Guard Police. Fighting in several townships has left some 2,500 displaced. Last month, the Tatmadaw announced a four-month ceasefire in Burma's north to facilitate peace talks with multiple armed groups fighting for local autonomy, but that announcement excluded Rakhine state. (Asia Times, Al Jazeera)
The Rakhine or Arakanese people share the Buddhist faith with the country's dominant Burmans, but their language is a distinct branch of the Tibeto-Burman langauge group. The Arakan Army is part of a "Northern Alliance" of ethnic militias that have refused a peace deal with the central government at Naypyidaw.