بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِالرَّحِيْمِ
Bismillah ar-rahman ar-raheem
The persecution against the Muslims living in Rakhine State in Myanmar (Burma) has been ongoing for decades, including Operation King Dragon in 1978, the mass immigration to Bangladesh borders during 1991-1992, the Rakhine state riots in 2012, the 969 Movement in 2013 led by extreme Buddhist monk Wirathu and the last 4 years of heavy brutality by the Myanmar military. It is important for us to ask the question, why has the issue been brought to the forefront now? It has been under the radar for quite some time but recently it has been given prominence in mainstream media, news and social media, which has led to many charity organisations being set up and many prominent leaders of nations speaking out against the Burmese military.
So why now?
As I’ve mentioned many times before, one should always question when the media decides to bring a topic to the forefront. Is this real compassion for the Muslims of Myanmar? Or is there a greater plan for Myanmar?
Firstly, we can see that the relationship between China and Myanmar is historically close. They name each other “paukphaw” which is the Myanmar word for sibling or intimate. This term is only used for the Chinese by the Burmese and it highlights the closeness of the Sino-Myanmar relationship. China’s ties with the military junta ruling Myanmar goes deep, and it includes expanding trade links, the sale of military hardware and diplomatic support.
The recent appointment of Aung San Suu Kyi, widely known as America’s preferred candidate for the presidency has proven that there is a struggle between China and the US to dominate Myanmar. She gained her reputation through being the worlds most prominent political prisoner as she was under house arrest for 15 years and presented the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights in 2011. Little did anyone know that her image had been heavily funded by the US through agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy and George Soros’ Open Society and highlighted explicitly in the DFID Burma Report of 2006.
It is still the case that China is one of the chief partners of the Burmese regime in the project to renovate and expand Sittwe Seaport in Rakhine and has recently in 2017 received rights to develop and exploit the natural gas reserves there, where the majority of the Rohingya Muslims reside. China is hoping to unlock the $1.5 billion oil pipeline that has been sitting empty for two years to pump 260,000 barrels per day into landlocked Yunnan province. This new oil gateway fits with China’s “One Belt One Road” ambitions as it provides a more direct alternative route to sending Middle Eastern oil via the crowded Strait of Malacca.
Myanmar is critical for China as a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean as the Yunnan province of China is landlocked bordering Myanmar. In order for China to revive its Silk Road policy that connects China to Bangladesh, India and finally into Europe, it needs Myanmar as its “land bridge”. The “One Road One Belt” policy by China potentially threatens the US due to its potential to make China the strongest economy in the world and overtake the US in trade.
How has the Chinese influence been curbed?
The appointment of Aung San Suu Kyi was a major turning point in US-Myanmar relations as well as a blow to China as mentioned previously due to her explicit links to America. It was said in 2006 that “It is worth noting that there is little the West can do directly to remove Myanmar’s junta, and sanctions are proving to be ineffective.” Hence, with US agent Aung San Suu Kyi now President it is seen as a turning point in the power struggle between the US and China for domination of Myanmar. Although, it wasn’t just this appointment that has swung influence in Washington’s direction but rather the many years of covert funding through the auspices of Democracy, Human Rights and Freedoms. Pro-democracy groups in Myanmar have gained prominence due to the millions of dollars of funding from US “non-governmental” agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society.
The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs stated on October 30, 2003:
“The restoration of democracy in Burma is a priority U.S. policy objective in Southeast Asia. To achieve this objective, the United States has consistently supported democracy activists and their efforts both inside and outside Burma. The United States also supports organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities. U.S.-based broadcasters supply news and information to the Burmese people, who lack a free press. U.S. programs also fund scholarships for Burmese who represent the future of Burma. The United States is committed to working for a democratic Burma and will continue to employ a variety of tools to assist democracy activists.”
A quick trawl of funding provided by NED on their website is evidence of the millions of dollars going into pro-democracy activism, building huge media platforms promoting the US agenda and highlighting the plight of the Rohingya Muslims as an excuse for international intervention.
Resources in Rakhine State
Since 2014 the National Endowment for Democracy has been funding a project titled “Documenting and Raising Awareness on Resource Extraction in Arakan (Rakhine) State”. This is further evidence that the US is interested in the resources found in the Rakhine Basin. Research by “Search and Discovery” proves that Rakhine Basin has a huge amount of gas reserves untapped. Hence, China’s eagerness to build a seaport in Sittwe as well as their annoyance in how long it has taken to start extracting the resources for Yunnan province.
The pipeline will have an eventual capacity of 400,000 bpd, about 5 percent of China’s daily import demand, but the start-up of the Yunnan refinery has been held up as PetroChina and Myanmar negotiated final terms for delivering the oil.
The article adds:
“There are open questions about the economics and future cooperation with Myanmar, given the repeated delays and under-utilization,” noted a senior PetroChina official
This would not be the first time the U.S has meddled in Myanmar to halt Chinese ambitions to extract resources. In 2011, the Myitsone Dam project was suspended. This dam aimed to provide China 6000 megawatts of electricity, mainly for the bordering Yunnan province. It was suspended due to civil unrest but later found that the unrest was actually funded by the US covertly.
The situation in Myanmar is a rare case of where the West look to be seemingly helping the Muslims by providing aid and support against the aggressor, namely the Burmese army. We have to remember that both America’s and China’s creed is capitalism and both are looking to capitalise on Myanmar at the expense of the other. Both China and America have a common enemy which is Islam and the Muslims but occasionally they will struggle against each other, especially when America is encroaching on China’s influence and territory.
America wishes to maintain its hegemony over the rest of the world through all means necessary. She has always used the excuse of defending minorities to gain access and support in order to fulfill her ambitions in dominating the world.
By exposing the Myanmar army, it allows America and her allies in the region to pursue “freedom and peace” for minorities, but rather, this is just a smokescreen for intervention to either create permanent or temporary military bases, disrupting aspiring nations such as China, stealing the resources for themselves, reforming the Burmese army to give more authority and power to Aung San Suu Kyi, or even creating proxy-terror groups using disgruntled Rohingya Muslims to destabilise China which would give the Americans a trump card over China in any future negotiations on global issues. One could potentially argue who set up the recent “terror” group in Rakhine State which the Burmese army was said to be fighting, and how did they get hold of military grade weaponry when they are one of the poorest and suppressed people in the world – this inevitably led to the sudden media outcry.
However, the timing is key. The work on Myitsone Dam had continued secretly since 2011 despite the suspension and the pipelines taking gas from Rakhine to Yunnan were to go live in 2017.
Muslims should not be fooled by their crocodile tears for the Rohingya Muslims. If they cared at all, they would have halted the genocide a long time ago. As Muslims, we should be exposing the plots and plans of the Capitalist West and not be duped by their humanitarian work. They wish to occupy our time, resources and effort in futile activities so that we do not work for a real solution that could bring about real change and protect the Muslims of Burma permanently. Charity organisations have never solved political crises before and it will not suddenly solve them now. In fact, all it will do is distract Muslims from working for the real solution that can bring about change. This is not to say we shouldn’t give Sadaqah to Muslims in need but it should be coupled with working for the solution, not at the expense of it.