“Is Myanmar the new Syria?” asks Simon Tisdall in The Observer. In 2011 Turkey’s foreign minister made a “mercy dash” to Damascus, backed by the US, appealing to Bashar al-Assad to “stop killing his people”. The Syrian president rejected this and now the country is in ruins, with 500,000 dead and more than 13m displaced. The parallels with Myanmar today “are many and disturbing”. The UN security council is once again split and, just as Russia did in the Middle East, China is playing “a double game”, criticising Myanmar’s generals but blocking sanctions against them. The US and Myanmar’s southeast Asian neighbours have done nothing of substance either.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed and the military is attacking demonstrators with snipers and machineguns. These “uniformed killers and torturers are counting on impunity fuelled by international divisions”. As it stands, they’ll get it, escaping justice just as Assad and his “henchmen” have. In other echoes of Syria, Myanmar’s elected government may form alliances with “battle-hardened ethnic militias” to create an opposing army. And refugees are fleeing to neighbouring countries to escape the violence. Although it failed in 2011, “early intervention remains the best hope of nipping conflict in the bud. How much more horror before we cry ‘enough’?”
Why it matters
Evidence of the regime’s contempt for the West grows stronger by the day. Last weekend General Min Aung Hlaing held a banquet under the stars, during which a swarm of drones painted his portrait across the night sky. At the same time his soldiers were butchering 141 civilians in what was the bloodiest day since the coup on 1 February.
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