Author: Sarah L. Clarke
Published by: Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies (CPCS)
Publication date: December 2016
The Soldier, Above All Others, Prays for Peace: An analysis of the Myanmar armed forces in an era of transition seeks to provide an analysis of the Myanmar armed forces, the Tatmadaw, and, guided by this analysis, to consider a range of strategies and approaches for engagement available to both Myanmar actors and actors engaging in Myanmar from the regional and international levels. The Tatmadaw is one of the key protagonists on the Myanmar stage and in the country’s peace process about which we know the least. It is an institution that has maintained firm control over all politics in the country from 1962 onwards. Today, it remains autonomous in its purview over security issues, and as an actor that has long played a major role in economic affairs, the Tatmadaw is not only central to peacemaking efforts, it also holds a unique position in relation to longer term peacebuilding endeavours in Myanmar. Yet, as an institution, the Tatmadaw remains inaccessible and opaque. Many stakeholders in Myanmar’s current transition find themselves highly constrained in their access to, engagement with, and analysis of this central player. As such, this paper aims to provide a deeper understanding of how the armed forces fits as a central part of the Myanmar puzzle, and the interests and concerns that have, thus far, steered and justified the Tatmadaw’s role in Myanmar politics.