Rivalry and Cooperation: Military Rule on The Thai-Burmese Border
For much of the past fifty years, the border region surrounding the Thai and Burmese towns of Mae Sot and Myawaddy has been ruled by the military. The two countries which share this border, Thailand and Burma, have a long history of military rule. In addition, the indigenous people of the region, the Karen, have been conducting a decades-long insurrection against the Burmese government. Since the 1960s, all of the Karen military groups have been headquartered in this region. Ethnic politics in the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border region is therefore the politics of the military. Within this framework, both rivalry and cooperation are apparent. The balance of power between different Karen armed groups has shifted, and each group has made alliances and fought armed conflicts with both the state armies of Thailand and Burma and with other Karen armed groups. Since the 1990s, the trend has shifted towards greater cooperation, as the rise of Southeast Asia as a major economic region has motivated the armed groups of the Thai-Burmese border to work together to improve the region’s economy.
Key Words- Thailand, Burma, borders, military rule, politics, cooperation