Quo vadis Myanmar’s political governance and its impact on national security and regional stability?

An Intelligence Assessment Report till 2025

Term Paper, 2023

26 Pages, Grade: A-











1. The report seeks to apprise the Intelligence Service Coordinator of the German Federal Chancellery of 1) the trajectory of Myanmar’s (MMR’s) POLITICAL SYSTEM till 2025 and
2) the potential impacts on MMR’s NATIONAL SECURITY and Southeast Asia’s REGIONAL STABILITY.


2. POLITICAL SYSTEM. With HIGH CONFIDENCE and a PROBABILITY ESTIMATE OF > 80%, the analysis of unclassified/ open-source intelligence (OSINT) indicators suggests that MMR’s military-led “State Administrative Council” will have established an authoritarian regime by 2025 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Analysis of Competing Hypotheses

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: the author, modified from Pherson & Heuer, 2021, p. 162)

3. NATIONAL SECURITY. With HIGH CONFIDENCE, the report projects HIGH RISKS for MMR’s domestic stability when considering a protracted civil war that comes with the
a) deterioration of the security environment and citizens/ethnicities’ safety, b) unimpeded breach of constitutional and human rights, c) destruction of critical infrastructure, and d) extended economic hardship and suffering for internally displaced people.

4. REGIONAL STABILITY. With HIGH CONFIDENCE, the analysis identifies SHORT-TERM RISKS in the following areas of concern that require constant monitoring of relevant indicators: a) the breach of territorial integrity and disruption of bilateral trade routes of MMR’s neighbors caused by the military junta’s stray attacks, b) the surge of international refugee numbers, and c) the establishment of transnational crime and drug trafficking in the bordering areas. With MEDIUM/LOW CONFIDENCE, the report projects two MEDIUM-/LONG-TERM RISKS: a) the evolution of a proxy power struggle between the US, China, and Russia, and b) the potential growth of China’s energy imports through MMR and concurrent decrease through the South China Sea (SCS) as an opportunity to intensify China’s assertive behavior in the SCS without risking negative impacts on its energy imports.


5. Coup d’état. On 1 Feb 2021, the “Tatmadaw” (MMR’s Armed Forces) conducted an unconstitutional coup to oust the democratically elected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Afterward, the decade-long democratic liberalization process slipped into a generalized civil war between the military-led “State Administrative Council” and the legitimacy-claiming “National Unity Government”, incl. their respective allies (HICCR, 2022, Hein, 2023, Kelvin, 2023).

6. Negative Impacts. The consequences on major meta-political/ -economical/ -security index rankings and indicators were all out negative, though also fueled by COVID-19:

a. Bertelsmann Transform. Index 2020 (#121) à 2022 (#122 out of 137) (BTI, 2020, 2022),
b. Global Peace Index 2020 (#127) à 2022 (#139 out of 163) (IEP, 2020, 2022),
c. Fragile States Index 2020 (#22) à 2022 (#10 out of 179) (FSI, 2023),
d. Lowy Institute Asia Power Index 2020 (#20) à 2022 (#22 out of 26) (LI, 2023),
e. The Myanmar Conflict Map (Ø 67 violent events per month between Jul 2020 and Jan 2021 à Ø 822 violent events per month between Feb 2021 and Mar 2023) (IISS, 2023),

Additionally, reports estimate approx. 1,5 million internally displaced people, 85,000 international refugees, 17,500 political prisoners, and between 3,400 to 30,000 people killed (UNHCR, 2023, AAPP, 2023, Mukhopadhaya, 2023a, Moo & Hei, 2023). Moreover, socio-religious harmony and cultural cohesion studies suggest a downward spiral that affected most of the 135 different ethnicities in the same timeframe (FSI, 2023, CG, 2020, US DoS, 2021, USCoIRF, 2022).

7. State Administrative Council (SAC). After the coup, the military junta, under the leadership of Senior General Hlaing, installed a state of emergency rule of law for one year and unconstitutionally prolonged it thrice till August 2023 (Hein, 2023, Koh, 2023, Davies, 2022). Also, he increased the number of townships with declared martial law to 198 out of 330 (Sajid, 2023). With that, Hlaing nullified confidence-building measures during his Independence Day speech in 2023 with promised pardons for ca. 7000 political prisoners and general elections in Aug 2023 (AP, 2023). Instead, the junta continues to fight the opposition to restore domestic security and regain territorial/ population control (Figure 2, Mukhopadhaya, 2023a, Koh, 2023, HRC, 2023). The main strategic interest of the SAC is to preserve the military’s central role in domestic politics via its military proxy party and to silence opposition by gerrymandering the political system and elections (HRC, 2023). The latter will potentially be held under the auspices of a military-led transition council in 2025 and are already qualified as a sham (Irrawaddy, 2023, TST, 2023a, HRC, 2023). Before that, the SAC seeks to complete a “national census” of MMR’s almost 58 million people during October 2024 (TST, 2023a, CIA, 2023).

Figure 2: Territorial Control & Armed Incidents

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: HRC, 2023, p. 4)

8. Union Solidarity & Development Party (USDP). The military proxy party underwent a heavy defeat in the 2020 elections (HRC, 2023). Under the current leadership of Brigadier General (ret.) U Khin Yi, the key role of the USDP is twofold (Irrawaddy, 2022a). First, the party has to ensure a victorious election campaign for the general elections as a prerequisite to installing prime minister Hlaing as president (ibid.). Second, he oversees the forging and maintaining of political alliances (ibid., BNI, 2023).

9. National Unity Government (NUG). The opposition gathers around the parallel civilian NUG under their acting president Duwa Lashi (Kelvin, 2022, NUG, 2023a, HRC, 2023).
It includes remnants of the National League for Democracy (NLD) of former foreign minister and state counselor Suu Kyi, various minor parties, own ministries, incl. administrative bodies, and security/ defense forces (NUG, 2023b). In terms of NUG’s strategic interests, it aims to defeat the military junta and prosecute them for civil war crimes before the International Criminal Court (Jacob & Staunton, 2022, NUG, 2023a). Moreover, it aims to win the general elections and establish a federal union structure and federal government (Kelvin, 2022). Yet, the NLD and 39 other pro-democratic opposition parties were dissolved by the end of March 2023 due to failing to reregister according to the SAC’s new electoral law (NUG, 2023a, Reuters, 2023a).

10. Ethnic Resistance Organizations (EROs). The EROs primarily constitute the armed wings of (not all) ethnical, political opposition parties representing about one third of MMR’s population (Ong, 2021, Hein, 2022b). Among the country’s 37 active EROs/ 12 major EROs are three broad categories (Figure 3, Wikipedia, 2023, Hein, 2022b). The first category is aligned with the NUG and actively fights for its purpose (e.g., “Chin National Front”, “Lahu Democratic Union”) (ibid., n.p.). A second category comprising 9 EROs is conducting “peace talks” with the SAC and signed a ceasefire agreement (e.g., “Karen National Union”, “Pa-O National Liberation Organization”, “Shan State Progress Party”) (ibid., Wansai, 2022b, n.p.). The third category is the strongest and still non-aligned (Hein, 2022b). Perceived by the NUG and SAC as “kingmakers”, its members concentrate on complete autonomy [e.g., Arakan Army as a member of the “Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC)”] or prefer the strengthening of their “quasi-independence” within a “confederal” governance system (e.g., 6 remaining ERO members of FPNCC) (Hein, 2022b, p. 1, 9, 13, 15). In any case, this does not exclude that these actors fight against the SAC or occasionally support the NUG (Hein, 2022b, Loong, 2022a).

Figure 3: Major EROs

illustration not visible in this excerpt

(Source: Kapur, 2022, n.p.)


illustration not visible in this excerpt

11. Establish Authoritarian Regime (H1). Till the end of Q3 2025, the SAC will further protract emergency rule/ martial law, continue its violent counterinsurgency strategy, stall the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2669 (Hamid, 2023), and refrain from sending confidence-building signals or preparing general elections. As of Q4 2025, observers might see the SAC’s restored control over 75% of the territory and successfully concluded peace talks with major EROs. Corrupted by significant economic and semi-autonomy concessions, these EROs would then play along with establishing an authoritarian military junta regime that bridges back to almost 50 years of military rule (Maizland, 2022). With a redraft of the constitution stemming from 2008, the regime would cement its power grip on MMR without the requirement to hold sham elections until all EROs surrendered their weapons.

12. Strive for Federal Union (H2). The storyline suggests the conduct of general elections by the end of Q3 2025. Prior, the SAC’s further loss of territorial control and increasing pressure to find an exit strategy to secure the regime’s survival would convince the regime to accept ASEAN-facilitated negotiations with the NUG. These would allow closing a truce, releasing political prisoners, permitting unconstrained humanitarian support, agreeing on a federal republic/ confederation model, and political reforms. The model would represent “the current seven ethnic states, a newly created Bamar state, and possibly new states for the Wa and other ethnic groups in Shan State” with equal power (Martin, 2022, n.p.). A central government would possess only limited power (ibid.). Yet, in acknowledging the military’s political influence and control over the election administration as well as its ability to stage a coup at any time after the elections (Moo & Hei, 2023), the NUG would have to make concessions in terms of granting a general amnesty for civil war crimes to all SAC representatives.

13. Process of Balkanization (H3). By accepting the realities of MMR as a failed state with neither the SAC nor the NUG being able to exert full power and control by the end of 2025, the EROs in the north/ north-west will gain traction to fill the vacuum (South, 2023, Vasisth, 2022). In particular, they would further strengthen their administrative and political infrastructure to increase their political autonomy and provide public services and goods to the ethnicities in the region (Martin, 2023a). The reason would lie in the fact that these NRO feel neither attracted to nor trust the NUG’s and SAC’s vision for the future governance of MMR as they both represent the majority Bamar ethnicity (approx. 68%) (Hein, 2022b, pp. 15, 26, CIA, 2023, Hlaing, 2023, Mukhopadhaya, 2023b, Abuza, 2022). Hence, analysts might witness MMR’s beginning fragmentation process with the first formal secession and declaration of a state government by the Arakan Army in the north-western Rakhine State as of Q4 2025 (Martin, 2022, Moo & Hei, 2023, Hlaing, 2023). This first-mover impetus could then motivate Chin and Karen states to follow (Martin, 2022).


Excerpt out of 26 pages


Quo vadis Myanmar’s political governance and its impact on national security and regional stability?
An Intelligence Assessment Report till 2025
Nanyang Technological University  (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS))
Intelligence in Peace & War
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
Very exhaustive research, giving the paper an empirical richness that makes it difficult to find fault with the assessments that were made. It is evident that the author has a high-level of competence in the underpinning concepts. The prose was simple and therefore effective in communicating the points with maximum clarity.
Intelligence Assessment, Myanmar, Analysis of Competing Hypothesis
Quote paper
Dr. phil. Mathias Jahn (Author), 2023, Quo vadis Myanmar’s political governance and its impact on national security and regional stability?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1359671


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