To identify the factors responsible for the emergence of militarism in Myanmar and Sudan
To examine the role of ethnonationalism and religious extremism in Destabilising the political system in Myanmar and Sudan
To assess the adverse impacts of military rule on balanced civil-military relations
To analyse the need to consolidate democracy and strengthen political institutions
● Review of existing detailed and updated data sets
● Representation through visualization models
● Secondary data review
An in-depth comparative analysis of military rule in Sudan and Myanmar reveals the complex interplay of factors that have contributed to the emergence of militarism in both countries, including ethnonationalism, religious extremism, and a fragile political system.
Sudan’s military, Ethnic Minority groups, a pro-democracy shadow government, civilians, migration
The detrimental effects of military rule on civil-military relations underscore the urgent need for consolidating democracy and strengthening political institutions to ensure stability and sustainable development in these nations.
This paper examines the emergence of militarism and its impact on political systems in Myanmar and Sudan. Both countries have experienced prolonged periods of military rule, civil conflict, and struggles for democratic governance. Myanmar's history has been marked by military coups, civil war, and the recent military takeover in February 2021. Despite decades of military dominance, Myanmar has witnessed a persistent struggle for democracy and a return to civilian rule.
Similarly, Sudan has faced numerous military coups and conflicts, leading to protracted armed violence and internal displacement. The country's political landscape has been marred by military interference and weak coalition governments, resulting in a fragile democratic process.
In Myanmar, the military coup of 2021 was triggered by allegations of election fraud, leading to widespread protests and opposition. The military's historical involvement in politics and society has disrupted the democratic process and raised concerns about the loss of democracy and the return to authoritarian rule.
In Sudan, armed conflicts between the northern elites and southern regions have caused significant casualties and displacement. The country's geopolitical importance and involvement of regional and global actors have hindered a successful transition to civilian-led government and sustainable development.
This paper analyzes the role of the military in Myanmar and Sudan's political and social dynamics, examining the nature of military rule and its impact on the democratic process. It also explores the challenges faced by both nations in their pursuit of stability, peace, and democratic governance amid persistent militarism.
The study highlights the need for effective conflict mediation and external intervention to address the root causes of militarism and support a peaceful transition towardtowards democratic governance. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of building legitimate institutions that counteract authoritarian narratives and promote lasting peace.
Keywords: Militarism, Military Rule, Democracy, Myanmar, Sudan, Conflict Mediation, Democratic Governance.
Throughout its decades of independence, Myanmar has struggled with military rule, civil war, poor governance, and widespread poverty. A military coup in February 2021 dashed hopes for democratic reforms in the Southeast Asian nation. Myanmar has now entered a violent new chapter. The military, known as the Tatmadaw, faces widespread, fierce opposition from ethnic armed organizations it was fighting even before the coup and ordinary citizens who organized militias. Vowing to resist the military junta, former lawmakers and activists formed a shadow government and mobilized fighting forces across the country. The military has responded with a brutal crackdown on opposition forces and protesters. HoweverBut it still has not been able to consolidate control over large areas of the country, and experts warn that violence is all but certain to escalate .
Sudan is at the epicentre of one of the world’s most dynamic arms markets. Protracted armed conflicts throughout the Horn of Africa have generated chronic armed violence and rates of internal displacement and refugee flows, among the highest on record. There appears to be a robust association between arms availability and persistent insecurity in the region that has contributed to the militarization of its communities and the prolongation of many ongoing cross-border and internal conflicts. Of the 67 years since independence in 1956, Sudan has been under military rule for 25 of them. In the five multi-party elections since independence, no party has ever won a majority. Sudanese democracy, then, has been marked by a series of weak, coalition governments. The armed forces, representing themselves as an “impartial national institution,” overthrew democratically elected governments, banned political parties, and held power from 1958-1964 under Gen. Ibrahim ‘Abboud, from 1969-1985 under Gen. Ja‘far Numayri, and since 1989 under Lt. Gen. Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir, who overthrew an elected government on June 30, 1989, had a background typical of his fellow army officers — training in Egypt and the US, and service in the south fighting the civil war.
The coup preempted a meeting on July 4, 1989, which was to finalize plans for a September 18 peace conference. This conference might have made real progress on ending the civil war. In the two years since the Bashir regime took power, it has become evident that the coup was fully backed and perhaps inspired by the political organization of the Sudanese Islamic fundamentalists, the National Islamic Front (NIF). The NIF is adamantly opposed to the SPLA formula which would allow all Sudanese, particularly non-Muslim southerners, to have a voice in ruling the country. On taking power, the Bashir regime formed a Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (RCC) of 15 military officers. The RCC banned all political parties, trade unions and the free press, and imprisoned hundreds of political opponents. The RCC also began to implement many aspects of the NIF’s program. Within 18 months, it fired 20,000 government employees, including judges, army officers, university teachers and workers, and replaced many of them with NIF members and supporters. The RCC deliberately suppressed early information about drought and crop failures that have now put 9 million Sudanese at risk of starvation. The regime has held on to power mainly through its highly repressive security apparatus. This paper intends to compare the nature of military rule and its impact on the political system in both Myanmar and Sudan.
The Case of Myanmar
The struggle for Democracy carried out by the government and people of Myanmar is again a mere hope, precisely on 1 February 2021 the military again took over the reins of power in Myanmar, this is not the first time, a military coup has occurred, before in March 1962, led by General Ne Win, a coup against the first civilian government was since the country gained its independence. This coup was carried out on the grounds of the failure of Prime Minister U Nu to maintain the integrity of the country due to the many problems of inter-ethnic conflict, causing many ethnic rebellions, this is a worrying thing and will cause the division of the nation that has just been formed, besides the failure of the government to overcome the problem of corruption and economic stability is also the cause of the coup by the military.
Since under the rule of the Tatmadaw military junta regime until 2011 Myanmar has never run a democratic government, Myanmar's military rule began withsince the military coup carried out by General Ne Win, the emergence of military power in Myanmar's political system shifted the implementation of the old democratic system that had been established in Myanmar since its independence from Britain on 4 June 1948. The coup that occurred 59 years ago is part of the important history of Myanmar in fighting for democracy. However, the coup on 1st February 2021 was something different, this time the coup was carried out due to allegations of fraud that occurred in the elections held in November 2020. This caused outrage among Myanmar's civil society which demanded that the military immediately restore the power of the elected government.
This raises concerns for the public about the return of power to an authoritarian system and the loss of democracy. People's concerns are not unfounded because the military seems reluctant to return power to civilian rule, continues to arrest national political figures, and is aggressive towards anti-coup movements carried out by civil society. A coup by the military for social and political reasons turned the country into a state of emergency, with many people becoming victims due to their aggressive nature. Since the release of the 2012 election results, Myanmar's democracy has been undermined by the coup, and the potential return to power of the military junta. The presence of Myanmar's military junta is a disruption to the implementation and consolidation of the democratic process. The socio-political life of Myanmar society is complicated, faced with a military junta, the developing democratic process must really be encouraged by all elements in it, in this case, we also see the full reason for the military regime to carry out a coup, the question remains that will it bring political and social stability in it towards democracy or instead bring an authoritarian regime that torments the people of Myanmar.
The Role of the Military in Myanmar's Political and Social Dynamics in 2021
The phenomenon of military involvement in politics does not only occur in developing countries, in developed countries, the military intervenes in the policy-making process. In the development of the world towards democratisation, since the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, militarist regimes began to decline, If there was a military coup in a country, this became something surprising, plus the military occupied the government for a relatively long time, sacrificing so many civilians, of course the development of democracy suffered a setback.
According to Huntington, the relationship between civilians and military can be categorized into 5 patterns, namely: 1. Anti-military ideology, large military forces, and low military professionalism. This happens in primitive countries, such as Germany in World War I and the US in World War II. 2. Anti-military ideology, low military strength, low military professionalism. Occurred in totalitarian states such as Germany in World War II. 3. Anti-military ideology, low military strength, and great military professionalism, occurred in the US at the beginning of the emergence of military professionalism after the Civil War until WWII. 4. Pro-military ideology, large military force, high military professionalism, for example, Prussia and Germany in the Bismarckian-Molkean epic (1860-1890). 5. Anti-military ideology, low military strength, high military professionalism, e.g. 20th century Britain Of the five categories above, according to Huntington, which is more appropriate in describing the condition of relations between civilians and the military in Myanmar is the first, because until now the condition of the military is still very strong in dominating the Myanmar government and the community life sector. However, the professionalism of the military is relatively low because it is instigated in politics, while the ideology of the Myanmar state seen from the point of view of the people is anti-military, but the military is certainly not anti-military. From another perspective, Myanmar can be said to be a state of praetorians based on the relationship between civilians and the military, the military being the main actor and dominating using violence or threats from the power they have.
Militarism in Sudan
For decades, the history of Sudan, Africa's third largest country with around 46 million inhabitants, has been marked by violent clashes between the northern, Muslim and Arab military elites of the capital Khartoum at the expense of the civilian population. Since Sudan gained independence in 1956, there have been 16 attempted coups, six of which were successful. That was more than in any other country on a continent that has seen more coups than any other region in the world. Two civil wars between the government in Khartoum and the southern regions claimed around 1.5 million victims. In addition, the ongoing conflict in the Western Darfur region has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced two million people. In these conflicts, borders mean little. Control of resources and subjects is the primary objective, and forces arising in the borderlands seek revenge on the despised metropolitan elites. Sudan's geopolitical importance in a volatile region bordering the Red Sea, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, as well as its agricultural prosperity, attracted regional and global actors and hampered the successful transition to civilian-led government and sustainable development.
In addition to Great Britain(the former colonial power), Russia, the USA, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other neighbouring countries were fighting for influence in Sudan.Ethiopia, Chad and South Sudan were also affected by political unrest and conflict and suffered under the burden of Sudanese refugees fleeing the fighting to neighbouring countries. The British colonial rulers had already used existing differences to divide the population according to ethnic and regional affiliations, a practice that survives to this day. Militia activism deepened divisions among rebel supporters.
This divide-and-conquer policy corresponded to a well-established tactic used by African governments in ethnic civil wars, often exploiting the militias to encourage and facilitate ethnic migration by integrating the militias into the national army. Transnational, well-entrenched criminal networks involved in drug-, arms- and human trafficking also stood ready to take advantage of the chaos. This made Sudan one of the most fragile countries in the world. Sudan's collapse would not only shake its neighbours, but could also upset several other African countries, including fragile states in the Sahel, and East and North Africa. The side effects of such an incalculable conflict zone and the resulting chaos would also affect Western Europe, which is already suffering from the influx of refugees from Syria and other war zones in the Middle East and Africa.
The state of war between North and South Sudan, the inability of the two sides to resolve the oil transit issue, and the incapacity of both states to bring security to their own territories are a sad outcome of years of negotiations, mediation, and agreements that sought to help Sudan, whether as a single or divided entity, find a degree of stability. Both sides, perhaps overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems they face, seem to have sought refuge in something with which they have a long experience—namely war. In just a few months since the Republic of South Sudan gained independence, the progress that had been made over more than a decade in reaching a cease-fire and negotiating a comprehensive solution has come unravelled. Furthermore, neither side seems willing to compromise at this point. Far from believing they have reached a stalemate, North and South Sudan seem convinced that by fighting, they can gain the advantage over the other side.
This situation raises disturbing questions for the international community, which has understandably rushed in to try and halt the fighting, mediate solutions, and maintain peace. Given the failure of previous efforts, is another international effort the right approach? Or do international attempts in reality allow the two sides to continue provoking each other and pushing the limits, on the assumption that if they get in serious trouble the international community will move in and save them from the consequences of their actions? These are not abstract questions, but very real ones. Those who believe that previous efforts were insufficient and that the failure is in part due to the lack of follow-through by the international community on the implementation of agreements are now pushing for even greater international involvement in extricating North and South Sudan from the conflict they have initiated. In light of the suffering created by this war, the casualties, and the rapidly growing number of refugees, it is difficult to argue that halting the fighting between North and South—and other conflicts affecting the two countries— should not be an imperative. In light of previous failures, however, the question of whether such efforts to help the affected population make it easier for leaders to continue hostilities needs to be seriously discussed.
The military coup is a sign of the loss of democracy that developed in Myanmar, this reflects the life of democracy in Myanmar that is not democratic, the coup events that began in 1962 until now are not in accordance with the four main pillars of democracy, namely a free and fair election system, active participation from the community both in political practice and life as a citizen, the protection of human rights (HAM) for every citizen, and regulations that apply to all circles of society. The democratic process in Myanmar is considered flawed and has resulted in democracy not being fully implemented. Coupled with the military coup as an old-fashioned way to undermine democracy. The military uses elections as a more modern attempt to take power, with the hope that the people will favour them in resolving ethnic minorities that have become a scourge for Myanmar, in fact, some ethnic minorities still cannot be involved in electoral contestation.
Up to 2005, conflict mediation in Sudan had a positive impact on conflict resolution. It enabled the antagonized parties to engage in dialogue and reach mutually acceptable solutions, while also promoting compromise and cooperation as shown by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan and the subsequent independence of South Sudan. The repeated break of armistice agreements between the warring parties SAF and RSF in the current conflict does not offer much optimism concerning mediation attempts. This, the more so because external powers like Russia and Arab states showed an active interest in fuelling the conflict even more as indicated above. On the contrary, recent Sudan fighting escalated after a breakdown in ceasefire talks.
Provided, that the conflict does not degenerate into a full civil war or even a genocide like the Darfur war (2003 to 2010), the affected population probably will continue to show an extraordinary tolerance for suffering, but also a lack of revenge, and will orientate more towards notions of justice based on peace. At least, case studies among victims demonstrated that they saw returning to peaceful times in the aftermath of war as a sufficient condition of justice. Such construction of a 'peace-based' conception of justice may have implications for the design and implementation of truth and reconciliation programs along the South African example rather than focusing on experiences of war and conflict. This is all the more likely because contemporary conflicts are increasing in the duration of phases of violent and non-violent confrontation, and most violence is directed against civilians. Therefore, an alternative conception of peace as a social condition would be required to build legitimate institutions, counteracting authoritarian, fundamentalist, and sectarian narratives.
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