Burma's secret military partners

Author/s (editor/s):

Andrew Selth

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 136

Since the armed forces (or Tatmadaw) took back direct control of the country in 1988, Burma has consistently been branded a pariah state by the Western democracies, and made to endure a wide range of political, economic and military sanctions. As a result, the Burmese armed forces have lost much of the access they once enjoyed to the arms, training and military technology of their traditional suppliers, such as the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany. Some countries, however, have deliberately ignored this body of international opinion and developed close defence relations with the Rangoon regime. While a few, such as the People's Republic of China, have barely troubled to conceal such ties, there are other smaller and diplomatically more vulnerable countries which have attempted to hide the links that now exist between their armed forces and arms industries, and those of Burma. Three countries which stand out most strongly in this latter group are Singapore, Israel and Pakistan, all of which currently enjoy significant military partnerships with Burma. Suggestions that Germany has quietly resumed its former links with the Tatmadaw, however, remain unconfirmed.

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