The United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’, after negotiations, have been working to prevent an unwanted war which would have benefited neither, according t a Shan commander.
For the last 3-days, troops from the UWSA’s Hoyawd-Hopang based 248th Brigade had been surrounding the Loi Hsarm Hsip base of the SSA’s 727th Brigade commanded by Lt-Col Teun Kherh, opposite Chiangmai’s Fang district. Local and Thai sources say the Wa had sent down 20 truckloads of troops to the SSA stronghold. “This morning, we saw only about 6 truckloads remaining,” said Teun Kherh. “Earlier, we had dispatched an emissary to Mong Jawd to clear out the misunderstanding.”
The “misunderstanding” started when the 727th had recently assigned one of its units to set up an outpost at Pong Tawng, 3 miles west of its base, considered by the UWSA as part of the area controlled by its 248thBrigade. The SSA said it was for the security of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who wanted to grow rice and vegetables for food.
Since the ceasefire agreement was reached between Naypyitaw and Loi Taileng, the SSA Headquarters, the IDPs are increasingly facing shortage of food assistance from aid agencies, it says.
The two sides had last fought in 2005 after a businessman working with the UWSA went missing and over a local dispute over water rights. They also had a close call, 16-19 June, when the SSA was reported to have set up bases inside Wa territory. The report was later found to be inaccurate.
“The one thing we should both focus on is the ongoing peace process,” said an SSA officer who asked not to be named. “Any fighting between us will only serve to derail it.”
The UWSA signed the ceasefire agreement with Naypyitaw on 6 September 2011, followed by the SSA ‘South’ on 2 December 2011.