Now a Burma-Laos Friendship Bridge

Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

Burmese Soldier Displays Opium Poppies to Foreign Journalists. Copyright AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

As it recovers from a DoS attack which targeted it and other Burmese-exile groups, The Irrawaddy also reports that the Laotian Government has promised Burma’s ruling Generals its full support in the upcoming General Election.

On the face of things, not least with banking assistance from Singapore as well as China and India vying to be the Burmese Generals’ bestest friend, this appears akin to the Parish Council of Upper Little Snoring weighing-in. Yet, the two dictatorships of Burma and Laos retain common security and financial interests.

In 2007, US law enforcement agencies frustrated Operation Tarnished Eagle which had intended to purchase weapons and other resources for rebel Hmong forces in an alleged plot against the Loatian Government. Leading this was H’mong soldier, Vong Pao who had led Hmong in Laos to ignominy and exile with his alliance with the CIA some 40 years beforehand.

Although, the H’mong ethnic group has historically been centred in Laos and south east China, there has been a noticeable presence in eastern Shan State which includes the Mekong River which forms the 150 mile border between Burma and Laos.

A bigger concern for the Burmese Generals, however, will be more pecuniary: namely the local drug trade. Much of Burma’s narco-dollars come from her part of the Golden Triangle, where she and Laos and Thailand all border. As part of her many ethnic conflicts, the Shan State drug-lord, Khun Sa opposed the Burmese military for years with finances from the drugs trade, before falling out with other Shan leaders in the late 1990s and signing a peace deal with the Burmese military (he died in 2007).

Now it is Naw Kham, also from the Shan State and leader of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, whom the Burmese military is seeking as a rogue drug-lord.

The motivations of the Burmese Generals should, however, be seen in the context of Marlo Stansfield pursuing Avon Barksdale. Burmese News International observes that the newly formerly Burma Guard Force has replaced the regular Burma Army along the Burma-Laos border region.

With a strong command-presence from the La Hu ethnic group, which is strongly involved with the local drugs trade, the BGF is assumed to be a means for plausible deniability when it comes to transferring narco-dollars.

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