US CHANGES TACK TO ‘ENGAGE’ MYANMAR

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 24 Sep 2009

Aljazeera

The United States has signalled a sharp shift in its policy towards Myanmar.

Acknowledging that the past policy of isolation and punishment had failed to produce desired results, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said Washington would now engage directly with the country’s military government.

"We believe that sanctions remain important as part of our policy but by themselves they have not produced the results that had been hoped for," Clinton said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

She repeated US demands that Myanmar’s rulers immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader jailed for most of the past 20 years, embark on credible democratic reform and engage in dialogue with the opposition and ethnic minorities.

‘False choice’

Clinton had raised expectations earlier this year that Washington might be rethinking its economic sanctions against Myanmar, also known as Burma.

But she made clear on this occasion that these were likely to stay in place.

"Engagement versus sanctions is a false choice, in our opinion, so going forward we will be employing both of those tools, pursuing our same goals," she said.

However, Clinton also stressed Washington’s desire to deal with country’s military rulers.

To help achieve democratic reform, we will be engaging directly with Burmese authorities," she said.

Welcoming the US policy shift, Zaw Oo, a professor at Thailand’s Chiang Mai University, told Al Jazeera: "The sanctions are not sufficient to promote democracy in Burma. They are becoming less effective.

"The US engagement will provide further assistance so that these weakening civil-society elements will be re-energised and be prepared for the eventual changes in the country.

It might also lead [Myanmar’s] armed forces to reconsider their relationship with China in strategic terms."

The ruling generals in Myanmar have announced plans to hold the country’s first election in two decades next year as part of its "road map" to democracy.

Critics, however, say the exercise is merely an attempt to hold on to power and lend legitimacy to nearly five decades of military rule.

The US joined the international community in condemning Myanmar’s government earlier this year for convicting Aung San Suu Kyi for allowing an American man who evaded security to intrude into her home, to stay for two days.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent 14 of the past 20 years in jail or under house arrest, was sentenced in August to a further 18 months of house arrest, enough to keep her off the campaign trail for next year’s planned elections.

GO TO ORIGINAL – ALJAZEERA.NET

 

Share this article:


DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Comments are closed.