Blinken says US is exploring ‘additional steps’ against Myanmar’s military leaders

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia December 14, 2021.

Olivier Douliery | Reuters

The United States is exploring additional actions against the ruling military junta in Myanmar, as the situation continues to deteriorate, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

“In the 10 months since the military coup… the crisis has only continued to worsen,” Blinken told a news conference in Malaysia, as part of a Southeast Asia trip aimed at improving ties with the region.

“It will be important in the coming weeks and months to consider additional steps and measures that we can take individually, collectively to pressure the regime to return the country to a democratic trajectory.” , he said in a joint press appearance with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

Myanmar’s military regime ousted its former leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup in February, sparking bitter clashes between her supporters and the military.

A special court in the military-run country sentenced her to four years in prison last week, after discovering she is guilty incitement and violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Blinken said the US was also “actively looking” at whether the military’s treatment of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority could constitute genocide.

Last week, The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom jointly imposed sanctions on Myanmar “military organizations responsible for violence and repression” for human rights abuses.

However, Peter Mumford, head of Southeast Asia and South Asia at Eurasia Group, points out that sanctions from the US and the international community will have little impact on pressuring the administration to change change direction.

I think the reality is that there is very little that the US can do to change what is happening with Myanmar.

Peter Mumford

Head of Southeast Asia and South Asia, Eurasia Group

“What Washington is trying to do is put more pressure on the authorities in Myanmar to make sure to curb the severe violence and get the country back on the path to elections,” Mumford told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” ” on Wednesday.

“And there’s the question of how much the US and other countries will actually want to impose sanctions – given concerns that could have a negative impact on populations,” he added. “So I think the reality is that there’s very little that the US can do to change what’s happening with Myanmar.”

The Malaysian foreign minister, who was also present at the news conference with Blinken, said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations needed to “search for souls” about events in Myanmar.

The 10-member ASEAN bloc has struggled to get Myanmar’s military government five-point consensus The plan was agreed earlier this year, including ending the violence.

“We can’t go on like this,” Saifuddin said. ASEAN needs to look beyond the principle of “non-interference” to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, he added.

“ASEAN should also consider the principle of not being indifferent because what happened in Myanmar has gone beyond Myanmar. It has reached Bangladesh and Malaysia is currently hosting almost 200,000 Rohingya refugees,” he said. Blinken says US is exploring ‘additional steps’ against Myanmar’s military leaders


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