Insurgency, Drugs and Small Arms in Myanmar

Anshuman Behera was Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi.
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  • January 2017

    The many links between drugs, small arms and insurgency have been widely discussed and addressed by scholars. The literature in particular has convincingly shown how several insurgent groups in Myanmar have used the drug business to finance and sustain their violent movements. Funds generated from drug production and circulation help the insurgent groups to procure arms, and are widely believed to be supporting the protracted nature of these movements. In this context, Myanmar presents itself as a classic example wherein the relationship between drugs, small arms and insurgency becomes clearly apparent. The country has become a major hub for illicit drugs production. It has been observed that insurgency, arms smuggling and illicit drugs business depend heavily on each other for their sustenance. The ‘ungoverned territories’ bordering other states also help insurgencies and keep the drug business flourishing. Given this context, this article focuses on unravelling the linkages among insurgency, drugs and small arms in Myanmar.