For more than half a century, Myanmar’s military governments were synonymous with brutality and corruption, but a year ago the military stepped aside, handing power to a nominally civilian government. Here are four reasons why this change occurred.
What is happening in Myanmar, however, is not an Asian version of the “Arab Spring.” The generals launched themselves on the road to political reform several years ago, albeit slowly – long before they might have been frightened into it by events in the Middle East.
More importantly, the reforms have not come as a result of popular uprisings; in fact the government successfully (if brutally) put down uprisings in 1988 and 2007, when many observers thought Buddhist monks might be leading a “Saffron Revolution.” Instead, the reform process has been imposed from the top down. The generals decided for their own reasons (see previous points) that they wanted to leave power on their own terms.
Of course, watching the “Arab Spring” unrest spread around the Middle East, they probably congratulated themselves for being prescient.