May 8, 2008

Will the cyclone weaken the junta?

From Newsweek (Web Exclusive):

What remains to be seen […] is the long-term impact the storm will have on Burma and its isolationist regime. The generals have held the country and its citizens in an iron grasp since seizing power in 1962. During 46 years of brutal rule and economic mismanagement, the people have at least had enough to eat—thanks to fertile land and a favorable climate. But now food prices are soaring and lines for gas are said to be stretching for miles in Rangoon in the wake of the disaster. The junta's vicious response to last year's protests—sparked by a rise in fuel prices—might have intimidated the long-suffering Burmese into accepting the current hardships. But some analysts feel the lack of assurance about basic necessities could trigger further resistance to the generals. "If they don't get enough proper assistance out in the next couple of days or weeks, the people will be very angry, and that anger might overcome their fear because they may feel they have nothing to lose," Win Min, a lecturer on Burmese affairs at Thailand's Chiang Mai University, told the German press agency DPA.

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