Since February 2021, Myanmar’s generals and the ayatollahs have strengthened relations in terms of military collaboration. For Tehran “new market spaces” have been opened. The three trips of a Qeshm Fars Air Boeing 747 between January and April 2022 and the trip of a delegation linked to the Pasdaran.
Tehran () – Since the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021 – which overthrew the democratic government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, currently under arrest – relations between Tehran and Naypyidaw on the issue of weapons have been increasingly consolidated more, in particular with the missiles and drones that the dictatorship uses to attack rebel groups and annihilate its own people, without sparing women, children and civilian targets such as schools. A report by the Burmese newspaper The Irrawaddy reveals the ties between the two countries and the “new market spaces” that have opened up in the last two years for the ayatollahs, who do not disdain to strengthen ties with the generals.
Last year, between January and April, a Boeing 747 cargo plane from Qeshm Fars Air (subject to US sanctions for delivering supplies to pro-Tehran militias involved in the Syrian conflict) from Mashhad landed three times in the capital and in Rangoon. According to the information, on one occasion he transported at least 21 boxes containing drones and motors for military vehicles. A second shipment, which landed in Naypyidaw, reportedly consigned more powerful and sophisticated Iranian-made weapons to the military junta, including guided missiles.
Burmese daily sources also report that an Iranian delegation made up of people linked to the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) arrived in Myanmar on January 13. One of them would be Gholamreza Ghasemi, a former commander and pilot who was arrested in Argentina last year on suspicion of arms trafficking aboard the 747 in which he was traveling. Ghasemi is also a board member of Qeshm Fars Air and is said to have personally piloted the plane in which he arrived in Myanmar.
Before the military coup, relations between Naypyidaw and Tehran were distant and sporadic, but since February 2021 the situation has changed and the Junta – unlike the democratic government – has increasingly relied on Iran for supplies, starting with drones and missiles. guided. That information was also confirmed by former Burmese pilots and soldiers who have left the army in recent years so as not to be complicit in military violence against the civilian population. The motor of the MD550 drone is manufactured by an Iranian company called Mado (Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar), which has been on the US sanctions list since October 2021.
Relations between Myanmar and Russia have also intensified greatly since the coup with the purchase of fighter jets, helicopters and other military equipment. According to a recent UN report, the Myanmar junta has imported at least $1 billion worth of weapons and military equipment since February 2021, mostly from Russia and China.
Returning to the relations between the ayatollahs and the generals, in 2016-17 the Myanmar military had sent a team of military engineers to Iran to learn the techniques of refitting old training aircraft, keeping in mind Tehran’s ability to perfect their technology. After Western sanctions in response to the coup and the crackdown on the people, the Burmese regime strengthened trade with Russia, China, India, Belarus and Iran. In recent times, the junta has used military hardware to intensify the air and ground campaign against the resistance forces and the Karen, Kachin, Kayah and Mon rebel groups and in the Sagaing and Bago regions.