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                        IN PRAISE OF DSIF
For several years I have observed two efficient departments in
the SLORC Administration: Gen. Khin Nyunt's Department of the
Defence Services Intelligence (DDSI) - Military Intelligence -
and SLORC's Department of Shooting-Itself-in-the-Foot (DSIF). 
With its latest coup, the attack on Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy
of 9 November, including a knife attack on Suu Kyi herself,
DSIF once again demonstrates its genius for timing. The
attack, carried out by 2,000 USDA thugs trucked in from the
townships, the military conspicuously taking no preventive
action, but rather allowing the mob to assemble in the
forbidden area behind the road-blocks, was carefully
synchronised with ASEAN Secretary-General Ajit Singh's visit
to Rangoon. The purpose was clearly to cause ASEAN maximum
embarrassment, and thus help reduce Burma's chances of entry.
The attack was also designed to trigger the US sanctions on
Burma, which are conditional on an attack against Aung San Suu
Kyi and/or the Burmese Democracy Movement. The brilliance of
the timing can also be seen in light of the forthcoming APEC
meeting in Manila on 25 November, followed by a top-level
ASEAN meeting. By this and other actions, DSIF has ensured
that Burma will be high on the agenda.
DSIF has been very active this year, with the superbly
orchestrated arrest of 250 NLD supporters in May, as they were
on their way to a meeting at Aung San Suu Kyi's house, and the
September arrest of another 800, including NLD Deputy Chairman
U Kyi Maung. It was these events, together with certain
economic factors for which DSIF may justly claim some
responsibility, which provoked the split in ASEAN regarding
Burma's readiness for membership. Previous coups include the
attack on Karen positions in Saw Hta in 1992, one day after
Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw had announced to the UN General
Assembly that SLORC had declared a unilateral cease-fire with
the Karen National Union. Another had the same Ohn Gyaw, who
is frequently involved in DSIF operations, saying that Burma
has no human rights problems, precisely one day after the
SLORC attack on Halockhani on 21 July 1994. SLORC's failure to
pay its oil bill to Mitsui, a company considering massive
investments in Burma, is another achievement which may be
credited to DSIF.
Would anyone be interested in producing a little book
recounting the exploits of DSIF - or perhaps a regular column
on reg.burma and soc.cult.burma - or why not both?  Readers
are invited to post their favourite examples. Another exercise
would be to guess what the next one will be -- perhaps a major
attack on the KNU (to encourage the peace process) with
massive refugee flows carefully timed to coincide with the UN
General Assembly resolution on Burma. 
David Arnott, Geneva, 9 November 1996