Two Asian Powerhouses are Competing in Myanmar’s Rakhine And Burmese Troops Mobilisation on Border

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Two Asian Powerhouses are Competing in Myanmar’s Rakhine And Burmese Troops Mobilisation on Border
By Golam Mortaza and Dr M Sakhawat Hossain (SIPG, NSU), Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Myanmar has recently deployed troops on the Bangladesh border. Bangladesh has expressed its concern by writing a letter to the UN Security Council. The Myanmar government-controlled media are seen propagating that Bangladesh has deployed troops on the Myanmar border.

Tension on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border is mainly centring the Rohingya crisis — a creation of Myanmar. The current tense situation leads to some burning questions.

Does Myanmar want to create a war-like situation with Bangladesh? How is Bangladesh’s preparation, ability and strength? How significant is the Bangladesh-Myanmar relations in the context of international and regional politics?

The Daily Star turned to military and security expert Dr M Sakhawat Hossain (SIPG, NSU) to have an in-depth analysis of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations.

M Sakhawat Hossain (MSH): First of all, I would like to say that I am speaking based on my long research and observation. I have lived and worked in that region. We have limitation to know Myanmar completely. You can say, this is my own experience-based analysis.

The election is supposed to be held in Myanmar next November where mainly two parties are competing. One is the NLD and the other is its army although the army will not be in the election directly. Army will be there to control the political situation which has been the case over the years and they are also in the parliament.

The conflict in the Rakhine region has several levels. The first level is the Arakan Army vs government forces. The second is Rakhine Buddhists vs Bamar Buddhists, the third is Rakhine Buddhists vs government forces and last but not the least is Rohingyas vs Myanmar army and Rohingyas vs Rakhine Buddhists.

And then two powerhouses in Asia are in a kind of competition in Rakhine. India has influence in northern Rakhine while China’s influence is in southern Rakhine. The Arakan Army has freshly joined the competition. Besides, the Rohingya issue is already there. Those who are regularly following the matter can see that the strength of the Arakan Army has suddenly increased.

Burmese Troops Mobilisation on Bangladesh BorderBangladesh has expressed its concern to the UN Security Council over the recent deployment of Myanmar troops on the Bangladesh border. Tensions on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border are mainly centring the Rohingya crisis, a creation of Myanmar. Does Myanmar want to create war-like situation? How is Bangladesh’s preparations, ability and strength? How significant is the Bangladesh-Myanmar relations in international and regional politics? The Daily Star’s Golam Mortoza turned to military and security expert Brigadier General (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain to have an in-depth analysis of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations.

TDS: Why is Myanmar raising tension along the border now?

MSH: First of all, I would like to say that I am speaking based on my long research and observations. You can say, this is my own experience-based analysis. For this we have to look at the international situation. Tensions are running high over India’s border conflict with China. From Myanmar’s point of view, it cannot be kept out of this tension.

The polarisation with the United States, Australia, and Japan behind India against China is also there. In this, it seems Bangladesh is neither here nor there. But one thing very noticeable is that US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper suddenly called Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. This is a big issue in the geopolitical context. Bangladesh is being dragged into the US-Australia-Japan-India pole. A number of unconfirmed sources, especially in various international media, reported that they [US] apparently want to sell some sophisticated war equipment to Bangladesh which include Apache helicopters that have been discussed at different times. They [US] also want to assist in necessary training. India and Japan have invited Bangladesh to join their side. Myanmar is creating a kind of pressure on the border from the thought that some kind of pressure may come on to them. Western countries are forging alliance on the Rohingya issue. There might pressure Myanmar through safe zone or a no-fly zone or any other way.

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