Arpita Hazarika

Dr Arpita Hazarika is a Gauhati University, Assam, India-based researcher. She is interested in refugee affairs, political economy, security and strategic affairs, and foreign policies of the Asia-Pacific region. With numerous foreign exposures, she has conducted research works on India-Bangladesh affairs.

Myanmar Military Junta: Sinking Within

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5 mins read

The piercing sound of air raids, mortar shelling, and gunfire on our southern border not only violates our territorial integrity and sovereignty but also presents a gloomy image of an uncertain future for the people of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the entire region.

The sound of gunshots also serves as a metaphor for the Myanmar Junta’s struggles and failures in establishing control over its own nation. The present violence in Myanmar has all the characteristics of a civil war.

Burma (Myanmar) is already engulfed in a civil war. Organized opposition groups, credible challenges to state authority, ground presence, alternative governance infrastructure (usually), and external recognition are often necessary for civil conflicts. All those components exist in Burma. The opposition is not organized along ethnic lines. They have had success in battling the security forces and Burmese army.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy was democratically elected to power in Myanmar, but that government was overthrown last year, and the military took its place. The recent trend of increased fighting and violence in Myanmar is evidence of growing unrest against the military establishment (NDL).

Following the military takeover, a sizable pro-democracy movement emerged, which later evolved into armed resistance in response to the Junta’s violent assault on dissent, which claimed the lives of at least 2,300 civilians throughout Myanmar.

People’s Defence Force (PDF), an anti-coup resistance force, has been in charge of a widespread armed resistance campaign since the coup. The National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government in exile run by Suu Kyi’s NLD’s expelled MPs, served as the foundation for PDF.

Frequently armed only with handmade weapons and a thorough understanding of the terrain, PDF has managed to astound the military with its capabilities.

To put an end to the resistance movement, the Junta in reaction conducted indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, and arson attacks against cities and villages.

The Junta’s support among the populace has been eroded by this indiscriminate violence against the civilian population, which has brought the nation dangerously close to civil war as more civilians take up guns to oppose the military regime.

The failure of the Junta military to take control of the country is due to the lack of popular support brought on by the indiscriminate violence against the country’s population, the Myanmar military’s lack of professionalism, and corruption at every level of its military leadership and law enforcement agencies.
Ethnic Armed Forces Organizations (EAOs), also known as powerful ethnic armed organizations, have formed coalitions to combat the Junta on the battlefield as a result of the Junta’s failings. There are some of them that have friendly ties to the military establishment.

In light of recent developments, the heads of Myanmar’s seven most potent ethnic armed groups, including the Arakan Army, recently met in the remote WA area bordering China to strengthen their alliance.

Some of these EAOs have actively given military training and other types of support to anti-coup resistance, even if they are not actively engaged in the campaign to topple the Junta regime in Myanmar, which is the PDF’s main goal.

The crisis in Myanmar has already served as a flashpoint for major world powers, just like every other contemporary conflict throughout the globe.

A semi-proxy battle has already developed in this conflict. China firmly supports the Burmese government. While western nations have denounced Burmese activities, supported the opposition diplomatically and helped them make their voices heard.

Myanmar has been attempting to take advantage of the west’s diversion in attention away from this region due to the conflict in Ukraine to annihilate its rivals on the battlefield.

The Junta has been looking for supporters domestically and abroad as part of its so-called “counter-terrorism” drive to combat the diplomatic isolation the west imposed on the country last year.

Last June, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution urging nations to stop arming Myanmar.

However, the call was ignored. China, Russia, and Serbia are now Burma’s top three weaponry suppliers.
Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, criticized Russia and China for continuing to supply the Junta with weapons despite “proof of the horrific crimes being committed with impunity” since launching a coup last year in his report released in February. However, Russia is still selling the Junta military equipment, and as part of a 2018 contract, it will soon send brand-new Sukhoi SU-30SM jet fighters.

Due to an uptick in violence, conditions in Myanmar have recently gotten worse for a great number of innocent people.

This brutal crackdown has unleashed a major refugee crisis forcing tens of thousands of people from almost every region to flee the country.

Since the coup, at least 1.3 million people have been forcibly evacuated in an effort to flee military attacks, he claimed, adding that the effects of this refugee flow would be felt throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

The largest increase in the number of refugees arrived in the Indian state of Mizoram. Since the military overthrew the government in 2021, about 30,000 people from Myanmar have sought refuge in Mizoram, according to Hindustan Times.

Bangladesh is also seeing a small influx of refugees despite intensive monitoring and surveillance in border regions. A minimum of 10-15 Rohingyas have sought refuge in the Kutupalong and Balukhali shelter camps in Cox’s Bazar since September 10 as a result of the resumption of hostilities between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army in Rakhine.

The “spectre of violence” in Myanmar has started to compellASEAN members to take action against Myanmar. This is a very significant development.

Bangladesh and Thailand have both been patient and cautious in their response (to airspace violation and artillery shelling), but if conflict persists and such violations become routine, Burmese provocations will in the future be responded to and that might create region-wide instability and chaos.

The Indo-Pacific region’s stability is threatened by the recent flare-up of fighting in Myanmar, which has alarmed neighbouring nations. The continuous insecurity and instability in Rakhine state have produced a spillover impact across the region.

Everyone worries that terrorist groups like IS and al-Qaeda may exploit the deteriorating situation in Rakhine state if the situation there is not adequately addressed. The world must emphasize the necessity of taking action on a global scale to address the security risk brought on by the unrest in Myanmar.
Bangladesh and Myanmar share a turbulent, almost 300-kilometer border, which has the potential to have negative repercussions on both countries.

For more than a month, tensions have been rising between Dhaka and Naypyidaw. On the Bangladesh side of the border, numerous instances of Myanmar’s brutal army airspace violations, deadly shelling, and gunfire have been documented.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar’s Ambassador in Dhaka, Aung Kyaw Moe, to express opposition to the provocation following a recent incidence of mortar fire in Bangladesh that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old Rohingya boy in the no-land man’s near Bandarban.

Bangladesh must support the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Gambia, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and other international organizations leading the efforts to hold the Myanmar military accountable for their actions against the Rohingya people in order to ensure the sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. Bangladesh needs to take the right actions to raise the Rohingya people’s voices and their grievances to the world community. Regional countries’ targets should be strict against the brutal Myanmar military. The world including regional countries must realize that the Rohingya issue is likely to remain stuck until the Myanmar junta is kicked out of power – and this could take a long time.

Strategic Importance of Hasina’s Sojourn to India: A Post Script

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4 mins read

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who completed her India visit recently, attended a closed-door meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday (September 06). After the meeting, the two Prime Ministers attended a press conference. In this conference, Sheikh Hasina termed the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India as a role model of ‘neighbourhood diplomacy’.

She also said that she agreed with the Prime Minister of India to work together on various bilateral issues. Sheikh Hasina said, we have agreed to carry out cooperative efforts to maintain our economic growth and regional peace, security and stability.

If Bangladesh and India can work together as partners, it will bring peace and prosperity not only for the two countries but also for the region. On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, we have emphasized on cooperation against terrorism and radicalism. He said, those who want to hurt our mutual trust.

Security cooperation, investment, enhanced trade relations, Rohingya issue, water resource management, border management, cooperation in power and energy sector, common river water sharing, prevention of drug smuggling and human trafficking were discussed in the meeting of the two Prime Ministers.

Despite the delayed progress on the line of credit extension in 2018, different types of equipment are being considered at various stages. According to media reports, Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka recently shared a wish list of military platforms and systems that its armed forces would like to purchase from India, marking some progress on the delayed implementation of the $500 million defence Line of Credit (LoC) extended by India to Bangladesh. This contains a wide variety of tools, such as an oil tanker for the Bangladesh Navy, a logistics ship, and a floating dock.

India considers the signing of the first contract between Bangladesh and India under the $500 Line of Credit (LoC) to be an “important first step” in bolstering bilateral defence cooperation.

“This week, I believe the first contract under the defence line of credit was signed. You have undoubtedly been paying close attention to this. Despite being small, it was an essential first step “said Vinay Kwatra, the foreign secretary of India, in New Delhi

According to its “Forces Goal 2030,” Bangladesh is modernizing its military by introducing new weaponry and enhancing infrastructure. A large portion of these requirements can be met by India, which will also boost defence cooperation between the two countries.

China has sold Bangladesh weapons, including two traditional diesel-electric submarines. China has become one of the world’s leading suppliers of weapons, particularly to nations in India’s immediate neighbourhood.

India has recently greatly increased its military support for capacity building and capabilities development for nations in the Indian Ocean Region in an effort to counter this.

The “intensification” of bilateral defence ties was welcomed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.

According to the joint statement released following the bilateral talks between the two leaders, they also agreed on the early completion of projects under the Line of Credit for Defense, which would be advantageous for both nations.

India looks forward to strengthening bilateral defence ties and welcomed the completion of “first purchase plans” for vehicles for the Bangladesh Armed Forces.

Both parties stressed the importance of cooperating closely to implement the $500 million Line of Credit offered by India for defence items at the 4th Bangladesh-India annual defence dialogue held in New Delhi in August. At the meeting, representatives from Bangladesh and India reaffirmed their commitment to improving interactions between their armed forces and discussed the development of bilateral defence cooperation programs.

For in-depth conversations, various facets of defence industrial and capability-building cooperation came up. Both nations looked at the possibility of working together on joint production, co-development, and commerce in the defence sector.

The Indian side reaffirmed its demand for the 2019 MoU’s provision of a coastal radar system for increased marine security to be implemented as soon as possible.

After the meeting between the two leaders, 7 MoUs were also signed between the two countries. These are – MoU on withdrawal of 153 cusecs of water from Kushiyara River under Surma-Kushiyara Project, MoU between BSIR of Bangladesh with Council of Science and Educational Research of India on Scientific Cooperation, MoU between Supreme Court of Bangladesh with National Judicial Academy at Bhopal, Indian Railway Training Institutes, an MoU between the Railway Ministries of the two countries for the training of Bangladesh Railway staff, an MoU between the Indian and Bangladesh Railway Ministries for information technology cooperation in Bangladesh Railways, an MoU between Bangladesh Television with India’s state broadcaster ‘Prasar Bharti’ and an MoU between BTCL and NSIL on space technology cooperation.

The relationship between Bangladesh and India is long-standing. We hope that this relationship will become closer and closer in the future. But it is also true, even though the two countries have maintained good relations, some issues have not been resolved yet. These include the Teesta water sharing agreement, border management and trade deficit. Regarding the Teesta water distribution agreement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed optimism and said that the agreement will be signed very soon.

It may be mentioned that all the formalities of signing this agreement have been completed but it was not implemented at the last moment. Indian authorities should consider to resolve the matter expeditiously. Indian government should also be sincere in stopping border killings. Reducing the trade deficit between the two countries is also of particular importance. We hope that the relations between the two countries will be strengthened through the settlement of the outstanding issues in the coming days.

Trade and cooperation between these two close neighbours have grown as a result of their special friendly relationship, promising advantages for both nations. To advance their relationship even further, Bangladesh and India signed seven agreements on Tuesday. These agreements covered important topics like water withdrawal from a shared river, railroad development assistance, judicial officer training in Bangladesh, science and technology cooperation, and broadcasting cooperation. These agreements portend a strengthening of the bonds that unite the two nations.

Compared to 2010, India’s loan assistance to Bangladesh has now increased tenfold. 25 percent of India’s total foreign aid is allocated to Bangladesh. In the meantime, the country has handed over a billion dollars to Bangladesh, that too at less than one percent interest, a generosity that no other friendly country has shown to Bangladesh.

India’s provision of tariff-free transit facilities to Bangladesh for exports to Nepal and Bhutan is considered a major step in bilateral cooperation. Also, since India can use the Chittagong seaport, not only the Seven Sisters of India will benefit from it, but Dhaka will also benefit from it. Because, due to this, the South Block of Delhi expects that the export of Bangladesh to Northeast India will increase significantly.

The visit also made it clear where India wants to take its relationship with Bangladesh in the days ahead. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA for short, with Bangladesh. As a result, the products of both countries will get duty-free access.

It is estimated that the volume of trade between the two countries will increase from the current 1.4 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars in the next ten years. India was also requested to implement SEPA by Japan and China. But India chose Bangladesh as its fourth largest trading partner before Japan or China. Besides, in the coming days, the area of ​​cooperation between the two countries is going to expand in space as well.

Hasina’s Visit to Delhi: A Prelude

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3 mins read

After almost three years, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to Delhi again on a state visit on September 5. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit is very significant in India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. The Modi government also wants to give special importance to this visit. Because of the changing geo-political situation, New Delhi considers Dhaka as its most ‘trusted friend’. On September 6, the two Prime Ministers will have a private meeting and a delegation-level meeting. Sheikh Hasina will address major business meetings like the Indian Chamber of Commerce the next day i.e. September 7. She will present the picture of how both parties can benefit if Indian investors invest in Bangladesh. The next day she will return to Dhaka via Ajmer Sharif.

Why is this visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina so important? The temporary power shortage in Bangladesh is going to end as Bangladesh’s largest thermal power project ‘Maitri’ is going to be inaugurated during her visit to India. Despite considerable ‘pressure’ from the Bangladesh government, the Teesta water distribution agreement could not be implemented mainly due to the objection of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. This time there will be significant progress if not all of it. The demand for wheat in Bangladesh is increasing.

In this situation, the Modi government has given permission to export wheat through the Hili border in Dinajpur. It should be remembered that this will be her last visit to India before the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. As a result, India will not return Sheikh Hasina empty-handed. During Sheikh Hasina’s visit this time, there is a bright possibility of finalizing the trade agreement called ‘CEPA’ (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) between the two countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently approved the draft of this agreement in the cabinet meeting. Now just waiting for India to agree on this. It is being touted as a ‘landmark’ or landmark agreement for free and duty-free trade in hundreds of goods between India and Bangladesh.

If this is a joint testing service, one-stop service will be launched. It will increase investment. As a result, exports will increase by 3-5 billion dollars beyond the current (about 1.28 billion dollars) export earnings. After the signing of the CEPA agreement, if the trade barriers are removed, the import picture of Bangladesh will also change. As most of India’s products and services are compatible with Bangladesh’s economy and culture, and due to low transportation costs and time savings, Bangladeshi importers will turn to India instead of Far Eastern countries for the same products. Then the number of imports from India will increase. In that case, the current import of 7 billion dollars will increase by 4-7 billion US dollars.
Before Sheikh Hasina’s visit, a ministerial meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) was held in Delhi on August 25. On August 23, JRC secretary-level meeting was held. It discussed the water sharing agreement of the Manu, Dharla, Khoai, Muhuri, Gomti and Dudhkumar rivers. In this, the issue of finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the withdrawal of Kushiara river water becomes important. Bangladesh wants to use Kushiara water to facilitate the cultivation of 5 thousand acres of land in Sylhet.

This would require India’s permission to withdraw water from the same river. Besides, the Ganga water-sharing agreement will expire in 2026. There is supposed to be a joint survey for maximum utilization of this common river water. After more than a century, the meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) of the two countries is sitting in Delhi. The matters agreed by the JRC in terms of water sharing or water management of several important common rivers of the two countries will be fulfilled in the meeting of the two Prime Ministers. This time, the question is – Will the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who has held back the Tista Agreement, come and meet Sheikh Hasina in the capital during her visit to Delhi? The central government of India has invited as per rules. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave a message to the country’s Hindu community on Janmashtami before her visit to India. She said, ‘Don’t think of yourself as a minority. All people have equal rights in Bangladesh regardless of caste and religion.

The Bangladesh government has requested $4.5billion in assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Economists say that the increase in the price of oil and gas, machinery and raw materials in the international market has created huge pressure on the country’s reserves. Bangladesh approached the IMF donors to handle that pressure. Last year, Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves were 45.5 billion, but by July 20, it had dropped to 37.67 billion dollars. In addition to the increase in the prices of fuel oil, gas, and food products in the international market, imports have increased a lot.

Bangladesh has not faced such economic problems with foreign exchange for the last decade. Because both remittances and exports have done more or less well during this period. But now due to the situation that has developed in the world, there is a negative impact on remittances. Exports are good, but the rate at which imports have increased has created pressure on the balance of payments.

Bangladesh’s infrastructure is improving rapidly. Now it’s time to set up various industries. In that case, in order to get raw materials and technical assistance quickly and cheaply, India will have to enter into some kind of financial agreement, which is not dependent on dollars in the parlance of economics. Bangladesh and India are gradually moving in that direction, only at this moment the leaders and ministers of the two countries need helpful to each other in tackling the crisis.

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