Myanmar Military’s Strategic Engagement With Bangladesh-japan-india’s Strategic Troika

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Japanese Pm Fumio Kishida has reiterated his country’s support for Bangladesh’s efforts to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar. He said Bangladesh and Japan have upgraded their relationship to a strategic partnership.

Bangladesh spends $3.6 billion yearly, to help the Rohingya. This puts pressure on its economy. Despite its diplomatic, UN General Assembly sanctions and resolutions, the USA’s Burma Law, and the adoption of ASEAN’s five-point consensus in April 2021, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has not yet been resolved. Bangladesh’s three close allies, China, Russia and India, have been asked to help. They have promised, but have not, either because they are unwilling, or due to their own agendas.

Japan, a close ally of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, should take a lead in the issue. Japan has always stood by Bangladesh in resolving the crisis and believes It can only be achieved through a swift, safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation.

It is essential for Myanmar to create favourable conditions for this. Japan urges the Myanmar government to take stronger measures and will continue to communicate this until a resolution. In 2019, Japan offered to mediate and said dialogue would continue.

Bangladesh and Japan have already decided to work together. Bangladesh’s Matarbari deep sea port has become a strategic issue for Japan and India for several reasons, and because the Quad partners aim to counter Chinese influence. The geopolitical importance of Matarbari was evident during Kishid’s visit to India in March.

Japan International Cooperation Agency also agreed to give a new loan of 165 billion yen ($1.2 billion) to Bangladesh for infrastructure. In New Delhi, Kishida said Tokyo wanted the development of states in South Asia from the Bay of Bengal to Northeast India in cooperation with both Bangladesh and India. Due to this, a discussion meeting was held in Agartala recently.

Matarbari would not only be the most convenient port but also the most prudent choice for Indo-Japan, as Dhaka has much more cordial relations than New Delhi’s other neighbours. Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Japan will benefit from this opportunity. In this case Japan can work together with Myanmar and Bangladesh. But first, Japan must help improve relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh by solving the Rohingya issue.

Bangladesh is now close to adopting the Indo-Pacific strategy. If Japan plays its role before China does, Japan’s acceptance in the region will increase. Therefore, Japan has a strategic advantage in developing Myanmar-Bangladesh relations.

Japanese ambassadors have visited Rohingya camps often. The people of Japan, various organizations and the Japanese government continue to support the Rohingya camps mterially.

Bangladesh and Myanmar must forge military-diplomatic ties to successfully handle repatriation. Military diplomatic communication is an effective strategy in strengthening relations with neighbours. Bangladesh has tried all kinds of bilateral and multilateral efforts to deal with the Rohingya crisis, without result. The influence of the military on state power in Myanmar is immense. The current Rohingya crisis falls within the ambit of the army. Thus, any move to deal with the crisis without involving the country’s army is bound to fail. A close professional relationship between the Bangladesh and Myanmar armies could have been put to good use in de-escalating the current crisis.

The Japanese government is continuing to communicate with the Myanmar government, ASEAN and G-7 to resolve Rohingya’s citizenship, repatriation and environmental issues diplomatically.

Several human rights groups have so far condemned Japan’s position. A 2019 Human Rights Watch report questioned the Japanese government’s response.

The Rohingya crisis has received little attention from Japan, the leader of Asia’s liberal democracies and a long-time strategic, economic and humanitarian supporter of Bangladesh. It has not voted on any UN resolution on Myanmar.

Myanmar has long been a reliable friend of Japan and now Japan wants to do good business there. Both JICA and the Japan External Trade Organization have projects in Myanmar.

Myanmar has become important in Japan’s geopolitical game. Japan is increasing its financial commitment to the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt, which includes the Special Economic Zones, energy sector and communications sector.

A significant amount was invested in the Thilwa SEZand Hydropower Plant Rehabilitation Project. Myanmar and Japan organized the Rakhine State Investment Fair in 2019 to boost investment.

Beyond military-to-military cooperation, Japan plays a very important role in Myanmar politics. It has given more than $20 million in aid to Myanmar.

Bangladesh will have to put pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingya. Japan, while an economic powerhouse in Asia and a strategic friend of Myanmar, can also show itself a friend of Bangladesh by encouraging the repatriation.

The protracted Rohingya crisis is a threat to Japan. Japan must abandon its cold-blooded policy and stand for human rights in all multilateral forums related to the Rohingya tragedy.

There had always been tension along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Along the 271-km border, two have a history of conflict. But the current issue really began in 2017 with the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar.

More than a million Rohingya refugees sought safety in Bangladesh. These refugees have been hosted by Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds. To maintain regional stability, the situation must be solved.

Bangladesh is under great pressure, snd has had to face, and continues to face, new diplomatic realities. It suddenly discovered that some long-time friends were no longer with it. It has largely failed to achieve the expected results by applying traditional diplomatic methods. Therefore, there is a need for new thinking in. Such as economic, military and cultural diplomacy. Military diplomacy is a special strategy to protect acountry’s interests and strengthen its diplomatic position in the international arena, and is increasingly used.

First, Bangladesh found a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the tension on its border with Myanmar. There had never be any notion of using force.

In an effort to deliver protest notes to the Myanmar ambassador, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry has so far used diplomatic channels. The Bangladesh government has taken a step forward in using military diplomatic activities.

Just like political diplomacy, military diplomacy has had positive discussions with Myanmar’s military leadership to resolve the Rohingya crisis, and in terms of defence cooperation, the relationship between the two countries will improve.

The Bangladesh army and border guard have seen success in military diplomacy before. In May 2014, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) naik was killed in firing by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP). The then DG BGB iIn June led an eight-member Bangladesh delegation to a meeting of the BGB and Myanmar Police Force (MPF) chiefs.

This was considered as a milestone in the development of the border forces of the two countries. This brings relief to Bangladesh’s 261-km border with Myanmar. Myanmar then expressed good neighbourly behaviour with Bangladesh.

A Myanmar military commander visited Bangladeshi Army chief Gel Shafiuddin in Dhaka on 27 October. Myanmar’s special operation commander, Lt Gen Phone Myat, explained the situation in Myanmar and how the junta was trying to maintain law and order while working with friendly countries.The statement said General Shafi discussed improving military relations, discussions between commanders and training exchanges. He called for Myanmar to work with Bangladesh to ensure regional security and the rapid repatriation of the Rohingya. The Myanmar delegation expressed interest in cooperating.

General Shafi stated in September that Bangladesh’s armed forces were prepared to act if Myanmar’s troops continued to fire across the border while pursuing the Arakan Army. He complained strongly to his counterpart in Myanmar about the shelling.

The Tatmadaw has been engaged in combat with the AA in northern Rakhine State, close to the Bangladeshi border. Since August, Bangladesh has complained to the international community about fighter and drone flights over its territory as well as mortar and machine gun fire overthe border. Mohammad Ikbal, a 17-year-old Rohingya, was killed by three mortar rounds launched into Bangladesh on September 16.

A recent battalion-level flag meeting between BGB and BSP decided to improve bilateral relations, while the Myanmar side regretted the recent shelling along the border.The meeting stressed boosting communication, confidence, and trus.

Although with a long history, military diplomacy is currently being addressed in several nations. The Rohingya issue and the most recent border dispute negatively affect the region. Regional peace will be threatened by the repatriation’s delay. Military diplomacy may be decisive in ending the crisis. Additionally, as Myanmar is currently underr a military government, the military will be able to strengthen bilateral ties. The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry can therefore develop plans and measures to end the Rohingya issue with this in mind. The solution to the border conflict is in multilateral diplomacy. Strengthening military diplomacy is necessary in this regard.

Although Bangladesh and Myanmar share a border of 271 kilometers, the Rohingya refugee crisis has been a long-standing bilateral issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh. But to assist in resolving this crisis, both must participate in meaningful dialogue.

Basically, there should be regular exchanges of visits, training sessions, and joint exercises. These will lessen mistrust while boosting comprehension. Additionally, this may assist in resolving the Rohingya problem.

Bangladesh and Myanmar must forge military-diplomatic ties to successfully handle repatriation. Military diplomatic communication is an effective strategy in strengthening relations with neighbours. Bangladesh has tried all kinds of bilateral and multilateral efforts to deal with the Rohingya crisis, without result. The influence of the military on state power in Myanmar is immense. The current Rohingya crisis falls within the ambit of the army. Thus, any move to deal with the crisis without involving the country’s army is bound to fail. A close professional relationship between the Bangladesh and Myanmar armies could have been put to good use in de-escalating the current crisis.

Source: pakistantoday