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10th-Jul-2019

Rohingya crisis and the role of US

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PRIME Minister Sheikh Hasina strongly criticised the US Congressman for his proposal to attach Myanmar's Rakhine State with Bangladesh to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Rather, the PM said China would do whatever necessary to accelerate repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. She cleared her government's stance on Monday at a media briefing on her five-day official visit to China.
According to US media reports, Congressman Bradley Sherman, Chairman of Sub-committee on Asia Pacific of the Congress, made the proposal on June 13 during a hearing on the State Department's budget for South Asia. Sherman also called upon the State Department to consider the proposal of bringing Rakhine State of Myanmar under Bangladesh.
One wonders how the US Congressman came to make such an proposal knowing full the impossibility of such an action. ForĀ  such an action to occur it would probably take even the US military over a decade to try and bring peace to the region. We have seen in the past how heavy handed attempts by the US government in Southeast Asia -- especially Vietnam, have backfired.
While the Rohingyas will undoubtedly side with any foreign force to oust the influence of Myanmar, it will still not have the support of the majority Buddhists in the region. At best the region will become embroiled in a war of attrition of epic proportions--the likes of which have not been seen since Vietnam. It's perhaps unfortunate that Rakhine is not a desert or semi arid area like Iraq.
While the PM has shown statesmanship in rejecting the proposal she still hasn't come up with a concrete plan to resolve the solution. Asking China to interfere in Myanmar without asking them to not veto any UN Security Council resolution is basically useless. Both China and Russia have to support any UNSC resolution condemning Myanmar and allowing for the application of worldwide sanctions against Myanmar. Nothing short of this will make the Myanmar government take any action.
If the Tatmadaw--Myanmar's army, were to see its arms supply cut off from China and Israel--two of its main suppliers, then it would sit back and notice. Until a worldwide sanction is applied, we can't expect Myanmar to play fair with Bangladesh.