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Decoding Sheikh Hasina's Big Warning on Balkanising Bangladesh and Myanmar

© AFP 2023 EVAN VUCCIIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hand with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9, 2023.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hand with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 27.05.2024
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina alerted that a plot is reportedly being developed to create "a Christian state like East Timor" from parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that an ongoing conspiracy to "carve out a Christian country" from parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar is allegedly underway, the Daily Star reported on Sunday.

"Like East Timor... they will carve out a Christian country taking parts of Bangladesh [Chattogram] and Myanmar with a base in the Bay of Bengal," she was quoted as saying at a meeting.

Hasina went on to claim that, according to a "white man" who met with her before the January 7 election, she would face "no problem" if she allowed an unnamed country to build an airbase on Bangladeshi territory.
"It may appear that it [the plot] is aimed at only one country, but it is not. I know where else they intend to go," Bangladesh's prime minister stated, without specifying the name of the country.
Commenting on her remarks, Hasina's former advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury told Sputnik India that the politician's statements were well thought out.

"The prime minister doesn't speak without proper proof. I am sure she must have thought out well before making these statements," Chowdhury highlighted.

Hasina won her fourth consecutive term this January. The vote was boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which demanded that the election be held under a caretaker set-up, a demand not in line with the nation's constitution.
Significantly, the US was widely perceived to be batting for the BNP in the lead-up to the vote, though the two governments have since attempted to move on from the tensions created by the elections.

'Balkanisation of Bangladesh and Myanmar'

While Hasina didn't name which nation was purportedly trying to create a Christian state from parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar, officials from her Awami League party have left little doubt as to who the premier is hinting at.
Squadron Leader (retired) Sadrul Ahmed Khan, a member of the Awami League's finance and planning affairs sub-committee, shared with Sputnik India that it was clear that the US has been trying to make inroads in the South Asian region through its support for anti-government forces, which include the National Unity Government (NUG) and People's Defence Forces (PDF).

"As the Kuki-Chin rebels in Myanmar are majority Christian, they appear relatively prone to manipulations by foreign actors. The Kuki-Chin rebels in Myanmar's China state are involved in intense fighting with the Myanmar government forces," Khan underscored.

The Awami League official pointed out that since last year, the Biden administration has made no secret of its support to the opposition forces in Myanmar after the US president signed the BURMA Act into law, which calls to provide "non-lethal assistance" for Myanmar's "Ethnic Armed Organizations".
The first tranche of aid under the act reached anti-government forces this year. It has been objected to vociferously by the ruling State Administration Council (SAC), which stated, according to Voice of America (VOA), that "the US is manipulating Myanmar to counter China's influence in the region."

Khan, meanwhile, pointed out that America's tacit backing of Kuki-Chin rebels has security implications for not only Bangladesh and Myanmar but also India, which also has a large population of the ethnic group in the northeastern states, such as Manipur.

In fact, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh claimed in February that the "unnatural growth" of Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes has implications for national security. The north-eastern Indian state has been experiencing ethnic clashes between the majority Meiteis and Kuki-Zo groups since last May, leading to over 200 deaths and tens of thousands of people being internally displaced.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament in January that New Delhi would fence the entire stretch of the 1,643-kilometre-long Indo-Myanmar border in response.
Chowdhury, meanwhile, highlighted that improved India-Bangladesh relations under Hasina, including on security matters, have benefitted India's northeast.

US Plans to Acquire St Martin Island Base

Furthermore, Khan stated that the US has sought to set up a base on St. Martin Island, strategically located at the Bangladesh-Myanmar maritime border in the Bay of Bengal, for a long time.

"Bangladesh is ready to give all support as long as the agenda is confined to peacekeeping operations, humanitarian aid or logistical exercises. But the US has for a long time sought to establish a naval base at St Martin's Island. Bangladesh condemns such military ambitions, which will destroy our sovereignty and affect peace and stability in South Asia," Khan remarked.

He asserted that neither Bangladesh supports any arms race between the US and China nor would it act as a "proxy" for US interests aimed at containing China, because the independent state has its own outlook for the Indo-Pacific. He echoed Hasina and underlined that the country will not compromise in the face of external pressure.
Chowdhury, in turn, warned that another US base in South Asia would have security implications not only for Dhaka but also for New Delhi.
"Despite its growing ties with the US, I am sure that even New Delhi doesn't want any external interference in the region," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speak at a signing ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 18.12.2023
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