BANGLADESH. Coxsbazar. Faridul Alam, Associate Professor at Chittagong University, Analyst of International Politics and Diplomatic Relations and Rohingya Security Expert provided an in-depth interview with Transcontinental Times to discuss the Rohingya crisis.
TCT: How do you analyze the visit of the Indian Foreign Secretary and the Army Chief to Myanmar?
Faridul Alam : Both India and Myanmar are planning to control the violent activities of different militant groups in their respective territories. It was reported that some of the groups of northeast India were sheltered and supported by the militant groups like Arakan army, ARSA, and some other small groups, while these groups are also patronized by the rebellion groups of seven sisters. So it was and is a reciprocal relationship. It was reported that earlier, the Myanmar authority has handed over 22 personnel to the Indian authority and expects that India will help them to defeat Arakan army and other groups in Mizoram, Monipur and Nagaland, who are engaged to endanger the internal security of India. In this connection, the visit of both the Foreign Secretary and Army chief in Myanmar can be considered as India showing their profound interest to develop military ties for their mutual interest and benefit.
TCT: How much can India help Bangladesh solve the Rohingya problem?
Faridul Alam: As a regional power and giant state, [India] has one of the longest land boundaries with Bangladesh and can play a significant role to solve Rohingya problem. When it is agreed that the Rohingya people be given humanitarian shelter in Bangladesh, the international community has the responsibility to lessen the burden of Bangladesh. As a neighboring state, India has a profound role to play. Regional security issues should also be taken into consideration.
TCT: Putting Myanmar under international pressure would further strain relations with China, analysts say. Your thoughts.
Faridul Alam: Putting Myanmar under international pressure and building a good relationship with China do not conflict with each other, rather it depends on our diplomatic capabilities. We should remind China that we are overburdened under international humanitarian concerns. It is not only that we are eager to make a good relationship with China; rather, China has also shifted their interest to Bangladesh for their own benefit. We just need to understand this and capitalize on the shift.
TCT: How do you think India can influence Myanmar?
Faridul Alam : India will only have influence over Myanmar if Myanmar is convinced that their security concern has been removed with the help of India. India has to revisit its understanding on gaining their national interest at the cost of influencing the Rohingya issue. India knows very well that they can and will manage Bangladesh, but their goal at this moment is to attract the interest of Myanmar.
TCT: If India increases its interest, what will China’s response be?
Faridul Alam : So far, the interest of China on this issue is clear: they don’t want to go against Myanmar. We should remember that India’s growing involvement is for mutual interest. They will not bring the Rohingya issue to the frontline. They will not go for any action which can deteriorate the mutual long term benefits.