'Developing countries like Bangladesh are the first victims of the Middle East crisis'



Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Pic: Barta24.com

Pic: Barta24.com

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Israel-Iran conflict has again become a great threat to the stability of the entire Middle East without the end of Israeli brutality in Palestine along the path of Israel-Hamas conflict. International relations expert Professor of International Relations department of Jahangirnagar University Dr. Shahab Enam Khan thinks so. He said, developing countries like Bangladesh will be the first victims of instability in the Middle East. Referring to this ongoing crisis as 'long-term', Bangladesh should not only rely on garments and remittances to deal with the possible situation, but should prepare international trade diplomacy. The Professor said these things in an exclusive interview given to Barta24.com. Planning Editor Ashraful Islam spoke.

Barta24.com: How to assess the recent tense situation in the Middle East? What kind of global challenges is this creating, especially for developing countries like ours?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: The situation in the Middle East is completely unpredictable and this unpredictability will continue for a long time. This unpredictability is not just like Israel or Iran jumping for a few days and then stopping again. This unpredictability will continue for a long time and will be at the center of Israel. The relationship between the Arab and Western world revolves around Israel. So here is the volatility centered on Israel. And the crux of it is that the Western world handles it. To be clear, the Arab world has no role here except to wage war of words. There is another point - in view of these events, there is now a big polarization between Russia-China-Turkey-Iran, centered on them. On the other hand, there has been a polarization in the Western world around Israel. This polarization will have a huge impact on the global economy. They would like the West to not be able to do this, which would put a huge strain on the global economy and monetary system. The first victims will be the developing countries.

Barta24.com: Does that mean it is becoming clear that the Western monopoly on the world order has collapsed?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Absolutely. That is why polarization has been created in the world. The Western world has a monopoly on Israel but not Iran. But what will happen to Israel's relationship with the West, how they handle this relationship will depend on how the days ahead will be. What Israel's relationship with the Arabs will be does not matter here.

Barta24.com: Can't we see some kind of contrast between the speeches and statements of the Western countries, especially the United States, and their internal stand...at least when assessing the situation?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: That's right. I will add one more thing, that is - the upcoming election in the United States is also an important issue. Because of this, the Israel-West relationship will remain unstable for a long time. It is precisely because of this that the world economy and monetary system are under great stress which will have an impact on developing countries like Bangladesh.

Barta24.com: What kind of impact do you think?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: First of all, different types of sanctions, alternative currency pressure will come. Secondly, there will be a lot of strategic diplomatic pressure at this time. We have a kind of constitutional commitment to stand by Palestine, we have been showing it. We have taken the same stand in the case of Rohingyas. Stand up for endangered humanity.

Barta24.com: What kind of precautions should we take in terms of reality?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: We need a complete rethinking of international trade. It will not be possible to depend only on garments and remittances. India has not been hit as much by the current world situation or as much as we were by the Ukraine crisis because of the diversity of the Indian economy. I think we have to work hard on four areas. First: Energy security, more precisely we have to achieve self-sufficient energy, which is directly related to national interest. It needs to be mentioned here that many people confuse the national interest of our country with personal interest. In national interest we have to ensure our energy security from indigenous sources. We will not have it with inefficient energy institutions. The entire energy system needs to be overhauled.

Second, our trade diplomacy should not only be verbalized, but trade diplomacy should be strengthened in a practical sense. Among these will be the number one priority, 'Diversity'. That is, various sectors of the economy should be strengthened.

Thirdly, existing relations with Arab countries should be deepened. Also, it is important to create strong alliances with other developing countries that will be affected by this global tension and conflict. We may not be interested in going to BRICS and try to do something ourselves, where our own interests will be prioritized where many countries like Bangladesh are worried about the existing situation. If Bangladesh can bring many economies together to create a collective voice, it will also bring effective results.

Many countries will tell us a lot, but we have to think about how effective it will be in practice. Bangladesh has been talking about trade multi-lateralization for at least a decade, but there is no action on what to export, what to have. Indigenous people are not creating any industry here, nothing much has been done with the potential jute. That means not only words, but a practical effort needs to be taken in the practical sense.

Fourth is to strengthen and expand the internal market. At the moment, the domestic market of Bangladesh is largely dependent. A Cadbury chocolate in India manufactured by themselves to British standards and offered to consumers. There is no more trouble with foreign currency. People are eager to buy old cars in Bangladesh. With such a large market, why is the indigenous car industry not happening here? If it was a country with a small population like Bhutan or the Maldives, one would think so, but that is not the case. We are very relieved to ride in an old car, because the reality is that a car is a necessity. Where economic productivity has increased, scale has increased; Human mobility will naturally increase. But here the productivity and safety of people are being minimized by importing with 200-400% tax.

There is a lot of talk about transitioning into a developing country in 2026, but what will happen to the pharmaceutical industry here? Let the government create APIs with subsidies, let them create commodities - but apart from all this, we are filled with thoughts of impossible adventures which should not be done at all.

Barta24.com: Is excessive bureaucratic reliance a barrier to discouraging possibility and diversity?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Of course, the economy can never be bureaucratic. Here the private sector needs to be brought into more policy making. Private sector believes in profit. So they always want variety. If bureaucrats could understand export diversification, why did the jute industry fail? I think creative industries should be brought in here by reducing bureaucracy dependence by going for extensive privatization. It will help the country's economy a lot in the current global crisis.

Barta24.com: The tension on the border of Myanmar is not stopping, do you see a sustainable solution?

Dr. Shahab Enam Khan: Sustainable solution will come only when Arakan is stabilized. Bangladesh needs to play a leading role in stabilizing Arakan. It can be done in many ways - single support or contribution to infrastructure development. Steps can be taken to strengthen their civil society, political society. It will be seen that the Americans from across the Atlantic are doing it right. Bangladesh is talking about democracy and then Bangladesh can work to restore democracy there. We need to engage with the actors that are active there, not just the Arakan Army because without them the repatriation of Rohingya will not be possible. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar's government military) will not solve this. Nor will the Rohingya crisis be resolved even if the Tatmadaw takes root in Rakhine. If the Tatmadaw cannot stay, the Arakan Army comes; it will not be a solution if they are not engaged. Although Bangladesh has made a lot of progress on the Rohingya issue in the past year, nothing has happened before.

Edited by: Mahmood Menon, Editor-at-Large, Barta24.com 

   

US sanctions on former army Chief Aziz Ahmed



News Desk, Barta24.com,Dhaka
photo: Collected

photo: Collected

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The United States has imposed sanctions on Bangladesh's former army chief General (retd) Aziz Ahmed for his alleged involvement in corruption. However, not only Aziz Ahmed, but also his family members have been informed about the declaration of ineligibility to enter the United States.

This information was given in a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country on Monday local time (after Monday midnight Bangladesh time) (May 20).

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement that former General (Ret.) Aziz Ahmed, formerly the Bangladesh Army chief, has been designated by the Department of State under Section 7031(c) of the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act due to his involvement in significant corruption. Foreign Office said this would make Aziz Ahmed and his family members generally ineligible for entry into the United States.

According to the statement, his (Aziz Ahmed) activities undermined the democratic institutions of Bangladesh and reduced public confidence in government institutions and processes.

The US State Department said Aziz Ahmed helped his brother avoid accountability for criminal activities in Bangladesh. In doing so, he engaged in significant corruption by interfering with the regulatory process. He also worked closely with his brother to ensure that he was unfairly awarded contracts in the military sector. He took bribes in exchange for government appointments for his own interests.

The action against Aziz Ahmed reaffirms the United States' commitment to strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law in Bangladesh. The United States supports Bangladesh's anti-corruption efforts by making public services more transparent and accessible to citizens, improving business and regulatory systems, and increasing capacity to investigate and prosecute money laundering and other economic crimes.

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France will lend 300 million Euros to combat climate change



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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The French government will provide a 300 million euro loan to Bangladesh as budget support.

To this end, the Bangladesh government and the French Development Agency (AFD) signed a framework agreement on Monday (May 20). This money will mainly be spent on the implementation of the government's programs to combat climate change.

Secretary of the Department of Economic Relations Shahriar Quader Siddiqui and AfD Deputy Country Director Cecilia Courtesy signed the CFA agreement.

Under the loan agreement, this money will be spent on preparing effective and strong foundations against the negative impacts of climate and on climate-sustainable and low-carbon emission-based initiatives.

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Leaders are indifferent to Awami League's "Secret Punishment"



Ruhul Amin, Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Sixth Upazila Parishad election is going on in the country. The first phase of this four-phase election was held on May 8. The second phase of the election is on Tuesday (May 21). In this election, the ruling party, Awami League, has abandoned its symbol boat to attract voters. Ban on the relatives of the minister-MP, if the order is not obeyed, the punishment is threatened! However, the relatives of the minister-MP did not withdraw from the election despite everything.

While looking for the reasons for ignoring the strict instructions of the party chief and the centre, it is known that the leaders are not punished openly, and the punishment is given less punishment and it is pardoned again.

Many have started to believe that no matter the direction given from the Centre; if they win the election then they will not face any punishment. Again, the leaders who have popularity and public support think that even if they are punished, it will not last long. Even if any minimum punishment is given, the party will forgive him and give him a chance again.

Meanwhile, despite talking about punishment publicly, not seeing its implementation is encouraging people to disobey the party's instructions.

Jahangir Alam, former mayor of Gazipur City Corporation, can be the best example of punishing and forgiving again and again. On November 19, 2021, he was expelled from the party for violating party discipline for the first time by making controversial comments about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the liberation war. After almost a year on December 17, 2022, the party revoked Jahangir Alam's expulsion order and pardoned him.

However, the influential leader of Gazipur did not stop working against party discipline. Azmat Ullah Khan, a senior leader of Gazipur Awami League, was the candidate for boat in the Gazipur City Corporation election held in May last year. He went against the boat in the election, disobeying the instructions of the Awami League and submitted the candidature of himself and his mother Zayda Khatun. Due to this, Jahangir Alam was again expelled from the party. However, he did not last long after the expulsion. Rather, the boycott was withdrawn after only five months to use Jahangir Alam's large workforce in the 12th national election.

For the sake of maintaining party order and maintaining the ideological position, although there is a provision to take punitive measures in the constitution, the political parties of the country are always seen to follow a lax policy in observing them. Even if action is taken, it is quickly withdrawn. Among them, four district and upazila chairman, former MP, important leaders of the party and many others.

Although the ruling party Awami League says that those who break party discipline are never exempted. Sometimes, for tactical reasons, the violators of the party discipline have to be severely punished, even if they are not punished publicly.

According to the party, the party chief took timely action against those who disobeyed the party instructions. Although no punishment is seen to be given publicly, in many cases hidden punishment is given which is greater than public punishment. They are excluded from party posts. Nomination is not given. He has to be dropped from the cabinet.

In the afternoon of May 17, at the office of Dhaka District Awami League in Tejgaon of the capital, Obaidul Quader, the party's general secretary, said that discipline must be followed. Those who break the discipline must be punished. Sheikh Hasina's way of punishing is a little different. Those who understood, received, understood correctly. And I am reminding those who did not get it.

He said, 'We should not do any wrongdoing outside of her (party president Sheikh Hasina)'s instructions. Those who commit evil deeds are purified. Think it's quiet? Why is no one being punished? You will get! He will be punished. In the last election, 75 MPs did not get nomination. This is also punishment. So it doesn't end here. There is plenty of time to punish. Time will be calculated. No one will be spared.'

The responsible leaders of Awami League say that since public punishment is seen, its response is also direct. In that case, the leaders and workers are discouraged by breaking the party discipline. As Awami League has been in power for a long time, various beneficiary groups have been created. As a result, it is not always possible to punish immediately. Again, many times the need of the party has to be quickly pardoned. The party chief does not spare anyone even if he is not publicly punished. He took action on time.

These leaders, who did not want to be named, said that the punishment is not public, the response does not reach the grassroots. The results of which we can see in the upazila parishad elections. Despite repeated strict instructions from the party, it was not followed properly by the grassroots. Relatives of MP-ministers did not withdraw from the election. But if you want to do politics, you have to accept all the facts. We are trying to that end. As much as possible party discipline can be kept intact.

Awami League organizing Secretary Afzal Hossain told Barta24.com in response to the question whether the candidates are reluctant to obey the Center's instructions due to the lack of public punishment. We are working towards that goal. The Election Commission can make their own decisions. So we think it won't be a problem.

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Bangladeshi students in Kyrgyzstan are now doing well: Foreign Minister



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud

Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud

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Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said that Bangladeshi students are now fine in the incident of local attacks on foreign students in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

He said, so far there are no reports of any serious injuries or loss of life of Bangladeshi students.

On Monday (May 20), Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said all this in response to a question from journalists.

The Minister said that our Ambassador stationed in Tashkent in the neighboring country of Uzbekistan has been asked to go there (to Bishkek). He will reach Bishkek in the afternoon local time and visit the campus to inquire about the Bangladeshi students and take appropriate action in consultation with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign and Internal Affairs and related authorities. On the question of giving an open letter to a student to return home, the minister said that ordinary students did not make any such application.

The Foreign Minister said that he will have a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong during her visit to Dhaka on Tuesday afternoon. The Minister said that investment in Bangladesh, immigration of Bangladeshis, seasonal employment, welfare of expatriates in Australia, cooperation in energy and environment conservation will be the focus of the meeting.

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