- It seems the US is leaning towards the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which gets a lot of support from the Islamists who want Sharia law implemented in one of the most secular Muslim-majority countries.
- With Bangladesh’s upcoming general election scheduled for January 2024, various Islamist groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP, are vigorously striving to regain power with the backing of Western governments, particularly the Biden administration.
- Many are calling the regime change in Bangladesh a checking mechanism for India which the US sees as a possible opponent in two decades as its economy grows fast.
(This article was first published in The Commune Mag. Republished with permission)
There are clear signs that the United States of America is interfering in the affairs of Bangladesh and trying to get rid of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Elections are set to place in Bangladesh in January 2024, with the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, seeking a third consecutive term.
Sheikh Hasina has held the position of Prime Minister in the country since 2009 and is known for her centrist political views and has been very active on the international stage, representing Bangladesh in various global forums and advocating for issues such as climate change, refugee crises, and regional cooperation. However, now the incumbent is in trouble with the US which wants a political change to take place.
Now it seems the US is leaning towards the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded in 1978 by General Ziaur Rahman, a former military officer who became the country’s President. BNP at present gets a lot of support from the Islamists who want Sharia law implemented in one of the most secular Muslim-majority countries.
Just two months before the elections, there are allegations that the United States government, its agencies, and the media with ties to them are involved in a “regime change operation” in Bangladesh. Efforts are currently underway to manipulate the public’s perception of the current Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, portraying her as an “authoritarian leader.” The Joe Biden-led US government is being accused of interfering in the election process under the guise of “protecting democracy” and ensuring “free and fair elections” in the Islamic Republic.
Also, whenever the photo of a political leader from Asia, Africa, or South America appears in Time Magazine, it must be understood that their time has run out. The US which has powerful state and non-state agencies is utilizing its supportive media outlets, and local representatives in Bangladesh with the resolute in its pursuit of a ‘regime change initiative’ under the pretext of reinstating democratic governance.
In fact, in a statement, Hasina said, “They (US) are trying to eliminate democracy and introduce a government that will not have a democratic existence…It’ll be an undemocratic action,”. In her own Parliament, she said, “They are trying to eliminate democracy and introduce a government that will not have a democratic existence,”.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who is a journalist based in Bangladesh has been writing for months about how the US has been interfering in Bangladesh’s internal politics.
In an article that he wrote for OpIndia, Choudhury says, “During the past fourteen years, Sheikh Hasina has been committedly confronting Islamists and jihadists thus forcing Islamists on the run. But, despite his disastrous retreat from Afghanistan and pushing the country to the mercy of Taliban mullahs, it seems US President Joe Biden did not learn any lesson. He is now repeating the same blunder in Bangladesh by extending patronization to Islamist forces in Bangladesh, especially Jamaat-e-Islami and their ideological partner Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).“
With Bangladesh’s upcoming general election scheduled for January 2024, various Islamist groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP, are vigorously striving to regain power with the backing of Western governments, particularly the Biden administration. Due to the determined efforts and lobbying of these Islamist factions, the Biden administration is currently in the process of invoking the Global Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on a substantial number of leaders from the ruling party, as well as members of civil and military administrations, on allegations of corruption and money laundering. These measures could potentially serve as a justification for these Islamist groups to garner increased local support in the country.
In 2014, Islamists conducted organized bombings and arson incidents targeting religious minority groups, notably singling out the Hindu community. This was in retaliation for their perceived “offence” of supporting the Awami League in the elections. During this period, Hefazat called for the transformation of Bangladesh into a Caliphate, while the BNP and Jamaat demanded the reinstatement of a “caretaker government” system to supervise elections, a practice that had been eliminated by Bangladesh’s Jatiya Sangshad (National Parliament).
For a long time unable to find any political traction, Jamaat-e-Islami and its ideological partner, the BNP, have consistently labelled Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leaders of the ruling Awami League as “agents of Hindus and India” which is a powerful call to divide this secular country.
In certain statements, both Jamaat and BNP have accused Sheikh Hasina of appointing Hindus to influential positions within government offices, the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary. They have even gone so far as to assert that Sheikh Hasina is transforming Bangladesh into a Hindu-dominated state or a subservient entity to India. Regrettably, these harmful assertions have not been adequately refuted by the ruling party or the state apparatus.
Many are calling the regime change in Bangladesh a checking mechanism for India which the US sees as a possible opponent in two decades as its economy grows fast. The US has a history of interfering in the affairs of other nations often toppling governments through election manipulation or violent revolution. The US now sees India as the hegemon power in Asia which can provide net security.
As India also heads for a general election in 2024, what is now taking place in Bangladesh is an ominous sign taking place right in its neighbourhood.
(Balaji is a political commentator and columnist. He tweets @LaxmanShriram78. Opinions expressed are the author’s own)