Of course, Bangladesh has never been able to say no to anything Saudi. Not since the ill-fated day that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave in to international pressure and attended the 1974 Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). Since then, we have been rotating in the Arab Oil bloc’s sphere of influence, possibly even their least expensive vassal.
The results, from creeping Wahhabisation to a broken education system, are on display today.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Bangladesh has eagerly joined a Saudi-led “Islamic anti-terrorism alliance.” But surprise or no, citizens need to speak up against this, before we hurtle over the cliff.
In 2002, Tariq Ali warned Pakistanis that great danger lay ahead in joining the US coalition that was about to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
In an interview with David Barsamian of The Progressive, he said: “[In the 1980s] Pakistan was the prophylactic that the Americans needed to enter Afghanistan … I think the Americans fished out the same prophylactic, but found it had too many holes in it. So they supplied a new one, and they’ve gone in again.”
Twelve years later, Ali returned to the Pakistani scene to assess the impact of a decade of being a willing partner in the US’s “war on terror.” In The Guardian, he grimly catalogued the horrific impact inside the country.
US drone attacks and covert CIA operations had led to full-fledged counter attacks by armed groups of “religious fundamentalists.”
In 2014 alone, the TTP (Pakistani Taliban Movement) carried out hundreds of attacks, massacring hundreds of civilians and over 50 security and military personnel.
Pakistan has been the site of scores of horrific attacks by shadowy groups (with multiple masters), targeting schools, army barracks, government offices, and five-star hotels.
Frighteningly, in spite of the Pakistani state having immense security powers, none of these attacks have been stopped. The deeper Pakistan walks into the war on terror, the more it is riven by an internal civil war.
Pakistan’s sovereignty is now not in control of the state, but many players, most operating out of sight. Is this the new world we want to walk into? Back into the Pakistan trajectory, 44 years after breaking free of that state?
Joining the Saudi coalition is an awful idea that can bring tidal waves of retaliation killing to this country in the process. Every moron and their nephew will now open a Da’esh franchise in Bangladesh.
We will soon find out how utterly hollow and empty are all the claims of RAB, police, and intel agencies about their “capabilities.”
Already stretched to the limit, they will be unable to handle any retaliation that this coalition’s activities may bring to our shores.
We have already received a taste of that during the chain of errors in recent investigations of mysterious killings.
Now, imagine those killings growing hundred-fold as every so-called “Islamist group” adds us to the list of places they want to target for revenge attacks.
The government is sleepwalking toward a disaster that could make this country fall apart if it goes wrong.
I am no soothsayer, but you can bet that something will go wrong if there is scope. The presence of the other Muslim countries in the coalition should give us no comfort, as Muslim nations have become very adept at making the wrong decisions, time and again. Bangladesh is a sovereign nation, and it must walk its own independent path.
It does not need to be part of a Saudi coalition that could put us in great danger. We have enough internal issues regarding the economy, law and order, and infrastructure.
We should focus on that, not get pulled into wars on distant lands on behalf of others. Let us stay close to home and tend to our own people. There is much work to do already.
This article first appeared at Dhaka Tribune. Click here to go to the original.