Bangladesh Military Looks to Deepen Ties With Myanmar Counterpart

By Muktadir Rashid   26 November 2019

Bangladesh’s military wants to broaden the scope of its relations with its counterpart in Myanmar and is exploring deeper cooperation in areas such as Burmese-language skills, joint exercises and intelligence sharing.

“We have good relations with Myanmar and I will be visiting as part of efforts to deepen those ties. The main objective of the visit is to strengthen mutual cooperation between the two armies, possibly including training exchanges,” Bangladesh army chief General Aziz Ahmed told reporters in Dhaka on Monday.

Bangladesh Defense Ministry officials told The Irrawaddy they have finalized the seven-member delegation that General Aziz will lead on a weeklong visit to the neighboring country from Dec. 8.

One top-ranking Bangladeshi official said the delegation will be looking to reach agreements on joint exercises and training with the Myanmar military, as well as staff-to-staff meetings, information sharing and Burmese-language training.

The official said, “We enjoy our relations, but unfortunately Myanmar stopped sending their officials to our NDC [the National Defense College in Dhaka] in 2016. So, we want to deepen our relations through mutual cooperation”.

General Aziz said, “Our aim is to bring both armies closer and to create scope so that we can discuss various issues of mutual benefit.”

He said he recently visited China and explained to the Chinese military leadership to what extent the Rohingya crisis could pose a regional threat “from the security point of view”.

He added that Bangladesh was now working to build fences around the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Asked how the army would avoid criticism over the fencing, which is opposed by UN agencies, the army chief replied that the government had given the refugees shelter.

“Now, it is our responsibility to ensure their safety and security and that of the locals. We will discharge our duties.”

Gen. Aziz tried to improve bilateral relations following a series of border clashes in 2014 during his tenure as director-general of the Border Guard Bangladesh force. He visited Naypyitaw in June of that year to meet officials from the Myanmar Border Guard Police.

More than 730,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh since the Myanmar military launched security operations against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on Aug. 25, 2017.