Ro­hingya cri­sis: Is there a Saudi role?

The Asian Age - - Edit - Saeed Naqvi

to pro­mote Is­lamism of the Wa­habi va­ri­ety among a peo­ple who were oth­er­wise in­clined to­wards a folksy form of Su­fism.

In her study on the Ro­hingyas for the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions, Eleanor Al­bert’s ver­sion tal­lies with the Mufti’s nar­ra­tive on how the trou­ble started in Rakhine in Au­gust. Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army “claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for at­tacks on po­lice and army posts”. Is it any sur­prise that the govern­ment de­clared ARSA a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion? It was then that the mil­i­tary mounted a “bru­tal cam­paign that de­stroyed hun­dreds of Ro­hingya vil­lages and forced more than 500,000 Ro­hingya to leave Myan­mar, ap­prox­i­mately half of the Ro­hingya pop­u­la­tion out of the coun­try”.

Mil­i­tary bru­tal­ity on a scale never seen in his­tory was then un­leashed: the se­cu­rity forces al­legedly opened fire on flee­ing civil­ians and planted land­mines near the border cross­ings used by the Ro­hingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

A long-sim­mer­ing con­flict, in­ten­si­fy­ing over the past decade, was cus­tom-made for out­siders to ig­nite and cause an ex­plo­sion. This pre­cisely is what ap­pears to have been pre­cip­i­tated in Rakhine state two months ago. “But why would sleep­ing cells be ac­ti­vated now?” Well, one les­son learnt from man­u­fac­tured ter­ror­ist groups is this: groups reared on lethal Is­lam can­not be de­stroyed. They have to be re­lo­cated. The de­feat of mil­i­tant groups in Syria has, iron­i­cally, cre­ated an­other kind of prob­lem. Trained with Western

The de­feat of mil­i­tant groups in Syria has, iron­i­cally, cre­ated an­other kind of prob­lem. Trained with Western and Saudi help, th­ese trained ter­ror­ists have to be given work else­where... and Saudi help, th­ese trained ter­ror­ists can­not be “ex­ter­mi­nated” or sent to the gas cham­bers. They have to be given work else­where.

In the Syr­ian who­dunit, the Amer­i­cans have ac­tu­ally been ad­mit­ting their mis­takes with en­dear­ing docil­ity. Re­mem­ber for­mer sec­re­tary of de­fence Ash­ton Carter, his face dis­tinctly in the lower mould, be­ing grilled by a US con­gres­sional com­mit­tee, then by the me­dia, for the clum­si­ness of US spe­cial op­er­a­tions in Syria? The “mod­er­ates” they were train­ing had left their weapons with the AlNusra Front and sought safe pas­sage. Mr Carter an­nounced, on live TV, that a $500 mil­lion train­ing pro­gramme had been dis­con­tin­ued.

Re­mem­ber Gen. Lloyd Austin ad­mit­ted to the Sen­ate’s armed ser­vices com­mit­tee that “only four or five” fight­ers trained by the Amer­i­cans were “in the fight”.

In an in­ter­view to Thomas Fried­man of the New York Times in 2015, for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­mit­ted that he had not bombed ISIS when it first reared its head be­cause “that would have re­lieved pres­sure on Iraq’s Shia Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al Ma­liki” whose de­par­ture, and not ISIS’ elim­i­na­tion, was a US pri­or­ity.

The cake for flaunt­ing ter­ror­ism as an as­set goes to Ban­dar bin Sul­tan, who promised a “ter­ror­ism-free Sochi Olympics” in Fe­bru­ary 2014 to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin at the Krem­lin if only the Rus­sians helped him show Bashar al-As­sad the door out of Da­m­as­cus.

The plight of the Ro­hingyas in the ex­o­dus is even more heart­break­ing as they have no clue of the Kafkian script which has ma­li­ciously af­fil­i­ated then with the ex­ter­nally-fi­nanced Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army, a group most of the refugees know ab­so­lutely noth­ing about.

The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist and com­men­ta­tor based in New Delhi

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