Why are India-Bangladesh ties a model of “good neighbor” diplomacy?

Bangladesh is a key US ally in South Asia. On issues such as regional and global security, the fight against terrorism and climate change, the two countries benefit from substantial collaboration. Bangladesh has played an important role in the major international development projects of the Obama administration, particularly in the areas of food security, health and the environment. In 2012, the two countries signed a Strategic Conversation Agreement. In 2015, Marcia Bernicat, the United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, called the relationship “dynamic, multifaceted, and significant.

The United States’ strategy with Bangladesh places great importance on political stability, human rights and democracy. Bangladesh is also considered by the United States as a moderate Muslim friend among Islamic countries.

The United States is one of Bangladesh’s most important strategic military partners. Defense cooperation between the United States and Bangladesh is growing day by day. Regular joint exercises are practiced, especially in the Bay of Bengal. The United States Pacific Command regularly engages the Bangladesh Armed Forces. The United States has also helped train the Bangladesh Navy’s elite SWADS marine unit, which is modeled after US and South Korean special forces.

Bangladesh is the largest donor to UN peacekeeping operations in the world. Bangladeshi peacekeeping missions have benefited greatly from US sponsorship.

Strong and expanding economic ties between the two nations are the foundation of U.S.-Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh has suddenly become one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the past five decades. Bangladesh is on track to become the world’s 24th largest economy in 10 years, with an expected growth rate of 7.2% in 2022. Bangladesh’s growth and resilience rely on development and foreign direct investment, and governments United remain a dedicated partner.

Bangladesh is located in the heart of the Indo-Pacific, a region the Biden-Harris administration has prioritized for economic connectivity, bilateral relations are also centered on shared democratic values, free enterprise, supply chains resilient, as well as the prosperity and health of both. country people.

We see important areas of engagement that could be strengthened to deepen defense and security cooperation as the two mark 50 years of U.S.-Bangladesh relations on April 04, 2022.

This was particularly the case during the pandemic, when Bangladesh delivered over 6 million pieces of personal protective equipment to the United States during the catastrophic first wave of Covid-19.

However, 2021 has been a difficult year for U.S.-Bangladesh relations. Washington had imposed sanctions on the Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and several current and former officers for a long history of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions on December 10, 2021. The Biden administration did not not invite Bangladesh to the virtual democracy summit that same month.

The United States recently released a report on the state of human rights in 198 countries in 2021. Bangladesh has been accused of human rights abuses by the country’s State Department.

According to the research, there has been widespread impunity for security force abuses and corruption in Bangladesh. But Bangladesh criticized the report.

Among these, the signing of a draft defense cooperation agreement during Nuland’s visit to Dhaka illustrates this effort. However, Washington may continue to view Dhaka as a security partner in the region. The United States now wants to build a strategic relationship with Bangladesh.

United States President Joe Biden has expressed his belief that the Dhaka-Washington relationship will thrive over the next 50 years and beyond.

In a letter to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he noted that “our defense cooperation is stronger than ever,” the US president said, adding that the Bangladesh Coast Guard and Navy are essential allies. to guarantee a free and open Indo-Pacific area, as well as to contribute to the regional fight against human trafficking and illicit drug trafficking.

According to US government websites, Bangladesh received $66.9 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) and $7.29 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance from the United States. United since 2015. FMF funding includes $10 million in bilateral programs and $56.9 million. in the regional FMF for the Bay of Bengal Initiative. Through FMF support, the Department of State’s Bay of Bengal Initiative aims to improve the ability of civilian and military actors to detect illicit activities within their borders and in the region, to build networks and habits of cooperation to enable countries to share information, develop their ability to respond quickly to illicit activities, and help our partners establish a rules-based order in the Indian Ocean region.

In support of the Indo-Pacific strategy, U.S. security assistance to Bangladesh has enhanced maritime security, freedom of navigation, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response capabilities. These funds were used to purchase patrol boats for the Bangladesh Army, additional patrol boats for the navy, international peacekeeping and border security missions; electronic and mechanical upgrades to fast patrol boats from the Bangladesh Navy and former US Coast Guard; technical and vocational training of Bangladeshi military and coastguard personnel; and joint military exercises. This assistance has greatly assisted Bangladesh in its efforts to improve its knowledge and control of the maritime domain.

On April 18, Bangladeshi Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed visited the United States at the invitation of US Army Chief of Staff General James C McConville, a statement said. of ISPR. This visit could help strengthen bilateral defense ties. Bilateral defense ties can strengthen bilateral relations. The United States needs Bangladesh in the region and vice versa. This visit conveyed the message that despite some bilateral problems, both countries are very interested in further strengthening bilateral relations. It can help solve bilateral problems. Bangladesh and the United States must engage as trusted partners to address some common issues.

According to media reports, HM Shafiuddin Ahmed paid a courtesy call on General Daniel R Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James M Martin, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant General Eric M Smith and Southeast Asia Director General Laurie Abel of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy April 20-22.

During the meetings, issues of common interest to both forces were discussed, including United Nations peacekeeping missions and post-disaster humanitarian assistance.

According to the press release, the Army Chief of Staff was also inducted into the Near East and South Asia Center (NESA) Hall of Fame as an alumnus of the program. National Defense University NESA.

UN officials have expressed interest in sending more Bangladeshi peacekeepers to the UN. The Bangladesh Army Chief has requested that the Bangladeshi contingents of the UN peacekeeping force replace their old weapons and equipment with new weapons and equipment from Bangladesh.

The Chief of the Armed Forces met Gilles Michaud, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Department of Security and Safety; Major General Maureen O’Brien, acting military adviser; Mohammed Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary General (ASG), Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs; Christian Saunders, ASG, Operational Support Department; and Police Advisor Luis Ribeiro Carrilho during his visit to United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 25-26.

According to a press release from the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, the conversations were quite fruitful and highlighted many facets of the vital commitment of Bangladeshi peacekeepers to UN operations.

During the meetings, the army chief stressed Bangladesh’s constitutional commitment to world peace and raised questions regarding Bangladesh’s interest in UN peacekeeping operations, such as that the recruitment of more Bangladeshi peacekeepers, including women, the appointment of senior military officials in various peacekeeping operations, participation in peacekeeping missions in collaboration with d other countries, the deployment of armed personnel carriers from Bangladesh and the recruitment of armed personnel carriers from Bangladesh.

The United States intends to help Bangladesh modernize and institutionalize its armed forces by providing defense equipment and training.

The United States highlighted the signing of two defense agreements – GSOMIA and ACSA – which serve as the foundation for defense trade and cooperation.

However, the majority of US military assistance to Bangladesh takes the form of training for defense professionals and joint exercises between two forces. The United States Pacific Command regularly engages the Bangladesh Armed Forces. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper visited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and discussed, among other things, military cooperation between the two countries. The Bangladeshi army chief paid his visit to the United States this month after the successful “security partnership dialogue” in April. 2022 in Dhaka. This visit is very important for Bangladesh and the United States in the region. The United States and Bangladesh further strengthened their defense ties through this visit.

Rebecca R. Santistevan