US intel chief: Rohingya crisis opens up terrorist recruitment opportunities

US intel chief: Rohingya crisis opens up terrorist recruitment opportunities

More than 689,360 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh from August 25, 2017 till February 11, 2018.

America’s top spymaster has warned that the ongoing Rohingya crisis might result in expanded terrorist recruitment opportunities in the region.

Such terrorist recruitment would increase tension between Bangladesh and Myanmar, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Tuesday.

He said: “The turmoil resulting from more than 600,000 Rohingyas fleeing from Burma [Myanmar] to Bangladesh increases regional tension and may expand opportunities for terrorist recruitment in South and Southeast Asia.”

“Further operations by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya insurgents or sustained violence by ethnic Rakhine militias would probably make the repatriation difficult,” Coats said during the hearing on “Worldwide Threat Assessment” of the US intelligence community.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies on worldwide threats during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 13, 2018 | AFP

Coats said democracy and human rights in many Southeast Asian countries will remain fragile in 2018 as autocratic tendencies deepen in some regimes and rampant corruption and cronyism undermine democratic values.

Countries in the region will struggle to preserve foreign policy autonomy in the face of Chinese economic and diplomatic coercion, he said.

“The crisis resulting from the exodus of the Rohingyas will threaten Myanmar’s fledgling democracy, increase the risk of violent extremism, and provide openings for Beijing to expand its influence,” Coats said.

The Bangladesh government’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) stated that more than 689,360 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh from August 25, 2017 till February 11, 2018.

The Rohingya mass exodus was triggered by a brutal military campaign perpetrated by the Myanmar Army and local Moghs. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are currently living in the two upazilas of Cox’s Bazar.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingyas as citizens and force many of them to live in squalid camps in apartheid-like condition. Dhaka and Naypyidaw have signed an agreement to send the Rohingyas back to their homeland.

After signing a bilateral deal in November 2017, the repatriation was scheduled to begin last month, but it got delayed.

Source: Dhaka Tribune.

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