Bangladesh rejects US call to join anti-IS campaign

Anti-IS AFP

Bangladesh has said ‘no’ to the United States request to join the military campaign against Islamic State or IS, the radical Sunni group active in Iraq and Syria.

Rejecting Washington’s proposal, Bangladesh has clearly stated that Bangladesh would not take part in any military campaign, though if any UN humanitarian assistance programme  was started in Iraq and Syria, it would join that.

A senior government official informed Prothom Alo on Friday that the US State Department, through a letter sent at the beginning of this month, had requested Bangladesh to join to the anti-IS campaign. A week later Bangladesh verbally turned down the request.

The IS issue will feature in the Bangladesh-US third partnership dialogue beginning in Washington tomorrow. Bangladesh will reiterate its position there too.

Western countries are particularly eager to include a Muslim majority country like Bangladesh in the anti-IS campaign. They feel the presence of a country like Bangladesh in the campaign would make it all the more credible.

Earlier in the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly session, Bangladesh had been asked to join a ministerial-level meeting on ‘Syria: Supporting Moderate Violence’. The meeting had been organised by the UK, France, Germany and Turkey. US secretary of state John Kerry and the US foreign minister joined the meet.

Bangladesh’s former ambassador in Washington Humayun Kabir on Saturday told Prothom Alo the decision not to join the US anti-IS campaign was correct and in keeping with the country’s policy over the past three decades. Back in 2003 also Bangladesh did not respond to US’ repeated requests to join the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former air force officer and defence analyst Air Commodore (retd) Ishfaq Elahi Chowdhury, however, has a different opinion. He says that Bangladesh should have consulted Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries before rejecting the request. Also, Bangladesh had been involved in the US-led operation Desert Storm against Iraq in the early nineties.

Source: Prothom Alo

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