Rohingya refugee crisis a ‘grave security risk’, ICG warns

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army may “shift to cross-border attacks” using Bangladesh as a base for recruitment and training, conflict analysts ICG warned on Thursday. Above, a young Rohingya refugee holds a toy gun at the Shamlapur camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (AP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Rohingya refugee crisis a ‘grave security risk’, ICG warns

YANGON: Prolonged displacement of Rohingya refugees in squalid Bangladeshi camps poses a “grave security risk,” conflict analysts ICG warned Thursday, raising the specter of militants recruiting among the displaced and launching cross-border attacks on Myanmar.
Raids by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25 sparked the vicious Myanmar army response, which has forced more than 620,000 Rohingya to flee Rakhine state for Bangladesh.
ARSA “appears determined to regroup and remain relevant” and may draw on desperate Rohingya refugees languishing in camps for future operations, the ICG International Crisis Group said in the report.
The group may “shift to cross-border attacks” using Bangladesh as a base for recruitment and training, the study said, cautioning the risk of an ever-deepening cycle of violence is all too real.
“Such attacks would have profoundly negative consequences,” straining Myanmar-Bangladesh relations and worsening contempt for the Rohingya “that would further diminish prospects of an eventual refugee return.”
Global outcry over the refugee crisis, one of the worst in recent history, has triggered a hyper-defensive response inside the country, where anti-Rohingya attitudes have hardened since ARSA’s emergence.
Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group eligible for citizenship, instead calling them “Bengali,” suggesting they are illegal immigrants.
In another serious looming risk, ICG warned that Rohingya’s plight has become a “cause celebre of the Muslim world” with Al-Qaeda, Daesh and other global jihadi groups calling for attacks on Myanmar.
Myanmar’s military has repeatedly used the terror threat to justify its campaign in northern Rakhine state.
ARSA has distanced itself from any wider global cause for jihad, saying it is only fighting to protect Rohingya rights.
International pressure is ratcheting up on Myanmar.
This week the UN rights chief said Myanmar’s crackdown on the Rohingya showed possible “elements of genocide,” as calls for the safe and sustainable repatriation of refugees grows.
Myanmar refutes any wrongdoing saying it was forced into a defensive action by ARSA attacks.
It has agreed with Bangladesh to start repatriation of “eligible” refugees within a few months.
But there are widespread doubts over how many Rohingya can prove they are entitled to return to Rakhine, or want to go back to areas riddled with communal mistrust and where their villages were razed.
China, a key strategic ally of Myanmar, is pitching itself as an arbiter in the crisis, and has repeatedly urged the international community to take a softline on Myanmar.
But pressure is mounting in the West — particularly Washington — to reimpose targeted sanctions on Myanmar military figures.
Sanctions were slowly rolled back in recent years as reward for democratic gains after decades of outright junta rule.
The ICG study said any fresh sanctions would backfire by isolating Myanmar and calcifying hatred toward the Rohingya.


Steve Bannon planning foundation to boost far right in Europe: report

France's far-right party Front National (FN) president Marine Le Pen (R) applauds former US President advisor Steve Bannon after his speech during the Front National party annual congress, on March 10, 2018 at the Grand Palais in Lille, northern France. (AFP)
Updated 24 min 27 sec ago
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Steve Bannon planning foundation to boost far right in Europe: report

  • The organization will likely be based out of Brussels initially and has set its sights on the 2019 European parliament elections

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s controversial former adviser Steve Bannon plans to set up a foundation in Europe called “The Movement” to spark a populist rightwing revolt, according to a report.
Bannon envisages the organization rivalling George Soros’ Open Foundation, which has given away $32 billion to liberal causes since it was established in 1984, according to the report by the Daily Beast published late Friday.
The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research.
He told the Daily Beat he was convinced the coming years will see an end to decades of European integration.
“Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That’s what will govern,” he said. “You’re going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders.”
He added he had held talks with right-wing groups across the continent, from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East.
The organization will likely be based out of Brussels initially and has set its sights on the 2019 European parliament elections.
The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign and his election victory, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was nicknamed the “Prince of Darkness” and the “Shadow President.”
His economic nationalism became the lynchpin of Trump policies, even as many of his other ideas were rebuffed by policy rivals.
After new Chief of Staff John Kelly arrived, Bannon’s constant clashes with other advisers became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right, which drew accusations that Trump fostered racists. Bannon left the White House last August.