July 15, 2008

An US military base in Bangladesh?

A secret meeting was held in Bangladesh between the US and Bangladesh authorities to discuss US Marine Corps assistance to Bangladesh in surveying and managing its borders with India. The goal is being shown as identifying routes of movement of terrorists and religious extremists. But in fact there is a deeper context. According to The Bangladesh Today:
The proposal for such a joint survey of borders with foreign military forces was violently opposed by intelligence agencies and the Armed Forces Division (AFD). Nonetheless, AFD has already received instructions from the Office of the Chief Advisor to allow such surveys with US Forces. Sources further confirm that US forces are already on ground carrying out those surveys and have in fact carried out visits to various bordering areas including Banglabandh.
It came as a surprise because USA does not have any MOU or Status of Forces Agreement with Bangladesh to carry out such activities.

BDFact has some observations in this regards:
* The US has reportedly made a proposal for surveyin Bangladesh's air fields. It is assumed that they may be allowed for the survey only in the southern region.

* The US has requested terrain intelligence information about different infrastructural installations in Dhaka City and sought ground inspection permission as such. It is learnt the concerned ministries have acquiesced with the former's proposal. It seems an attempt for Intelligence Preparation for Battle (IPB) by the former.

* In order to take part in the proposed Command Post Exercise, the US has reportedly proposed the Bangladesh Government to allow US Marine ships to come up to the inland waters at Narayanganj.

Questions have been raised if the CTG has already secretly signed the much-debated Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US which is now using the treaty provisions for requesting this kind of sensitive information.
And some speculations why the US are up to this exercise:
It is also learnt that the US forces in Iraq will be gradually pulled out very soon and some of those soldiers will be stationed in various friendly countries near to the region. Bangladesh is reportedly is chosen to house some 10,000 strong US forces, when such withdrawal takes place.

A likely place to allow camping of the US Soldiers is the Korean EPZ in Chittagong. The KEPZ has not gone into operation and acres of land are barren in the protected areas, where construction work is going for an airport runaway. It is learnt the former US Ambassador Buetenis who is now deputy head of the US Embassy in Iraq made several trips to Bangladesh recently, only to evaluate progress of works for this camp.
The question is will Bangladesh be turned into a launching pad for the US for its military forays in the neighborhood?


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