Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bangladesh situation

A BBC analysis suggests that the recent mutiny by members of the Bangladesh Rifles (a paramilitary border-guard force) has redounded to the benefit of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, who made it clear that she was in control and prevented the army -- more than a hundred of whose officers were killed by the mutineers -- from taking matters into its own hands. In Bangladesh, which only recently emerged from a period of de facto military rule, this outcome is welcome (although of course the mutiny and the killing of army officers are not). (Update, 3/6: I think the death toll now stands at 74.)

The BBC piece does not ask whether Bangladesh needs, in any objective sense, a border-guard force of 70,000. My knowledge of the issues on the country's borders is patchy, so I don't know the answer to that. Even if the answer is no, the fact that the border force provides jobs for 70,000 people, even with apparently low pay (which triggered the mutiny), is not insignificant.


bro said...

2 points of interest:
1) lack of coverage in US press, given such a major event & death toll.
2) return of the word "mutiny" to the english language.

LFC said...

Yes, #2 is esp. interesting. (On #1, there was a 10-second mention of this event on the PBS Newshour roundup one night -- but if anyone was distracted for an instant they missed it.)

Anonymous said...

The army's leadership must be decimated, which in turn will have repercussions down the road. A lot of institutional knowledge (not to mention skeletons) has been lost as a result of the killings.

LFC said...

I'm sure that's right. And I saw the other day that the Bangladesh govt blocked access to YouTube after someone posted a video of a meeting between S.Hasina and army officers (as the drama was unfolding, I think).

hank_F_M said...

The officers of the Bangladesh Rifles are army officers detailed to that service. I got the impression that the officers who were killed were officers assigned to the Bangladesh Rifles. There does not seem to be many casualties amoung Army officers not on this detial, the army leadership is problly intact. It seem that this assignment is used to park officers the Army does not want in important positions, which had something to do with creating the grievances to begin with.

Assuming it was an internal dispute it is probably significant that it did no come to head until the end of Army rule. I would not be surprised if the Rifles get a reorganization that gets them an upgrade in conditions of service, equipment, their own officers, and the ability to be a balance to the Army.

Yes, the drama is beginning to unfold.

LFC said...

Interesting points. I guess the Army leadership is still intact, but I doubt the whole thing was pleasant for them. I don't know the details of what's going on, however.