Friday, February 27, 2009

Economist Intelligence Unit and Oxford Analytica on BDR tragedy

Economist Intelligence Unit
It is still unclear what exactly sparked the mutiny. The BDR's main role is to patrol the country's borders and in times of war provide support to the army. Following Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971, the BDR refused to join the ranks of the army. But its senior officer positions are usually filled by army officers on short-term secondments. BDR members' complaints about this practice, as well as their inferior pay compared with their army counterparts, have been simmering for a number of years.

However, the country's state of emergency (January 2007-December 2008) probably deterred BDR troops from taking action earlier. That the government could end the mutiny so quickly with a mere promise of amnesty raises the suspicion that the government may have promised much more. But if so, details may never be made public. Indeed, the deaths of dozens of army officers during the mutiny will guarantee that tensions between the army and the BDR will remain high.

If this is not properly managed, it could lead to a total breakdown in the country's security situation. But for now, the most important outcome of the crisis is that Bangladesh's civilian government had the full support of its coup-prone army, which only retreated from politics in December 2008.

Oxford Analytica
Given its weak institutions, Bangladesh is prone to grievances such as these taking a violent manifestation -- particularly in the present conditions of high food prices and a slowing world economy. Sheikh Hasina's success at resolving the conflict while maintaining the confidence of the army will help define the credibility

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