Syrian cleric confirms foreign role in Rohingya exodus

Syrian cleric confirms foreign role in Rohingya exodus

P K Balachandran,
Grand Mufti Hassoun of Syria with the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M.J.Akbar.

A leading Syrian cleric, Grand Mufti Ahmed Bader Eddin Mohammad Adib Hassoun, Syria’s highest religious authority, has confirmed India’s suspicion that an international terrorist network had a major role in triggering the latest bout of violence in Myanmar, which led to the exodus of 400,000 Rohingya Muslisms into Bangladesh, and even India.

The Grand Mufti recently visited New Delhi where he spent quality time with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J.Akbar, and National Security Advisor AjitDoval. He also briefed the Kashmir Chief Minister, Mahbooba Mufti, as Kashmir too had received Rohingyas.

Writing in his blog leading Indian journalist Saeed Naqvi says that available knowledge in the Indian Establishment on the external role in the activities of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), was reinforced by inputs from the Grand Mufti.

The story of foreign involvement in the troubles in Rakhine State of Myanmar, begins in 2012 when Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to the US, who was put in charge of Syrian affairs, and he invited a Rohingya named Hafiz Taha, to his office in Riyadh.

“Taha was given the task to develop Islamist sleeper cells in Rakhine (the State in which the Rohingyas of Myanmar live). The idea was twofold: to promote Islamism of the Wahabi variety among a people who were otherwise inclined towards a folksy form of Sufism. The second purpose was to sow seeds of long term conflict in a country abutting China’s Kunming (Yunnan). There is some anxiety in the West that parts of Mandalay are increasingly Chinese dominated,” Naqvi says.

“A long simmering conflict, intensifying over the past decade, was custom made for outsiders to ignite and cause an explosion,” he adds.

And the explosion did occur on August 25, 2017. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked 30 security forces simultaneously and brazenly claimed responsibility for it. As expected, it drew a ferocious response from the Mayanmar military.

“Military brutality never seen in history was then unleashed: security forces allegedly opened fire on fleeing civilians and planted land mines near the border crossings used by the Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh,” Naqvi writes.

Background to Foreign Role

Tracing the background of foreign involvement in the Rohingya issue, Naqvi says that after the Iranian (Shi’ite) revolution in 1979, Saudi Arabia took the lead in drumming up an anti-Shia hysteria in the Middle East and beyond.

“Riyadh had an interest in diverting the world’s attention towards Iran because a much bigger danger had reared its head within Saudi society. An anti-monarchy, radical, Islamic group had occupied Islam’s most important mosque in Mecca for weeks almost at the same time as the Iranian revolution. The Saudis needed to create Wahabi enclaves wherever they could,” Naqvi avers.

And for their own reasons, the Americans were willing to go along with the Saudi plan to use terror groups to secure shared goals. Iran was an irritant to the US too.

After the US abandoned the Afghan militants following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the militants found alternative work in Kashmir, Egypt, Algeria and so on with Saudi backing.

The US, which could not put the genii back into the bottle, found it convenient to use these militants as an auxiliary force in areas of its interest.

“Much of the cloak and dagger US operations became public either at Senate hearings on the Hill or through diplomatic leaks,” Naqvi observes.

For example, in an interview to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in 2015, President Barack Obama admitted that he had not bombed ISIS when it first reared its head because “that would have relieved pressure on Iraq’s Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki” whose departure was a US priority.

However, Naqvi says that the “cake” for flaunting terrorism as an asset goes to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan who promised a terrorism-free Sochi Olympics in February 2014 to Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, if only the Russians helped him show Bashar al Assad the door out of Damascus.”

According to Naqvi, the Rohingyas are the latest victims of the Machiavellian plots of the Big Powers.

“The Rohingyas, as a people, have become a victim of the Kafkian script written by the externally financed Rohingya Salvation Army, a group they know nothing about,” Naqvi laments.

Indian Interest

This is the reason why despite fervent pleas by the human rights lobby and sections of the Indian media, the Establishment in New Delhi has doggedly held on to the view that the 40,000 Rohingya refugees in the country could be hosting, albeit inadvertently, dangerous Wahabi terrorists funded by Saudi Arabia.

The Indian government told the Supreme Court that it has information confirming that the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar was triggered by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) under foreign influence.

India, the government asserts, cannot be used as a base for ARSAs activities and hence the decision not to allow the Rohingyas entry, and to deport whoever has already entered the country.

Indian Armed Forces’ Worry     

The suspicion that terrorists could trigger mass exoduses and ride piggy back on them to newer territories is plaguing the Indian armed forces too.

The Vice Chief of the Indian Navy, Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, told the Galle Dialogue 2017 on maritime security in Colombo on Monday, that there is a new threat on the horizon – terrorists triggering and using mass exoduses to achieve their ends.

Singh did not mention the Rohindya exodus, but it was clear he was alluding to it.