Why is the United States so worried about RAB in Bangladesh?

The elite force formed under the Bangladesh Police is the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). RAB was formed on March 26, 2004 for the purpose of combating terrorism. Special A Bahini started official operations on April 14 of the same year. The force consists of Army, Navy, Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Ansar. They have no officers of their own.

According to the Armed Police Battalions Act 2003, each battalion of the RAB is headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Deputy Inspector General or his equivalent.

  • Since its formation, RAB has been playing a special role in counter-terrorism in Bangladesh. However, these forces have sometimes been accused of human rights violations. Although much of RAB’s training is in the US and the UK, in December 2021, the US imposed sanctions on RAB and six of its officers for alleged involvement in ‘serious human rights violations’. Immediately after this ban, the government took a strong initiative to withdraw it on behalf of Bangladesh. Still, the water was no less murky. Even after 8 long months, the US has not lifted the ban.
  • Meanwhile, one of the world’s superpowers, the United States, suddenly became worried about the democracy of Bangladesh after the Biden administration came to power. They want to organize the ‘reestablishment of democracy’ in Bangladesh. The ban on RAB is a prime example.
  • The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFC) published a notification on its website banning RABs.
  • The six officials who have been sanctioned are Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun (current Director General of RAB), Benazir Ahmed (former Director General of RAB, January 2015-April 2020), Khan Mohammad Azad (current Additional Director General-Operations), Tofail Mustafa Sarwar (former Additional Director General of RAB). -Operations, June 2019-March 2021), Mohammad Jahangir Alam (Former Additional Director General-Operations, September 2018-June 2019), and Mohammad Anwar Latif Khan (Former Additional Director General-Operations, April-2016-September 2018).
  • The RAB has received training from the United States and the United Kingdom since its inception. Almost everything from the operation of this force, from search, interrogation, has been under the supervision of these two countries. Even WikiLeaks data reveals that the RAB has worked in counter-terrorism under US and UK training. However, in 2021, the United States imposed sanctions on senior RAB officials. And the spokespersons of the country are giving various statements to explain this.
  • In such a situation, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said that RAB was created by the United States and the United Kingdom. They have trained and skilled these forces. The US taught the RAB their rules and discipline. How to deal with people, how to interrogate (how to intergration) – the US taught RAB all this. US State Department has admitted that we have reduced terrorism here (Bangladesh) because of RAB.
  • Recently, after Bangladesh Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed was invited to the conference of police chiefs organized by the United Nations in New York, the topic of ban came into discussion again. Apart from this, whenever the representatives of the two countries meet at any level, there is criticism about the various activities of the law enforcement forces,

questions are raised about human rights and extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh.

Why is the United States so worried about RAB in Bangladesh?

  • Last Tuesday (August 16) Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had a meeting with US Ambassador Peter Haas assigned to Dhaka. After the meeting, Peter Haas told reporters, “We discussed not only the law and order situation, but various aspects of bilateral relations.” Law and order in this country has improved considerably. However, the United States wants to work more to improve the skills of the law enforcement forces of this country with the aim of eliminating terrorism and militancy.
  • After the meeting, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that the ambassador was informed that the RAB-Police are conducting their activities in accordance with the law. The United States will take a positive decision regarding Benazir Ahmed’s participation in the UN-organized conference of police chiefs in New York from August 31.
  • When asked about this on Wednesday (August 17) night, security analyst Major General (retd) Mohammad Ali Shikdar told Shaam Sangamb that when two countries have relations, if there is a disagreement in one place, the rest of the cooperation will stop – this is not the case. See, Bangladesh’s second largest export market is Europe. That’s several billion dollars a year. They are ongoing and ongoing.
  • Regarding the assurance of military cooperation given by Peter Haas recently, this analyst said, Look, military cooperation has never stopped. It always goes on. So what you are saying is a field. It is never applicable in all cases. Training of various military forces is still going on in the United States at an equal pace. Inter-state relations cannot progress if the issue of a place is stuck.
    In response to the question of what should be done about the ban, he said, efforts should be made to remove the ban. Apart from this, at the same time, we need to expand our cooperation in other areas. For example, the policy of the United States to combat terrorism is also our policy. That is zero tolerance. Here we agree. When things are going well, why don’t we work together? And to solve the problem with RAB, we have to maintain other diplomatic activities. Where there is a problem, there will be discussion and where there is cooperation, there must be cooperation.

Regarding RAB’s military training, he said, now many army officers go there for their training. Many military officers later joined the RAB. Because RAB does not have its own officers. Meanwhile, many people come to our Defense College in Mirpur from the United States. We have a UN peacekeeping training center here.

When asked about the same, another security analyst, Major General (retd) Abdur Rashid, told the Times that the United States continues to protect its interests. Bangladesh is undoubtedly an important country in the US Indo-Pacific strategy in terms of geopolitics.

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