Mishandling the Rohingya Crisis May Open New Frontier for Terrorism

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar where they lack citizenship rights, and they head for Bangladesh. Myanmar, a country of 55 million, is more than 85 percent Buddhist; Bangladesh, with more than 160 million people and predominantly Muslim, reports a lower GDP per capita than Myanmar. The Myanmar military targeted villages in the Rakhine region, after a few hundred poorly armed fighters calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army organized attacks on more than 20 police stations – and “in a single stroke, they have brought a profound impact on the region’s geopolitical balance,” explains journalist and author Bertil Lintner. “The West is losing ground, with the refugees and Bangladesh as victims while China and India scramble to take advantage of the crisis to advance their respective security and business interests.” The crisis disrupts regional security and heightens the potential for new religious extremism emerging in the region. The West’s condemnation of Myanmar’s harsh response is warranted, Lintner concludes, but the humanitarian crisis also demands swift, practical action to prevent what could become yet another frontier for terrorism. – YaleGlobal