Bangladesh has for the first time publicly stressed the importance of combating Islamic State (IS), against the backdrop of a growing theatre of war against the terrorist movement.
Dhaka’s first public acknowledgement of the threat was made in a joint statement that followed a meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai on Monday.
“The two sides expressed deep concern about the growing phenomenon of terrorism and stressed the importance of combating it, including ISIS,” the statement said.
The United Arab Emirates, a major regional participant in the US-led coalition against IS, wants Bangladesh on its side as it fights against the malice in Iraq and Syria, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque told the Dhaka Tribune.
Bangladesh has turned down a US request to join the military coalition it is leading against IS, saying that it would only join a UN-led humanitarian intervention.
It is Bangladeshi foreign policy to condemn all forms of terrorism irrespective of who carries it out, and to uphold the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Iraq and Syria, he said.
Bangladeshi diplomats expect that the question of joining the US-led coalition will be raised again at the third Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue on October 28-29.
Islamic State – variously known as Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham, ISIS, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL – is a notoriously violent and well-organised jihadist movement that has created a rudimentary state that it calls a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The joint statement said: “In regard to peace and security, the two sides discussed the situations in the Middle East and underscored the need for the maintenance of peace and stability for the sustainable development of the region.”
A threat to peace and security in the Middle East, IS has wrested control of a vast tract of Iraq and Syria. A UN Security Council resolution on foreign fighters and financing was adopted on September 25 and is binding on all member states.
Bangladesh has joined the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, an initiative to counter violent extremism.
The fund is a public-private partnership intended to help communities become resilient to the threats of violent extremism.
The global fund, initiated by the US and Turkey in 2013, was supported by over 20 countries and a group of major corporations. It has initial plans to raise $200 million to support pilot projects.