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John Kerry came to Dhaka for a few hours. The Obama government's former secretary of state Kerry is now the climate change affairs special envoy to US president Joe Biden. He had earlier visited Dhaka as secretary of state. He is fully aware of Bangladesh's leadership, politics and diplomacy.

He came to Dhaka to invite prime minister Sheikh Hasina to attend the climate change summit. Joe Biden is returning to the climate deal through this summit of world leaders. Former president Donald Trump withdrew from the deal. John Kerry said an initiative has been taken to create a fund of USD 100 billion to assist the countries affected by the climate change and to reduce the pollution worldwide. He also mentioned that his trip will strengthen ties between two countries.

There is no doubt that the move to improve relations includes geopolitics in this region. Kerry, however, did not talk about the alliance of Indo-Pacific states. That is not his job. While talking about democracy in Myanmar and the repatriation of Rohingya, he lauded Bangladesh. It is clear that this western country is drawing Bangladesh closes. Recently India has also been making the same effort. The importance of Bangladesh is increasing not only as a country in the region of the Bay of Bengal, but also due to deteriorating economic and military relations between the US and China. Bangladesh has joined China's Belt and Road Initiative. However, Kerry makes clear the US is not viewing Bangladesh through the eyes of India. Kerry's brief trip also indicates the Biden's administration is not following the principles of Trump.

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It seems as if the Rohingya issue is a crisis of Bangladesh alone. Kerry, however, urged the international community to solve the Rohingya crisis. Perhaps not much more than this can be expected from the US. Bangladesh has to keep up diplomatic pressure. The matter has to be raised in the global climate summit. It has to be highlighted how 1.1 million Rohingyas are damaging the environment in Bangladesh.

Although Kerry's statement on Rohingya is very important, the US has done nothing other than express assurance and appreciation. Kerry talked a bit about the past and present of Myanmar. He said he talked to Myanmar leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi and the generals about the Rohingya issue at that time. But it is a matter of regret that the western countries including the US did not act when Rohingyas were being persecuted between 2012 and 2017 in consensus with the so-called democratic leader.

At that time, western world and even India were busy appeasing Myanmar. The scenario started turning around when around 1.1 million Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh and the devastating picture of ethnic cleansing was revealed by the international media and UN. The US administration even then was not serious.

The concern of the western world is growing anew over the situation in Myanmar. Under the present situation, the issue of Rohingya is no more a priority to Myanmar. The military junta is now busy to protect themselves. Most analyses agree that the western world, especially the US, is behind the public anger against the military force, though this is not overtly stated.

Another big problem for military junta is the public anger against China. The establishments of Chinese businessmen in the special economic zone of Yangon were set on fire on 17 March. Although there are factories of Singapore, Japan and South Korea in the economic zone, the attacks on the Chinese establishments and the vandalism of their cars have been projected as the public anger. China reacted angrily over the incidents.

China is for the first time worried over the internal situation of Myanmar. Although they did not put pressure publicly on the military junta, China urged them to address the problem quickly. China is losing trust in the Myanmar people. The Myanmar junta is also anxious about China. It is believed that the deadly attack on the Myanmar military by Karen National Liberation Army on 27 March has been carried out with the silent support of China. The situation has deteriorated. Other groups, especially Kachin Independence Army, after remaining silent for several months, is preparing to carry out attacks on the military. These is also the evidence of pressure on the military junta. Analysts think that China is indirectly giving a message to Myanmar to swiftly solve the crisis.

It seems as if the Rohingya issue is a crisis of Bangladesh alone. Kerry, however, urged the international community to solve the Rohingya crisis. Perhaps not much more than this can be expected from the US. Bangladesh has to keep up diplomatic pressure. The matter has to be raised in the global climate summit. It has to be highlighted how 1.1 million Rohingyas are damaging the environment in Bangladesh.

In such a context, to reduce the internal and external pressure, the Myanmar military junta has announced that they would arrange an election within two years as per the constitution of 2008. There is no doubt that Aung Sun Suu Kyi will not come to the power through the new election. Many think China has consent to this. On the contrary, the western world and ASEAN want the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, but there is no evidence that they are backing Suu Kyi. So far there is no support for the formation of an exile government of Suu Kyi.

So it seems the Myanmar government and the junta are not going to take any step to solve the Rohingya crisis in the next two years. On the contrary, the geopolitics strategy of the western world would be to turn Myanmar anti-China. Rohingya is not the main issue here. As a result, Rohingya issue is not getting any priority in the international arena including to Kerry or the Biden administration. So it does not seem the US or the international arena has any intention or power to put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas.

The situation of ASEAN countries is similar. China and India are busy in an effort to exert their own influence. Rohingya is not in their priority either.

*This article, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam

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