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US wants to unseat Sheikh Hasina by 2023

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been at the center of political discussions in Bangladesh, especially after claiming to overthrow the Awami League government on December 10 last year. The party’s optimism stemmed from a secret message allegedly received from former American diplomat William B Milam, known for his connections within the Democratic Party.

The message reportedly promised sanctions on key leaders of the ruling Awami League, leading BNP to plan a massive rally and seat-in on December 10, 2022 to take advantage of the perceived crisis.

William B Milam, former American diplomat, who is considered as an influential figure within the house of Democrats. Ambassador Milam has access to a very large number of Democratic Party leaders, including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden.

Sometime during October 2022, William B Milam passed a secret message to BNP’s acting chairman and a convicted terrorist Tarique Rahman through Tarique’s man named Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey giving assurance of series of sanctions on a large number of the leaders of ruling Awami League, including some of the high-profile ministers as well as civil-military officials by December 10. On hearing this news, Tarique Rahman personally spoke to Ambassador Milam a couple of times. 

Later he conveyed a message to a selected number of BNP leaders, including at least two of the members of party’s Standing Committee instructing to hold a “massive” rally in Dhaka city on December 10 and take “necessary preparations” for a seat-in once the United States publishes a press release declaring sanctions.

He had chalked-out a detail plan about turning BNP’s party office area into another “Tahrir Square”, while Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey had repeatedly guaranteed Tarique Rahman of Washington’s “strong directives” to Awami League government to resign and handover power to a “neutral caretaker government” latest by December 15.

With this “solid information” an enthusiastic Tarique Rahman had directed BNP leaders to ensure availability of “sufficient” food stock to feed those party activists who would gather in front of BNP’s office at Naya Paltan area in the city.

As similar message was also communicated to Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus by few of this confidante in the Washington DC, he had established contact with Ambassador Milam and was told that Tarique Rahman has given nod to Yunus for heading the caretaker government once Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resigns and hands over power. Muhammad Yunus was also given assurance by Tarique Rahman of presidency once BNP returned to power following a general election held under caretaker government by March 2023.

Meanwhile, BNP, Muhammad Yunus and a few other elements, including the family members of war criminals, started enthusiastically pursuing the Biden administration and US Department of State to enhance the size of sanctioned individuals.

By mid-November 2022, several front-ranking leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party too were secretly told by Tarique Rahman about the “confirmed” ouster of Awami League government by December 15, 2022. They were asked to ensure the presence of “at least one million” people during the December 10 rally of BNP in Dhaka.

BNP top-brasses also had conveyed the message of possible collapse of Awami League government by December 10, 2022 to several influential leaders of Islamist forces in Dhaka, including Khelafat Andolan and Hefazat-e-Islam and asked them to send “at least two hundred thousand” people to join BNP’s rally at Naya Paltan area by the evening of December 10.

It may be mentioned here that, on December 10, 2021, the US Department of Treasury had imposed sanctions of several officers of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force of Bangladesh Police, on allegations of ‘serious human rights abuse”.

By the noon of December 10, 2022, BNP leaders had realized their firm belief of sanctions targeting “dozens” of leaders of Awami League was not prolific or was based on blank speculations. Hearing this news, Tarique Rahman was thunder-shocked, while several front-ranking leaders of the party were heart-broken. It had put them into serious jeopardy as they were secretly taking preparations for the sudden collapse of the Awami League government and handing over power to a caretaker government which would be dominated by pro-BNP and pro-Islamist individuals.

But the conspiracy has not stopped yet.

As Bangladesh is heading towards another general election, which is expected to be held by January 9, 2024, Bangladesh Nationalist Party has re-accelerated its efforts of getting dozens of the front-ranking figures of the ruling Awami League under US sanctions as well as sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act by December 10, 2023.

On August 1, 2023, US Ambassador Peter Haas while meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said, US will send a monitoring team in early October to assess the pre-polls situation ahead of Bangladesh’s parliamentary elections.

According to Ambassador Haas, the team will comprise experts from the National Democratic Institute. International Republican Institute, and people with vast experience in election monitoring and election preparations.

Although the US ambassador did not provide the detailed schedule of the team, a highly-placed source in Washington DC told me, it is going to take place sometime during the second week of October. Meanwhile, BNP top-brasses, including Tarique Rahman have been suggested by Washington to take preparations for participating in the next general election. Accordingly, the party is secretly working on the list of possible candidates, which is being directly handled by Tarique Rahman and a few of his inner-circle individuals.

Reason behind such preparations of joining the election is – Tarique Rahman is already aware that the US delegation which will visit Bangladesh in October will determine if a free and fair election is possible under the ruling Awami League government. It will thoroughly scrutinize several factors, including background of the key officials of the Election Commission, possible list of election observers, human rights and freedom of expression, and above all – the actual on-ground reality about the atmosphere of a free and fair election.

If the US delegation does not get a satisfactory vibe – Washington will begin imposing sanctions targeting key individuals thus finally ruining the prospect of holding the next general election. Whatever the US policymakers are currently saying or doing is just a part of a massive plot of toppling the Awami League government by the end of 2023.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.
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