05/19/2017, 15.07
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Prime Minister Hasina attends Riyadh summit between Saudi and US, to counter Iran

by Sumon Corraya

From May 20 to 23, the Saudi capital hosts a summit involving 55 Muslim-majority nations. President Trump will also attend on his first official trip abroad. Dhaka evaluates sending military to the kingdom to protect the holy places of Islam. The summit reinforces designs of Arab-Sunni alliance against Shiite Iran.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has announced the sending of Bangladeshi military forces to Saudi Arabia to protect the holy places of Islam, to "end the wave of extremist violence" that is bloodying in the Middle East. He was speaking on the eve of the summit which will include Arab leaders and Muslim majority nations scheduled from May 20 to 23 in Riyadh. US President Donald Trump will also attend on his first trip abroad.

In the background of the international summit, which brings together leaders and representatives from 55 nations, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to create a force to counter Iranian influence in the region and the Muslim world. The presence of leaders of Niger, Turkey, Indonesia and Brunei confirm  the transversality of the event.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina  will head the Bangladesh delegation and the leader will address, the topic of sending military to the kingdom in the context of the fight against terrorism. This is a delicate matter, confirming on the one hand the attempt to strengthen ties between Dhaka and Riyadh, and on the other hand, poses the issue of relations with Iran.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister has made it clear that it is premature to speak of alliance because there are no signed documents that certify it., AH Mahmood Ali added, it is still "premature", "evolving," and " under discussion". The fear is that involvement in the opposition between the Saudis and Iranians, a mirror of the inner war in Islam between Sunni (the great majority) and Shi'ite (mainly in Iran, Lebanon and Syria).

He continued that the assumption of Bangladesh's "involvement" in this contrast is unfounded. However, according to experts, the danger is real and will emerge in the future, also in view of the growing influence exerted by Saudi Arabia. In fact, at least 560 mosques have been established throughout the country thanks to the donations from Riyadh. Added to this is at least 2.5 million Bangladeshi migrants live and work in the Saudi kingdom. Their earnings are sent to the families of origin remaining in Bangladesh, thus creating a substantial flow of money into the pockets of the state.

Dhaka University Professor of International Relations, M Sahiduzamman, underlines the Saudi attempt to "form an alliance" of Muslim nations to counter "conflicts and terrorism," claiming leadership. Bangladesh, he adds, receives a lot of aid from the Saudis, and the time has come for "even the Saudis ask for a hand and Bangladesh will do it."

However, the eyes of the international community will be on US President Donald Trump on the first diplomatic trip abroad since his establishment at the White House on January 20th. The  choice of Riyadh is not a chance decision, in an attempt to relaunch the alliance with the Saudis (and the Gulf nations) that had cooled during the Second Presidency of Barack Obama.

An looming in the background the question of  Tehran - called today to elect the new president - and the Iranian nuclear agreement, which also held talks during these weeks of meetings and statements in preparation for the summit.

Salman al-Ansar, chairman of the Saudi-American Committee on Business and Public Affairs, said the meeting is a "clear message" to Iran on a "global consensus and a global agreement between the United States and the Arab Muslim world " in an anti-Tehran key. Andreas Krieg of the King's College's London Defense Studies department adds that King Salman is trying to use the US to create a "pan-Islamic alliance under Saudi leadership, as a bastion against jihadism and Iran."

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