What Does Bangladesh’s Upcoming Election Mean for its Foreign Policy?

Ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party spell out their foreign policy priorities. Publication Type: Analysis and Commentary Share This Print the Page Bangladesh is getting more international attention for two very different reasons. Domestically, Bangladesh’s tumultuous political situation ahead of the January 7 parliamentary elections has elicited global scrutiny. The United States, through its rhetoric and actions , has led international actors pushing Bangladesh to improve its democratic processes and calling for dialogue to resolve the current political impasse, which has often received harsh retorts from the Awami League (AL) government. Countering Western pressure, Russia and China have condemned U.S. “meddling” while India has called the upcoming polls an “ internal matter .” A billboard features Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (center) on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 14, 2023. (Atul Loke/The New York Times) Global Powers Woo Bangladesh In contrast to its domestic situation, Bangladesh has in recent years drawn positive and solicitous attention in the realm of geopolitics . In 2022, then-Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said the United States was committed to growing its partnership with Bangladesh as “a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region.” The U.S. Agency of International Development’s 2023 Country Development Cooperation Strategy cites Bangladesh’s strategically important “geographic location connecting South and Southeast Asia.” A 2023 U.K. development report calls Bangladesh “a key player in upholding the Rules-Based International System” in the Indo-Pacific. In 2022, the Japan’s then-ambassador in Dhaka, Ito Naoki, called Bangladesh a “vital country in geopolitical terms,” and last year French President Emmanuel Macron visited Bangladesh to “consolidate” France’s Indo-Pacific Strategy in the face of China’s “new imperialism.” As direct regional competitors, India and China are also courting Bangladesh. Bangladesh has long been a key part of India’s “Look East” and now “Act East” policies, […]

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