Seven clues to the future?
What are we to make of the following events? How will they impact on the future of Bangladesh or at least its politics for the rest of the decade?
- The soap opera that might have gone under the banner headline "General loses a wife...... and with it goes his party ....... "
- The chinese oil company, CNOOC, is getting a $20 billion bid ready for UNOCAL. The boys at Chevron-Texaco are being trumped. Highly unlikely that the US polity will be too happy to have such a historic (and gas reserve) company go to its future strategic competitor. Shell suddenly announces that it is in the market for an oil company! But what if CNOOC does succeed? how will it view the gas in Bangladesh? Will it be even more gung-ho to sell it to India? Or will it do something completely different, given its hold over Myanmar?
- US ambassador, Harry K Thomas is apparently being promoted and can get to work more closely with Dr. Rice. Do we extend our congratulations? Perhaps. One wonders however why a renowned South Asian expert, having learned Bengali, having built up personal relationships with all power brokers in Dhaka, should leave at this most critical of times. Politics in bangladesh is taking a nasty turn. Certainly it will enter a volatile period. So why go now?
- A related question is: what is Nicholas Burns going to do in dhaka? We know he is coming to South Asia to push for a F-18 factory in India and more importantly play with the Group of 4 application to become permanent members of the Security Council. If he comes down hard on the iran pipeline, what will the compensation be? moreover, how does he propose to fill the void left by Harry..... where is Ms Rocca in all this?
- State Minister mosharraf - of KAFCO infamy &c countless other scandals - resigns over car provided by Canadian NIKO, one of the most unsuccessful Oil companies in the world. No one has yet asked the Canadian ambassador to refrain from discussing good governance while NIKO greases its way though the gas sector. Is the issue really the use of that jeep? Then most ministers would have had to say farewell by now. Do we believe ex-minister when he says he was set up? What did he do wrong? where did he mess up? did he upset TATA? Did he not realise that talking about exporting gas is political suicide for any regime? Had he not heard of Bolivia? Or did he screw up a deal? Or was his time up? Again, why be pushed right in the middle of the two biggest deals in Bangladesh's history?
- will there be an early election in December? Why are some people speculating about this? What is the logic? Scenario painted as: Ruling regime sees opposition in disarray, especially after collapse of Old Dictator party of Ershad. Opposition will try to spark a movement centred around electoral reform. This will not wash with ordinary people preoccupied with rising food prices and flood. Wrong issue, bad time. Regime announces resignation in September after temporary crisis created by reform campaign .... let's ask the people etc etc . Election pencilled in for December, during "old style' caretaker government set up to monitor the elections. Prominent figure in Caretaker government - prof Yunus....... Who gains from this scenario? Certainly not Ministers with unfinished "business". Certainly not small parties with hardly any candidates on the ground....... If the myanmar pipeline and TATA deals are not signed by September, then certainly not them either.... Only the BNP if they win at the polls...... Is that likely? If one were a betting man, one would say no. At best, too close to call. Of course, anti-India members of regime would not like to be around to pen any deals. Would much better prefer to delay. If they sign, then lose power in 12 months, they lose main issue. They become vulnerable to - thanks, but you are no longer needed brigade..... this could be all be just an unnecessary distraction, and we can forget it........
- What's all this talk of an extended Caretaker government? Now what is going to happen with that little chestnut? Answers on a postcard please since we are clueless here........... We cannot possibly believe that they might hang around for a little longer than currently mandated to complete outstanding tasks such as separation of judiciary, regulatory reform and all other activities connected to "improving the environment for business"..............
Stranger things have happened so far this millenium.
If a figure of the Frederick Forsyth mould (author making it big with "Dogs of War") is looking for some material for a paperback, he should come to Dhaka. On the other hand, he has probably got all he needs from Equatorial Guinea........