BIISS JOURNAL, VOL. 37, NO. 2, April 2016

Sajid Karim
Md. Nazmul Islam

SYRIAN CRISIS: GEOPOLITICS AND IMPLICATIONS


Abstract

The Syrian crisis, which started in 2011 as an anti-government protest against President Bashar-al-Assad, transformed into a civil war in the first quarter of 2012. Since then, the war continued unabated resulting as one of the worst humanitarian crises after the Second World War by killing more than 470,000 people and displacing half of the Syria’s total population either internally or externally. It has also dragged regional and global powers to wage proxy war in its territory and caused spill-over effects within and beyond the region. In this context, this paper is an attempt to analyse the Syrian crisis, geopolitics behind the crisis and its implications. In doing so, the paper identifies different factors, such as authoritarian nature of President Bashar-al-Assad’s government, sectarian division and deteriorated socioeconomic condition within Syria, competing gas export interest from regional as well as global powers, the intervention of foreign powers as major reasons for deepening the crisis and prolonging this war. The ruling Ba’ath Party of Syria headed by President Assad, a coalition of Syrian opposition forces and their military entity, regional and global forces, namely Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, the United States, Russia, Lebanon’s Shiite militia group Hezbollah and different Sunni armed extremist groups like Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are the main actors of this war. The paper argues that apart from its devastating impact on Syria’s socio-political and economic condition, the crisis has shaken the entire Middle East in particular and made a corrosive effect on the West’s relations with both Russia and China as a whole. It has also caused the biggest wave of disorderly migration since the Second World War and facilitated the emergence of armed extremist organisations like ISIS and Al Nusra Front, which are posing serious threats to national security of Syria and beyond.


Sajid Karim is Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). His email address is: sajidkarim87@gmail.com; Md. Nazmul Islam is Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). His email address is: nazmulir63@gmail.com.

© Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), 2016.


Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan

PHILOSOPHICAL DUALISM: TOWARDS A NUANCE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT OF TERRORISM

Abstract

Philosophical dualism implies that our thoughts shaped by mind and our understanding of the physical world based on empiricism are both real yet neither can be assimilated. The idealists challenge this distinction, claiming that the physical world is inherently mental as anything empirical is an inter-subjective product of collective interpretation of the experience originating from our mind. The ‘mind-body problem’ also shapes knowledge creation claiming social science as value-laden and natural science as fact-driven. This paper critically examines the dichotomous postulation of fact and value which arguably separates social science from natural science. Tracing the origin of philosophical dualism and its many manifestations, the paper questions its utility and validity. It argues that any attempt to separate value from fact restricts the intellectual debate, rational inquiry, growth of knowledge and remains impossible to achieve particularly in the context of thick ethical concepts. Illustrating different peculiarities of meaning and how they are construed, the paper demonstrates the centrality of meaning and interpretation in social science inquiry validating that all ‘facts’ are subject to the gilding and staining with the colours of our own ‘values’. Highlighting the descriptive and evaluative aspects of thick concepts in particular, the paper argues that both natural and social sciences are engaged in tracing the conceptual relations and any real difference between the two lies in the aims, nature and methods of inquiry and not in the alleged fact/ value distinction. Exemplifying this argument with the concept of terrorism the paper highlights, how the evaluative and descriptive aspects of the concept of terrorism is stained corrupting our sensitivity. Rejecting the consequentialists’ argument, the paper takes a deontological approach contending that achieving a global meaning of terrorism requires decoupling it from the concepts of war, religion, as well as a moral upgrade of war and holding both state and nonstate actors responsible for committing the act of terrorism with equal spirit and force. By building a common ethos of reciprocity towards the act and the corresponding constitutive rules that emerges from, and are sustained by a web of social practices of the societies and the societies of states can only transform one man’s terrorist to be regarded as everyman’s terrorist.


Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan is Group Captain in Bangladesh Air Force and a Chevening scholar . He is currently pursuing his PhD at the University of Reading. His email address is: zahid8244@yahoo.com.

© Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), 2016.


Sultana Jareen
Roksana Islam Sujana

CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION EFFORTS OF BANGLADESH: AN ASSESSMENT

Abstract

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. The country is experiencing some of the major impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, salinity, increased temperature, rainfall variations, flood, drought and cyclone. In response, Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) has been a critical focus of the country. The country has taken a number of policies, programmes and projects to address the issue of CCA. These programmes, policies and plans are supported by institutional mechanisms of relevant ministries. To meet the financial requirement, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has established several funds domestically along with seeking fund from international community. This paper assesses the CCA efforts of Bangladesh. It reveals that despite some achievements, there are challenges which include lack of coordination among concerned ministries, loopholes in policies, lack of local level participation, slow pace of implementation along with insufficient funding, lack of adequate monitoring and evaluation, and deficit in transparency and accountability.


Sultana Jareen is Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), Dhaka. Her e-mail address is: jareen.ds@gmail.com; Roksana Islam Sujana is Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), Dhaka. Her e-mail address is: sujana_357@yahoo.com.

© Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), 2016.


Shanjida Shahab Uddin

REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY ARRANGEMENTS: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR BANGLADESH

Abstract

Connectivity initiatives in the present era are considered as a significant prerequisite for developing transport sector, people to people engagement, institutional linkages and hence in the long run, contributing to the economic development. Bangladesh’s unique location puts it in the vicinity of two regional powers - India and China and landlocked countries - Bhutan and Nepal. With two operational seaports, one forthcoming deep-sea port and several land ports, Bangladesh can easily reap a myriad of benefits by turning itself into a regional and trading hub. Therefore, the paper explains the possible benefits that Bangladesh and its neighbours could gain from already established and forthcoming connectivity arrangements at the regional and sub-regional level. The paper also reviewed the existing and possible impending challenges that Bangladesh would face in transforming itself as a connectivity centre and suggested policy recommendations to address these challenges.


Shanjida Shahab Uddin is Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). Her email address is: shanjida.s.uddin@biiss.org

© Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), 2016.