The way the international community is responding to Rohingya ethnic cleansing in Myanmar is not only inadequate but also extremely dangerous as the crisis is attracting attention of extremist groups around the globe.
The UN issued many statements about the crisis in Myanmar, “called for” an end of violence and many UN officials described the crisis as an “example of ethnic cleansing”, but calling a spade a spade without taking a proper action to alleviate the plight of those suffering is worth nothing.
On the other hand, Al Qaeda rushed to take advantage of the situation by calling for support of the Rohingya and threatening to punish those who caused their suffering. “We call upon all mujahid brothers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers, and to make the necessary preparations — training and the like - to resist this oppression,” the terrorist group said in a statement.
Indonesia’s extremist Islamic Defenders Front called for volunteers to wage jihad in defence of its Muslim Rohingya population. Also Bangladesh's radical group Hefazat-e-Islam threatened to launch jihad against Myanmar.
Reports warned that ISIS fighters are following suit. A suspected ISIS follower was detained in Malaysia for planning to carry attacks in Myanmar, according to the head of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
400,000 desperate Rohingya refugees, mostly children, have crossed borders to Bangladesh, according to the UN’s most recent estimates. Seeing their families being killed or displaced, Rohingya youth are vulnerable and might be seduced to fight for militants to revenge; especially since there is no real action from the international community to address their ongoing crisis.
In the face of the Myanmar's government indifference and the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi - Myanmar's de facto leader - who refused to condemn the shocking actions of Myanmar army against the Muslim-minority, hundreds of young Rohingya have joined The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group. According to their leader Ata Ullah, ARSA’s primarily objective is “to liberate our people from dehumanized oppression perpetrated by all successive Burmese regimes”. ARSA, which repeatedly distanced itself from Al Qaeda and ISIS, has already carried out series of attacks against security forces in Myanmar.
The international community should start taking serious actions to stop these jihad rallying calls. There are wide range of options that could start from recalling ambassadors, to closing embassies or even imposing economic sanctions. This political inaction creates vacuums that could be easily exploited by terror groups for their own agendas, turning Myanmar into another hotbed of international terrorism.