Maldives is the most iconic archipelago in the world: famous for its sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and called as Tourist “paradise”. With its population of just 345,000, is becoming famous for recruitment of Jihadis to Islamic State (IS), Military Coup, Political uncertainty, the arrest of Supreme Court Judges, Political Activists, Chinese control through Infra and Long Term Loans and more.
India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations but that relationship has been disturbed due to the acts of President Abdulla Yameen. First, Male suspended three local councilors for having an unauthorized meeting with the Indian ambassador, Akhilesh Mishra, and second, the editorial in the pro-Yameen newspaper which, while describing India as an enemy, called for Male to find a new best friend in China. They signed FTA with China too. Third the Arrest of Supreme Court Chief Justice, Political Activists and Fourth and the important rise of Jihadi forces in Maldives.
In Capital, Malé, there was a pro-IS rally featuring banners that called for the introduction of shariah law. The situation in the islands is causing concern not just internally but among foreign intelligence agencies as well. A recent US State Department terrorism report said that links had now been made “between Maldivians and violent extremists throughout the world.
India and US are also teaming up to monitor returning ISIS fighters into Maldives — this country of 3,50,000 has sent almost 400 ISIS fighters to Syria and Iraq (as a comparison, Sweden with 10 million people is contending with 300 returnees).
Of the 400 people who have gone to jihad, the vast majority are ex-military. They are taking people for training and they will go away to fight overseas. They are using the Maldives military to train their people. The Society has become much more conservative because of the influx of Saudi money paying for Wahhabi imams and mosques, and spreading a deeply conservative view of Islam at odds with the islands’ traditions. Given restrictive conditions and remote atolls, these radicalised could spell disaster. “There has been an explosion of extremist preachers in the Maldives,” remarked a diplomat.
President Abdullah Yameen is too weak to counter the threat and might tacitly encourage it: “President Yameen feels he can deal with the Islamist threat later but first he wants to consolidate power. “I have a feeling that our police and military are already taken. Eventually, the Islamists will create havoc in the Maldives. I have no doubt about it says the exiled Former president Mohamed Nasheed.
The Maldives is a matter of particular concern to India. China has consolidated its hold on the island, building Infrastructure with its standard predatory pricing methods. Unlike in Sri Lanka where the Sirisena government is trying to fix its books, President Yameen in the Maldives seems perfectly comfortable with growing amounts of debt to China.
China’s financing mechanisms mean that China could be controlling large areas of Maldives fairly soon. China’s presence in iHavan project on Maldives’ northernmost atoll is a serious concern, sitting in the middle of the busiest transit point between the Middle East and Southeast Asia and very close to Lakshadweep islands.
China’s aggressive play in the Indian Ocean region has prompted US and India to coordinate closely in Sri Lanka and Maldives two countries strategically vital for India. This is a far cry from the years when India worked hard to keep the US out of South Asia, now US and India are working together to counter expanding Chinese influence. So India’s policies in the Indian Ocean region are undergoing a sea change.
In August, Yameen disregarded India’s request to deny permission to three Chinese warships — as retaliation, India invited Mohamed Nasheed to Delhi, his first visit here since his exile. Yameen is playing his version of hard ball Maldives repaid GMR’s dues earlier this year, and India suspects China put up the amount, although when it comes to SOS on drinking water, Yameen needs New Delhi.
At the last one can say that the Maldives the Beautiful country is becoming a Beast in the Indian Ocean. So the Exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed urged India to “act swiftly” to help in resolving the ongoing political crisis. President Abdulla Yameen has declared a state of emergency and creating terror there. It is the choice of India with United Nations, America and like-minded democratic countries to make the Maldives Democratic and Politically Stable.
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