Home From The Sidelines Maldives Crisis: Why India Needs to Intervene

Maldives Crisis: Why India Needs to Intervene

The Maldivian authorities have an appalling track record of suppressing freedom of expression and any form of opposition.

New Delhi: Maldives’ former President Mohamed Nasheed has sought Indian military intervention in the crisis-ridden country.

His tweet comes a day after President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency in the Island nation, after defying a recent Supreme Court ruling that ordered the release of nine opposition leaders, including Mr. Nasheed, and the reinstatement of 12 expelled MPs.

Former President Maumoom Abdul Gayoom and his son in law have also been arrested by Special Operations.

The Opposition alliance on Monday also signed a resolution urging international actors to pressure the Yameen administration to comply with the order.

The Maldivian authorities have an appalling track record of suppressing freedom of expression and any form of opposition.

Why India’s intervention matters?

Beijing’s interest in Maldives is purely strategic. It should be noted that the country didn’t even had an embassy in Maldives until 2011 but in the past few years, it has emerged as a key player there. Male has already signed a free-trade agreement with Beijing and Chinese companies are replacing Indian firms by getting most of the major infrastructure projects.

The current President of Maldives has shown pro-China tendencies and it is only natural for New Delhi to protect its interest by supporting former President Mohamed Nasheed.

People chanting: “protect the Supreme Court, arrest President Yameen.”

But will India intervene?

In 2013, India had brokered a deal with the government of Mohamed Waheed in the Maldives allowing Mohamed Nasheed, the former democratically elected president, to exit peacefully from the Indian high commission where he had taken refuge over the last 10 days.

In 2012, India had recognized the “legitimacy” of the coup against Nasheed which was planned and executed by former dictator Abdul Maumoon Gayoom and led by the man who-would-be President Waheed. India’s disinterest backfired and it lost its voice in the Island nation.

Ever since Mohamed Nasheed was ousted in 2012 following a military coup, the new regime led by President Abdulla Yameen has been tilting towards China. Maldives has joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and has allowed Chinese companies to invest heavily in infrastructure development projects. According to media reports China is also considering to open a base in the Maldives after acquiring one of the islands on lease.

Will India allow China to be a dominant force in its backyard or we can expect swift action from the Modi government?

If India really wants to be recognized as a global power then it needs to abandon its isolationist attitude. Actions speak louder than words, and the world needs to see if PM Modi is a man of action or just words.

The US, Japan, and even the ASEAN nations want India to play a more active role in the Indo-Pacific region and in its immediate neighborhood. The Maldives is strategically important for India and it can’t allow giving the Chinese an upper hand by inaction. Both Beijing and New Delhi are closely monitoring the situation in the Island nation but India needs to act swiftly to secure its interests and to ensure the survival of democracy in the Maldives.