Monday, February 19, 2018

Vanaajube's Teapot: More Trouble in the #Maldives

After a previous flare-up in late 2015/early 2016, New Delhi has again been called to intervene to save the Maldives from mercenary proxies. A different regional context suggests caution

In the latest bad news, the Yameen government has started to round up people, arresting 25 persons without charge under a state of emergency that was declared earlier this month, after the Supreme Court ordered the release of nine opposition figures. Protests across the archipelago have attracted thousands, while former president Mohamed Nasheed, ousted by the current government in a 2012 coup as a bitter reward for bringing global attention to the special plight the nation faces from climate change, has appealed for outside help. Nasheed contends that the Yameen regime's impunity is not the only problem – they have also made the country vulnerable to becoming a base for terrorism, as well as falling victim to China's "debt trap" exploitation under their neo-mercantilist Maritime Silk Road initiative.  The crisis is slamming the brakes on the country's substantial tourism income.

The Maldives' traditional savior has been India. The last time New Delhi had to intervene was in 1988, during a coup which in many ways had peripheral connections to the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. The government that India saved, the longtime technocratic plutocracy of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was succeeded by Nasheed in 2008, in the nation's first open vote in 30 years. Resentful over the loss of their sinecures, associates of Gayoom led the coup in 2012. And while Gayoom maintained a level of allegiance to New Delhi, and preceded Nasheed in calling for sustainability, his associates have not been so faithful. 

Maldives in crisis: Beijing faces tough choices | Maldives | Al Jazeera:  China's economic connections to the islands have been deepening since 2011, a prologue to their becoming yet another link in the Maritime Silk Road's String of Pearls.  As such, the current unrest puts Beijing on the spot: do they support a crackdown, thus reinforcing the region's anxieties about the true character of  The Belt And Road Initiative, or do they show restraint and risk losing the confidence of more willing (and generally authoritarian) partners?

'China factor' deters India from Maldives intervention - The National:  In the new context, the current crisis represents another friction point between New Delhi and Beijing. Both sides continue to maneuver around tensions in the  Himalayas over the recent Doklam dispute.  Is it really time to open up another front?

Navigating the Maldives crisis - Deccan Chronicle:  A military option for New Delhi is probably off the table. India has to portray themselves as the "good guy" working in support of a rules-based order. Soft Power represents an opportunity for effecting a positive solution, especially since the Maldives is very dependent upon tourism from regional neighbors.

The Maldives Crisis: What Is At Stake For China And India? - Swarajya:  Beijing's position on the crisis has been evolving.  Early on they made calls for regional neighbors to respect the Maldives sovereignty and stay out of the crisis; now, they're offering to step in and mediate themselves.  Meanwhile, New Delhi views the situation from a perspective based on the Doklam experience. While their answer will probably fall short of military intervention,  it will still be an assertive one, and draw a distinct line that Beijing should not cross.

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