Oust Yameen from Male before it is too late

Image result for pics of yameen with modi

(Yameen with Modi in April 2016)

President Abdulla Yameen of Maldives is in political trouble, having lost his majority in parliament. He is however preventing the elected reps who have abandoned him from joining up with the opposition party MPs in parliament. He has utilized the Maldivan National Defence Force (MNDF) to physically prevent the opposition from convening for a  ‘no confidence’ vote against him, and there’s now a standoff in Male.

Yameen has skillfully navigated three separate sets of policy imperatives. He has to have Delhi on his side because losing its favour would result in his displacement, especially if India supports his political opponent, the former President Mohammad Nasheed of the Maldivan Democratic Party (MDP). Nasheed had been imprisoned by Yameen, was released on Indian government’s pressure, spent a while in exile in London, and is back, dogging Yameen and the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

China has been eager to have a Maldives gateway for its Indian Ocean plans and Yameen is playing ball. Keen to have China play a role both as counterweight to India and because it has the money to invest and to build infrastructure, Yameen has been tempting Beijing with offers of whole atolls in return. And then there’s Saudi Arabia, the fount as I have long maintained of the monies lubricating the spread world-wide of the hard salafi brand of Sunni wahabbi Islam of the desert, but is given a free pass. Yameen has permitted the wahabbis to flourish under cover of charitable Saudi funds until now when Maldivans comprise a conspicuous part of the foreigners’ s contingent fighting with the Islamic State which, with the fall of Mosul, is being run out of Iraq. So there’s a radicalized Islamic element in Maldivan society that’s inimical to India’s interests but whom Yameen has nursed as fall-back muscle in case MNDF deserts him. Riyadh is being paid back by, yea, you guessed it, with offer of an atoll to set up God knows what — a wahabbi nursery, perhaps?

Yameen dutifully entertained two visits by MEA minister Sushma Swaraj in Oct 2014 and again the following year, and made his pilgrimage to Delhi in April 2016 where PM Narendra Modi feted him. “The Maldives is among India’s closest partners,” Modi said after the bilateral delegation-level talks. “The stability and security of the Maldives are in the interest of India. He added that “India understands its role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean and is ready to protect its strategic interests in this region.” There was a hint of the mailed fist that the Indian government would not tolerate any deviant behaviour by Yameen or any attempt by him to pull Maldives away from India. Modi virtually demanded “The prompt implementation of a concrete action plan in the defence sector [to] strengthen our security cooperation” to involve “Information exchange between security agencies and training and capacity building of Maldives Police and security forces [as] an important part of our security cooperation.” So, what’s the problem?

In a nutshell, Yameen is playing Delhi, even as the India-friendly Nasheed has been crying himself hoarse, warning about the perfidious Yameen and his design to perpetuate his rule by ridding the country of any and all opposition. The surest sign of this was Yameen’s decision in October 2016 to quit the Commonwealth because it hauled up his regime for its undemocratic practices. Nasheed has been in India trying to drum up support but apparently without much success.

The Indian government believes that whether it is Yameen or Nasheed, Male cannot afford to alienate India. Except, over the past several years Yameen has let the Chinese and Saudis strengthen their presence in his country. Rather than nipping this threat in the bud, Delhi is letting it grow, and it will, even as it remains blissfully inattentive.

It is time India acted. There are contingency plans for armed intervention, which will need activation. The last time India nearly intervened was in 2012 when Nasheed’s removal by Mohammad Waheed Hassan precipitated a crisis. But Waheed was quickly replaced by Yameen and turmoil abated, until now when the Maldives is once again on the boil. But some years back, it may be recalled, that in response to Yameen’s moves to lease out islands to China just 19 kms from the Indian Lakshadweep chain, Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, then FOCINC, Western Naval Command, Mumbai, deployed a warship to the Maldivan waters. Yameen got the message and that initiative with a Chinese group fronting for Beijing, was dropped.

It is time for Modi to order a variant of “Cactus” and have an SF unit first expeditiously secure the Male airport, have a warship with MARCOS embarked as backup, and then clear the Parliament gate off the complicit MNDF members, arrange for a free and fair vote of ‘no confidence’ to proceed against Yameen without hindrance from any quarter, and thereafter keep Yameen out of the Male scene.

If Modi continues to trust Yameen despite every evidence to merit extreme distrust of this slippery character, and doesn’t act very soon, we’ll see the Saudis with the extremist Islamic threat, and the Chinese — the source of the more conventional naval danger not just to mainland India but to India’s access to the East Africa coast, and the embryonic India-Japan maritime corridor to Africa, ensconced off India’s southern tip. The question will then be asked when it is too late to do anything: “Who lost the Maldives?”

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Africa, China, China military, civil-military relations, Culture, Decision-making, domestic politics, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Japan, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, SAARC, society, South Asia, Special Forces, Terrorism, West Asia. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Oust Yameen from Male before it is too late

  1. Aban says:

    The problem is if there is Armed intervention by India, the country might face sanctions like Russia. There are elements in both EU and US eshtablishment who will push for sanctions. No one knows how China will react. Pakistan and oil producing OIC countries would react strongly to this provocation, given that the foul regime in Maldives is backed by Saudis. Only if we had focused more on our economy in the last 7 years, we could have build a $ 4 trillion economy by now, giving India a substantial leverage in these situations. India has the capability of ruthlessly remove the present regime, but it’s real test will be to deal with the consequences.

    • Nope,not true, if hypothetically that is going to happen as you say sir, then please tell me why even within the sanctions the oil & gas trade for EU from Mother Russia is still intact ? If the Europeans DO AWAY with the oil & gas self-dependent & self-sufficient Russia, countries like Germany will have a very cold winter,because it will take another 5-6 years from yankees to get SHALE GAS for them. So,the bottomline is that why as INDIANS,we cannot have our own NATIONAL INTEREST ? China can do whatever it wants in the South China Sea,right ? So,should not WE (INDIANS) be pursuing our own NATIONAL INTERESTS ? And NATIONAL INTEREST is the LONE & SOLE METRIC for all our POLICIES. Like,we lost NEPAL,we will lose this time as well. And that is not good for the MODI GOVT. as well as our MARITIME POLICY. Beijing already has a NAVAL BASE in Djiboutti,so why we should be RISK-AVERSIVE all the time ? This theory of AHINSAA is what has made 1 BILLION HINDUS as POTENTIAL IMPOTENTS,first of all let us get out of this trance,define our objectives & fight to achieve them in the Indian Ocean. If SOUTH CHINA SEA IS FOR CHINA (strategically speaking), INDIAN OCEAN BELONGS TO INDIA & INDIAN NAVY…… Period. We need to decide what happens in the Indian Ocean. That will raise Indian Navy’s reputation & our National POWER,i literally mean HARD POWER & guess what the UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA will be very happy about it,thinking that ,”oh !now india is our HITMAN against China …brilliant”. What is wrong in all of this SIR ???

      • Aban says:

        Not saying India shouldnt intervene in Maldives, just that the whole thing should be handled properly. And that includes convincing largely ignorant Indians about the legitimacy of military intervention and managing the cretins in the opposition and media .

  2. Aban says:

    Speaking of China-friendly regimes run by Islamist mad men, India also needs to worry about strategically important Malaysia whose regime which is increasingly going rogue. Behind the facade of multiculturalism, cultural plurality and a ‘modern’ globalized economy, Malaysia has a fanatic underbelly , patronized by the Malay ruling elite. There is already a bloody Malay-muslim insurgency/terrorism happening in Southern Thailand for decades which cannot happen without the covert support of Malaysian govt. And recently it embraced wahhabi preacher Zakir Naik.

    • For that sir, one billion HINDUS need to re-unite & sort out as to who are the JAICHANDS inside, once its done, one can deal with outsiders & all the other people with different theories of WAHAABI radicalisation.

  3. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    Nepal is an apt case to show why the perpetual search for a diplomatic ‘high’ do not help in managing the neighbours. We started the Operation Mitra with nearly 3 times the chinese aid profile. The whole of India understood and commiserated with the needs of the Nepalese. Still we ended up with a messed up Nepalese constitution. Somebody just pissed on our plans for a stable Nepal. Soon it became a predictable Pahadi-Madeshi tu tu mein mein and Indo-Nepal relations are exactly at the same spot where the Congressi had left them.

    Same is our record on interventionism. We had already intervened in Maldives in 1988 and yet we still had the silent coup of Nasheed. What is expected, that India should keep intervening. And what if our new major Nato ally and its gulf cohorts are in this together this time. US and UK were very appreciative of the Indian action in 1988 and why are they quite now. Is it another of that elusive search for the diplomatic ‘high’.

    Skipping the IPKF part and going back in history to 1971 we had intervened in East Pakistan and yet within 5 years we had a dead family in our hands and within 2 years thereafter there was a color revolution in India. The ancestors of the current masiha were active participants in it. And India was saddled with Aya Ram and Gaya Ram ki sarkar 2 or 3 time and subsequent pussy footing in managing internal militancies.

    Not that I am against intervening in favour of nasheed and china is not going to get too far even with a yamin’s help regarding a base because it would be suicidal to create a base so near to the Indian stronghold. It will deserve a heart-felt thank you for the muft ki target practice.

    Intervene, if you have to, but don’t forget the home base is the one that gives the strength and these interventions will not go very far if the home base is in an unhelpful, pitiable condition. Developing an intel set up that can resist the aftermath and support these interventions properly is in itself a skill to be learnt and proven by India. If Modi is able to generate, prove and maintain that much skills then he would have served his life’s purpose. All else to be forgotten and forgiven.

    But seriously the MEA was extolling the virtues of diplomatic efforts at negotiating peace just when the Chinese were planting ‘news’ in their media about how they may undertake limited military action to oust Indian soldiers from Doklam. Jitne wale aur harne wale dono baad mein discussion karte hain and #$%#$% ka takaza hai ki baat-chit ladne sey pahle kar li jaye. – this is a good approximation of what she said on the floor of the house. 🙂

    So, what say you?

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