Why is Modi seeking US permission to remove Yameen in Maldives?

Image result for pics of Yameen in Male

(Yameen among friends)

As was intimated in previous post,  and something newspaper reports today confirm, the Modi government is seeking Washington’s permission to act on Maldives to restore the sanctity of the Courts in that country that ruled against President Abdulla Yameen’s staying in office. Yameen is described by his political rival and India friend Mohammad Nasheed as the “villain in paradise”, whose ouster from power is sought by Nasheed and the entire political opposition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot have a clearer picture of the emerging China threat in the Maldives than the one Nasheed has painted for Delhi. If despite this, he persists with the “frightened rabbit” policy natural to MEA that abhors coercion and “military diplomacy”, then the Indian PM will deserve every brickbat that is coming his way. Maldives, Nasheed wrote in an op/ed, is being “sold off” “piece by piece, island by island” to China. ( http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/a-villain-in-paradise-maldives-president-abdulla-yameen-5053962/  ).

And the Indian government will not find a cleaner cause for armed intervention. Armed for many reasons. Yameen, no babe in the political woods, is the wolf masquerading as a lamb, his bidding done not only by the Maldivan military but, more directly, by his police and his own (late Haitian dictator) Papa Duvalier-style “tonton macoute” — a sort of praetorian guard made up of young, Islamic zealots, some of them veterans of the Maldivan armed forces, who are well armed, and can and will put up a fight, seeing their future in the survival of the Yameen presidency.

These roughnecks, in the pay of the Yameen crony class-Chinese nexus, are not going to be subdued by genteel Indian diplomats in Male arguing reasonably for respecting the supreme court verdict, restoration of democratic order, rule of law, and supremacy of the Maldivan Constitution. What will persuade them and Yameen are an Indian frigate and missile destroyer (incidentally, already in the waters not too far from Male) with embarked Marcos to knock a few Maldivan heads, take Yameen into custody along with some of his personal “tonton macoute” guard, fly in Nasheed and get Maldives back on the rails.

It is a very good sign of the Indian armed services’ alertness that it is readying the necessary military wherewithal for intervention should Modi display strategic sensibility for a change and order them into Male to write finis to the Yameen episode in Maldivan history. While a joint Marcos-army paracommando operation is fine, there will be nothing more effective than a big warship or two offshore of Male to speed up Yameen’s decision to depart for exile (lest he, oops! be shot up in his presidential residence).

But Modi is sitting on his hands, awaiting an OK from the US –when this is basically India’s problem to solve with rough and ready methods. Those in MEA telling friendly press reporters that Nasheed is no angel and that he once flirted with China is to discount the prime opportunity for installing him in power, winning his gratitude, keeping the Maldives on India’s side, and for the expeditious rescinding of all contracts signed with Chinese companies for the “dual use” infrastructure they are stealthily building so that the China threat is zeroed out for the nonce.

To the other line put out in the press through friendly beat reporters by MEA that using strongarm methods will create a blowback, as Rajiv Gandhi’s blockading decision did in Nepal, besides mis-analogizing, is to not even comprehend what is at stake in the Maldives — which is not surprising considering just how habitually unstrategic MEA’s and the Indian government’s collective mind (assuming there is such a thing) is.

The larger issue that Modi’s wanting Trump’s approval for action that is centrally in Indian national interest shows up the far more worrisome trend apparent from Vajpayee’s days of surrendering the country’s sovereignty and Delhi’s capacity for sovereign decisionmaking, making it hostage to American concerns.  Does Delhi expect  the US to consult with it about how it treats Cuba? Or, Mexico? If not why should Modi be concerned about what Washington thinks about the hard option India may exercise in the Maldives to protect and safeguard India’s security stake in the non-China influenced Maldives? Or, have things gone so far that Modi/Doval/MEA/GOI cannot separate India’s interests from the US’?

Modi is seriously compounding his political problems that got a jolt with the Congress raking up the Rafale controversy on the cost angle — which this analyst has been stressing over the years in my books and writings (including in this blog). If Modi ends up losing the Maldives, he will find it impossible to recover his standing or “nationalist” image and reputation. What the country won’t be able militarily to recover from is the geostrategic loss of Maldives to China.

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 asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Decision-making, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, society, South Asia, Special Forces, United States, US.. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Why is Modi seeking US permission to remove Yameen in Maldives?

  1. sir ,what do you think about this

  2. MS says:

    A decisive leadership favouring action is worthy than sitting idle and let 10 crore Indians talk about the merits of action/no action on social media and lose the neighbour in the process. Rajiv Gandhi was decisive and that was good. some bad and some good decisions-that happens.

    Indira Gandhi created history by freeing Bangladesh. Opportunities come wrapped in challenges.for leaders. I just hope Modi seizes this moment. Otherwise, there is no end to losing. The string of pearls will be strung around us and right in front of us.

    BUT, if it does not happen in the next few nights, it will not happen for it will be too late. We all know what will be the consequences then. Considering the big challenges we have in the country-healthcare, education, infra,.., someone breathing down our neck will stifle our chance to become an economic power. Your books will become more relevant to read-what if we had done this and that. See, Bharat Karnad had written about it but no one cared.

  3. sanman says:

    Mr Kharnad, India’s is being increasingly shown as being hollow toothless tiger. India-bashing has become the norm in all of India’s immediate neighbors, and our inability to assert ourselves over Maldives is not a cause of our impotence, but rather a symptom of our impotence.

    Our “soft power” is all fiction. Power begins at home, and the war has to be won at home before it can be carried abroad into our surrounding region.

    In the meantime, India is in need of a Far Emperor to aid us against our larger enemies.

  4. Maximus says:

    The colonial era is over, and don’t follow the US with mostly botched up regime changes, eg look at CIAs failure against Iraq, Lybia, Afghanistan, Syria or even against the Sultan of Bosporus. Acting against an underdog Male is not a big feat. You can win militarily, but what about the political fallout? Last time India acted against underdogs like Nepal or in Sri Lanka (India’s Vietnam) it went counterproductive in the long term. Yameen in Male has a point: 50% of the judiciary has not completed 7th grade and are acting hands in gloves with former presidents,
    thus being corrupt and acting against Maldives constitution. It seems the supreme Court of Maldives has been bought by foreign powers (US, India?). Why should India act on behalf of foreign interests. Smaller neighbours will closely watch how the elephant in the room will act. Nobody likes big brother attitude.

  5. MS says:

    Oh, you were right! Today, it is there in the papers that we have spoken to Mr T. The citizens of our country can feel proud that we have a hotline with him and we have discussed the issue with him. Full stop. This is our big achievement. China could go and take more islands-we can’t help it.

    Give it two more nights, and then there will be nothing left for us to do. Chinese subs will be there. Just two more days, and it will be an issue just to fill columns in the newspapers and white space online.

    Sometimes, it is worthwhile to ask-what the courageous Indira Gandhi would have done in this situation. Why her, since she created legacy by giving peace a chance on our borders with Bangladesh by freeing them. Two more nights!

  6. Venky says:

    Why should we act in Maldives ?
    There are US and UK bases close by. They should have bigger interest there. Makes sense to check with them.
    Eitherway let us first get our own house in order.

  7. sanman says:

    I notice Saudi has a lot of influence in Maldives:


    If US is doing so much for Saudi’s protection, maybe US should ensure it gets something back from Saudi in return. Saudi should learn to be a team player, and express its displeasure to Maldives over recent events. Maybe that will make Maldives think twice about its current trajectory.

  8. Rt says:

    Maldives is showing how farsical is indian preparedness as net security provider in indian ocean 🎣

  9. AJ says:

    What Bharat discountes in his article is islamic angle in maldives. In internet era Modi is loathed by the average abdul radicalized by saudi petro dollar and compounding the problem is modi being effeminate leader unlike gandhis who had confidence in their DNA built by decades of family rule. Its another lost cause which is becoming habit of effeminate policy baboos of lootyens.

  10. Shivram says:

    Sir – Is China directing the recent Pakistan-staged attacks on our defence establishments, to divert India’s attention from Maldives?

  11. sanman says:

    Mr Karnad,

    I didn’t see you make any mention of China’s warnings to India against any Maldives intervention, and whether India should take them seriously:


    Perhaps this might be why India sought to consult with the US? Again, I don’t quite see what benefit we get from so-called “strategic autonomy”, which might also be seen as isolationism.

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

    “At any time, we have eight warships on patrol to keep an eye on the entry points in and around the IOR, as part of our mission-based deployments, which started around six months ago. Along with it, we also have our training vessels on a look out around the area,” government sources said.

  13. Shyam says:

    Only Indira Gandhi has been bold PM in India history in these kind of situations.

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