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India-Maldives Relations and Geopolitical Shifts



  Feb 21, 2024

India-Maldives Relations and Geopolitical Shifts



1. What has caused a shift in the Maldives’ foreign policy towards India?

The Maldives has shifted its foreign policy stance due to a combination of factors, including political changes within the Maldives and the growing influence of China in the Indian Ocean region. The election of President Mohamed Muizzu, who campaigned on an “India Out” slogan and sought closer ties with countries like Turkey and China, signifies this shift. This realignment reflects broader geopolitical dynamics and a desire to diversify foreign relations beyond India.

2. How has India contributed to the Maldives in the past?

India has played a significant role in supporting the Maldives through various crises. This support includes military intervention to quell a coup in 1988, humanitarian assistance following the 2004 tsunami, and supplying potable water during a water crisis in 2014. India’s consistent support highlights the depth of bilateral ties, underpinned by strategic, economic, and cultural connections.

3. What are the implications of the Maldives’ closer ties with China?

The Maldives’ closer ties with China have significant implications for regional security and the strategic balance in the Indian Ocean. By aligning more closely with China, the Maldives has elevated their bilateral relationship to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership” and joined China’s Global Security Initiative. This shift could enhance China’s influence in the region, potentially at the expense of India’s strategic interests.

4. What are India’s concerns regarding the Maldives’ new foreign policy direction?

India’s primary concerns include the potential for increased Chinese military and surveillance presence in the Indian Ocean, which could threaten regional security and India’s strategic interests. Additionally, India is wary of the Maldives falling into a debt trap through Chinese investments and loans, a pattern observed in other countries aligned with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

5. How has the Maldives’ internal policy shifted under President Muizzu?

Under President Muizzu, the Maldives has exhibited a shift towards more overtly Islamist policies, distancing itself from secular practices. This includes banning Christmas celebrations outside of tourist resorts and seeking to purchase military drones from Turkey, indicating a desire to pivot the country in a more Islamist direction. Such internal policy shifts could have broader implications for the Maldives’ social fabric and its relations with other countries.

Conclusion:

The recent geopolitical shifts in the Maldives, highlighted by its realignment towards China and away from India, underscore the fluid nature of international relations in the Indian Ocean region. These developments prompt a reassessment of strategic priorities for India, which must navigate these changes carefully to protect its interests while maintaining regional stability.

SRIRAM’s


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