India and Opposition Politics in the Maldives

The series of essays on the Politics of Opposition in South Asia that Milan Vaishnav and I have co-edited has almost wrapped up (he and I still have a joint concluding essay to write); click the link above to see all the great contributions. The final contributor essay is by Rasheeda Didi, exploring the India issue in the domestic politics of the Maldives. This is a topic and context important in its own right, and also particularly intriguing to me given my current book project, so definitely worth a read:

“Like many island nations in Asia, the Maldives is busy grappling with the best way to advance its economic and national security interests in a region where geopolitical tensions between larger Asia-Pacific nations like China, India, and the United States continue to rise.

Unsurprisingly, views among the country’s political leaders on the best course of action differ. The political debate playing out in the capital of Malé offers a vantage point on the tradeoffs and constraints that policymakers in the Maldives and other similar countries must account for as they strive to protect their national sovereignty.

The main issue dominating this debate is India’s controversial military presence in the Maldives, though other ad hoc issues have arisen too. While the current government has actively sought to strengthen such ties with India, Yameen and the main opposition force have pressed the government to weaken such ties or even end India’s military presence altogether, as embodied by the slogan “India Out.”

To amplify the India Out campaign’s reach, the opposition has expanded its appeals beyond the capital to outer islands. The expansion of the campaign and the opposition’s heated rhetoric could create a serious rupture in the Maldives-India partnership with potentially significant consequences for both sides.”

Read more here.

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