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  • Context (IE): Maldives has asked India to withdraw all its military personnel from the island nation.
  • Maldives and India have set up a high-level core group to negotiate the withdrawal of troops.
  • Around 77 Indian military personnel are in the Maldives, as per official data.

Maldives map

Why Indian troops in Maldives

  • The Indian military saved the Maldivian President during Operation Cactus, thwarting a military coup.
  • Indian military personnel train Maldivian troops in combat, surveillance, and rescue-aid operations.
  • Helicopter operations, Dornier aircraft operations & associated maintenance and engineering works.

Apprehension and mistrust

  • India-gifted Dhruv ALHs are seen as an attempt to increase India’s military presence.
  • Previous Solih government’s perceived lack of transparency while dealing with India raised mistrust.
  • The Maldivian police academy campus is seen as an attempt to settle more Indians in Maldives.
  • Maldivian media also portrayed the UTF Harbour Project agreement at Uthuru Thilafalhu, a strategically located atoll near the capital Malé, as India’s military base project.

Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv

  • Multi-role and multi-mission light utility helicopter
  • Developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • Specifications: Twin-engine configuration, 5800kg take-off weight, 590km range

Maldives

  • Domestic politics & the pro-China government are the real reasons behind the withdrawal demand.

Historical Rollercoaster of Maldives’ foreign policy

  • Maldivian culture, rooted in Buddhism, became a constitutionally Muslim nation after conversions.
  • Maldives managed to maintain relative independence from European colonisation.
  • It signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the British in 1887.
  • With internal political sovereignty, foreign affairs were surrendered to Britain.
  • During the Second World War, the Maldives was a British naval base and continued as a British protectorate until its independence in 1965.
  • Independent Maldives became a UN member in 1965.
  • India was the first nation to launch a resident mission in Male in 1976.
  • In 1978, the Indian International Airport Authority was awarded a tender to expand the Hulhule airport runway.
  • Indo-Maldivian bilateral relationship was formalised by signing the Treaty of Friendship in 1981.
  • Maldivian foreign policy under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom took a lukewarm turn towards India despite India’s aid in preserving his regime during a coup attempt.
  • Recognising China’s emergence as a global power with significant strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, President Gayoom visited China in 1984 and then again in 2006.
  • Again, Indo-Maldivian ties improved with President Mohamed Nasheed coming to power in 2008 with campaign critical Sinocentric policies.

For details on India-Maldives relations, visit >India-Maldives Relations.

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