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Indian military withdraw from Maldives following President Muizzu’s directive

The timing of this strategic step coincided with the inaugural visit of Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer to the Indian shores

In the diplomatic scenario across the Indian Ocean, the Indian military withdraw from Maldives amidst a diplomatic scenario unfolding across the Indian Ocean. The departure follows a resounding call from President Mohamed Muizzu, whose vision focuses on strengthening ties with China. Indian troops, accompanied by two helicopters and an aircraft, were involved in marine surveillance, search-and-rescue, and medical evacuation operations on the islands now bid adieu to the islands, marking a significant shift in regional dynamics.

Strategic Shifts and Regional Realignment in the Wake of Indian military withdraw from Maldives

The timing of this strategic step coincided with the inaugural visit of Maldivian Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer to the Indian shores. This meeting holds promise as the first diplomatic visit by a senior official since Muizzu ascended to power in November the preceding year. Amidst the backdrop of evolving geopolitical currents, this gesture underscores a recalibration of alliances and priorities in the Indo-Pacific region.

With the Indian military withdraw from Maldives, the geopolitical chessboard sees pieces shifting. As India exits stage left, the spotlight now shifts to the flourishing ties between the Maldives and China, hinting at a new chapter in regional cooperation. This chapter unfolds against the backdrop of evolving commitment and aspirations, shaping the contours of strategic engagement in the Indian Ocean region.

In New Delhi, on a Thursday, the foreign ministers of India and Maldives convened, setting the stage for bilateral discussions amidst the backdrop of the Indian military’s withdrawal from the Maldives. Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar conveyed to his Maldivian counterpart, Moosa Zameer, about India’s pivotal role as a provider of essential development aid. From critical infrastructure projects to healthcare initiatives, India has strongly supported the Maldives, fostering a relationship firmly established in mutual growth and prosperity.

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In a statement issued by India’s External Affairs Ministry, Jaishankar expressed the supreme importance of forging a shared understanding to propel bilateral ties forward. “It is in our common interest that we reach an understanding on how best we can take our relationship forward,” underscored Jaishankar’s sentiment, encapsulating the essence of cooperation and collaboration between the two nations.

Amidst the shifting tides, tensions between India and Maldives have surged since the coming to power of President Muizzu, perceived as pro-China, last year. His administration promptly issued a demand for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the archipelago island by May 10,and decided to replace them with civilians for those activities, signalling a regulation of strategic alignments.

Muizzu’s presidency was propelled by a resounding call for “India out,” encapsulating a narrative of safeguarding national sovereignty and recalibrating foreign relations. Implicit within this rhetoric was a critique of his predecessor’s perceived overreliance on Indian influence, thereby igniting a fervent debate on Maldives’ diplomatic course.

Indian military withdraw from Maldives

Upon assuming office, Muizzu’s diplomatic visit to China prior to India, emphasised the Maldives’ sovereign agency and resilience against external pressures. In a bold assertion of national identity, he exclaimed that the Maldives’ modest size does not equate to vulnerability, rejecting any notion of external force.

Within the broader context, India and China find themselves entangled in a strategic tug-of-war for influence within the Maldives, a nation equipped with pivotal geostrategic significance in the Indian Ocean region.

Building Bridges: India’s Partnership with the Maldives

India aided Maldives in constructing 4,000 homes and extended a $100 million line of credit for diverse infrastructural projects. Additionally, both nations have sined agreements for collaboration in cybersecurity, disaster management, and fishing zone forecasting capabilities. In 2013, Maldives aligned with China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, fostering the development of ports and highways to facilitate expanded trade routes in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Last year, India initiated the Greater Male connectivity project, constructing a 6.7-kilometer-long bridge. This links the capital city, Male, with pivotal islands including Villingli, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi, epitomising India’s commitment to fostering regional connectivity and socio-economic development in the Maldives.

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