Déjà Vu: US Empire Seeks Regime Change in the Maldives

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Indian Ocean listening stations, bases and ports of interest to both China and the US Empire. Courtesy: International Maritime Bureau

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 12 December 2015

On 29 November 2013, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Victor Yanukovych, the former democratically elected President of Ukraine, refused to sign the Ukraine-European Union (EU) Association Agreement (UEAA), one of the precursors to joining the EU, preferring to remain in the orbit of the Russian Federation. Merkel, the principal representative of the EU at the meeting, was furious. Less than 3 months later, in a now widely acknowledged accurate narrative of the events that subsequently occurred, Yanukovych was ousted from office in a bloody coup d'état perpetrated by the EU, the UK and the US, upon the culmination of a wave of subversive activities commonly known as the Euromaidan. While the UEAA agreement was signed a month later, on the 21 March 2014, it has still to enter into force. More importantly, for the Ukrainian people, the nation has yet to emerge from the US Empire inspired sectarian war it unleashed and as the country descends further and further into an economic and political abyss, the West, and its corporate vultures, are already eyeing the spoils of war.

Eighteen months later, and 4, 000 miles Southeast of Ukraine, a similar tale is unfolding.

The Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago which includes 1,192 coral islands grouped in a chain of 26 atolls that lie approximately 500 miles Southwest of mainland India. In its short history of independence, since 26 July 1965, from the brutal vagaries of the British Empire it has had just 6 Presidents, the third incumbent, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, clocking up exactly 30 years to the day in office. President Gayoom was ousted in a pseudo-democratic process by Mohamed Nasheed on the 11 November 2008 having been groomed by the British Conservative Party in the niceties of duplicity and despotic rule. Nasheed resigned from office on the 7 February 2012 when his misdeeds finally caught up with him after having arrested Judge Abdulla Mohamed for failing to interpret the law in accordance with his political ambitions. Just over three years later, in March 2015, Nasheed was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of the Maldives for arresting a Criminal Court Judge and sentenced to 13 years in prison where he remains to this day.

Nonetheless, geography, i.e. being in prison, has not stopped the ambitious Nasheed.

In the wake of Nasheed's despotic rule and following the caretaker presidency of Mohammed Waheed Hassan from February to November 2013, the new incumbent, President Abdulla Yameen, upon discovering the parlous state of the economy, quickly shifted the country's former UK-US centric foreign policy to engage with China: Yameen's decision was simply driven by pragmatics given that the Maldivian economy derives more than 90% of its income from tourism and the majority of visitors to the island archipelago are now Chinese. It's neighbour India, its former colonial master the UK, and the US, in particular, were, and still are, clearly troubled by the development believing that their regional geo-political and geo-strategic supremacy are under serious threat.

The China One Belt One Road overland and maritime trade routes. Source: General Administration of Customs, Ministry of Commerce, China

It is no secret that the Chinese Reform & Opening Up (改革开放) policy of 1978, spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping (邓小平), has fostered increasing engagement of the Middle Kingdom (中国), a direct translation of country's name, with its regional neighbours in Southeast Asia and the wider world following the political, economic and military obscurity of the Mao Zedong (毛泽东) era. China's rise over the last 37 years has been nothing less than stratospheric and while the vast majority of China's foreign interests have focused on mutual benefit, i.e. infrastructure development in exchange for natural resources, the sheer scope and scale of its reach has raised alarm bells throughout the Western world.

More recently, in December 2014, the Maldives officially joined the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR/一带一路) project, aka. the New Silk Road, and formally became a strategic partner in its development. The Maldives, albeit bereft of a deep-water port that would facilitate rest, repair and refuelling of OBOR shipping and an economic market where China could ply its trade, is nonetheless significant, both politically and militarily. China has been, and still is, developing a String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean that includes a network of commercial and military facilities, as well as political relationships, along its sea lines of communication and trade. President Yameen's Maldives is one of those pearls.

Thus, Yameen has become the latest target for the US Empire.

On 28 September 2015 President Yameen narrowly missed being seriously injured by a bomb that exploded on his boat whilst travelling from the airport on Hulhulé Island to the capital on Malé Island: Yameen's wife, Fathimath Ibrahim, a bodyguard and a few officials were hospitalised as a result of the blast. Later, on 31 October 2015, the islands security services retrieved a large cache of weapons and explosives that were hidden 42 metres underwater close to a nearby island resort. The weapons were found to have been stolen from the Maldives military armoury, indicating that a false flag operation was being planned. Just a few days later, on 2 November 2015, a remote-controlled bomb was found near the presidential palace but was safely defused. Consequently, on the 4 November 2015, Yameen enacted a month-long state of emergency which uncovered further plots and weapons caches and has only recently been lifted.

Whilst Nasheed may well have been locked up in prison on Maafushi Island as these events have played out he is known to have orchestrated them with the aid of local and international accomplices recruited, trained and funded by the Indian Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), its foreign intelligence agency, the UK's MI6 and the CIA from the US.

Clearly President Yameen has managed to escape, thus far, the myriad of forces that seek to depose him but just how much longer he can evade their nefarious activities remains to be seen. If the recent political changes in Myanmar, aka. Burma, and Sri Lanka, who have both distanced themselves from China and returned to the orbit of the US Empire, are an indicator of what the future holds for the archipelago, then President Yameen's term of office may well be somewhat shorter than expected.

The villainy of Empires' past, present and future are the instruments of their own demise.
Ann-Marie de Veer