March 1, 2021
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Cajoling act
US woos Maldives with SOFA As Maldives prepares for Presidential election in September, a fierce debate is going on in the Maldivian political circles about the US offer to sign a Status of Forces Agreement. With the US focusing its strategy towards Asia Pacific by promoting its new Rebalancing Asia earlier called Pivot to Asia policy among the Asian powers, it seems to have chosen Maldives as one of the pivots on which it will deploy its military facilities. With China also making aggressive moves to lure Maldives in its strategic grip by offering substantial grants and assisting in many other developmental activities, the Maldivian archipelago seem to be turning into hot bed of super power rivalry. The ex-Maldivian President Mamoon Abudul Gayoom, who ruled with iron hand for 30 years and aligned only with India, has recently said during his India visit in early June, 2013 that “it is not good to make Maldives a hotbed of rivalries between superpowers. We do not want to be aligned to the west or the east.” But the way Maldives is being courted by big powers the Maldivian leaders will not take long to succumb to either of the powers. During his India visit in June, Gayoom voiced his opposition to the US offer and said that Maldives has been a member of NAM and will remain nonaligned. In the forthcoming elections his party has fielded his younger brother as the prospective Presidential candidate while the current President, Muhammad Waheed
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