U.S. Sta­tus in Mal­dives

Southasia - - BRIEFING -

The U.S. has asked the Mal­di­vian govern­ment to sign a Sta­tus of Forces Agree­ment (SOFA) to build mil­i­tary bases in the is­land coun­try. This is a note­wor­thy move by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion which is look­ing for an ag­gres­sive pivot in its Asia strat­egy and en­vi­sions en­cir­cling China in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion.

Fol­low­ing a num­ber of agree­ments signed be­tween the U.S. and the Mal­dives in 2010, the for­mer has ac­cess to Mal­di­vian in­fra­struc­ture. Wash­ing­ton signed an Ac­qui­si­tion and Cross Ser­vice Agree­ment in 2010 with Male al­low­ing the U.S. to gain ac­cess to its air­port and sea­port fa­cil­i­ties. It is ex­pected that the SOFA will ex­pand on the pre­vi­ous agree­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to the SOFA, the U.S. will en­joy phys­i­cal pres­ence in the Mal­dives, in­clud­ing ac­cess to mil­i­tary bases and to the is­land’s sea routes. More­over, the strate­gic lo­ca­tion of the Mal­dives is of in­ter­est to the U.S. as nearly 80 per­cent of the world’s seaborne trade in oil passes through In­dian Ocean check­points. U.S. pres­ence in the In­dian Ocean can po­ten­tially threaten coun­tries which de­pend on sea lanes for the trans­port of raw ma­te­ri­als and en­ergy sup­plies. It is ob­vi­ous that the U.S. is in­creas­ing its naval ac­tiv­ity to keep a check on China, which en­joys a vast de­mand for oil and min­er­als from the Mid­dle East and Africa.

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