In a dramatic turn to the Great Game in the Indian Ocean, the United States’ strategies towards the island archipelago of Maldives have come under the scanner.
The intriguing ‘leak’ of a draft Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA] between the United States and the Maldivian government has led to reluctant confirmation by both countries that they are indeed involved in discussion with each other to conclude such an agreement.
The draft agreement “incorporates the principal provisions and necessary authorisations for the temporary presence and activities of United States forces in the Republic of Maldives and, in the specific situations indicated herein, the presence and activities of United States contractors in the Republic of Maldives.”
However, the US embassy in Colombo has maintained that “There are no plans for a permanent military base in Maldives. SOFAs are normal practice wherever the Unites States cooperates closely with a country’s national security forces. SOFAs generally establish the framework under which US personnel operate in a country when supporting security-related activities and the United States is currently party to more than 100 agreements that may be considered a SOFA.”
On the other hand, the draft SOFA is a sweeping document which says, “The Republic of the Maldives authorises United States forces to exercise all rights and authorities with Agreed Facilities and Areas that are necessary for their use, operation, defence or control, including the right to undertake new construction works and make alterations and improvements.” READ MORE