Leaked draft agreement opens possibility for US base in Maldives

The United States has confirmed it is in discussion with the Maldivian government over the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), an unauthenticated draft version of which outlines conditions for the potential establishment of a US military base in the country.

The draft agreement, obtained by Maldivian current affairs blog DhivehiSitee, “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.”

A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Colombo was unable to verify the authenticity of the leaked draft, “as the agreement has not been finalised.”

“There are no plans for a permanent US military presence in Maldives,” the spokesperson stated.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

Senior Maldivian government officials were meanwhile recently invited aboard a United States aircraft carrier (March 27) as it passed by the Maldives.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen were flown to the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier as part of an arrangement between the US embassy and Maldives Defence Ministry.

The visit was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Maldives and the US government to install a free border control system.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said today that he had texted President Dr Mohamed Waheed who had no knowledge of any agreement. The Defence Ministry also had no information on the matter, he said.

Imad would not comment on whether the government would be open to such a proposal.

Spokesperson for the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said the party had heard of the proposal – supposedly concerning Laamu Atoll and the site of the former British airbase on Seenu Gan in the south of the country.

“We are wondering what our other international partners – India, Australia, etc – think of this idea,” Ghafoor said.

The party’s parliamentary group leader, MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said he had heard about the proposal “a few days ago”, and believed the matter would eventually be taken to parliament’s national security committee.

Draft proposal

Under the proposed 10 year agreement outlined in the draft, the Maldives would “furnish, without charge” to the United States unspecified “Agreed Facilities and Areas”, and “such other facilities and areas in the territory and territorial seas of the Republic of Maldives as may be provided by the Republic of Maldives in the future.”

“The Republic of the Maldives authorizes United States forces to exercise all rights and authorities with Agreed Facilities and Areas that are necessary for their use, operation, defense or control, including the right to undertake new construction works and make alterations and improvements,” the document states.

The US would be authorised to “control entry” to areas provided for its “exclusive use”, and would be permitted to operate its own telecommunications system and use the radio spectrum “free of cost to the United States”.

The US would also be granted access to and use of “aerial ports, sea ports and agreed facilities for transit, support and related activities; bunkering of ships, refueling of aircraft, maintenance of vessels, aircraft, vehicles and equipment, accommodation of personnel, communications, ship visits, training, exercises, humanitarian activities.”

US personnel would be be authorised to wear uniforms while performing official duties “and to carry arms while on duty if authorised to do so by their orders.”

US personnel (and civilian staff) would furthermore “be accorded the privileges, exemptions and immunities equivalent to those accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission under the Vienna Convention”, and be subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the United States.

US personnel and contractors would moreover be permitted to import and export personal property, equipment, supplies and technology without license, restriction or inspection, or the payment of any taxes, charges or customs duties.

Vessels and vehicles operated by, and for, US forces would be permitted to enter and move freely within the territorial seas of the Maldives, free from boarding, inspection or the payment of landing, parking, port or harbour fees.

Disputes would be resolved without recourse to “any national or international court, tribunal or similar body, or to a third party for settlement, unless otherwise mutually agreed.”

At the conclusion of the lease, “the parties shall consult regarding the terms of return of any Agreed Facility and Area, including possible compensation for improvements or construction.”

Each party would furthermore waive claims (other than contractual) concerning “damage to, loss of, or destruction of its property or injury or death to personnel of either party’s armed forces or their civilian personnel arising out he performance of their official duties in connection with activities under this agreement.”

The proposed agreement would supersede an earlier agreement between the US and Maldives regarding “Military and Department of Defense Civilian Personnel”, effected on December 31, 2004.

Diego Garcia and the 2016 lease extension

The US Navy currently operates one of its largest bases outside the US at Diego Garcia, approximately 740 kilometres south of Addu Atoll, the lease for which is due to expire in 2016.

The site includes multiple landing strips for heavy bombers, pier and port facilities for the largest vessels in both the US and UK fleets, and accommodation for thousands of navy personnel.

Part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the site was leased to the US by the UK following its forcible eviction of the local inhabitants – the Chagos – after its purchase from Mauritius for UK£3 million at the time in 1965. Then-Mauritian Prime Minister, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, received a knighthood from the Queen the same year.

In 1966, the UK granted the US a 50-year lease of the archipelago in exchange for favours including a US$14 million discount on submarine-launched Polaris missiles.

The lease is due to expire in 2016 with both parties required to end, modify or extend it by December 2014. However, the feasibility of an extension is uncertain as the UK has been engaged in a series of long-running and politically embarrassing court battles with Chagos islanders seeking to return to the archipelago.

The Chagos won a high court victory in the UK in 2000 enabling them to return, but the decision was extraordinarily overruled by the Queen’s royal prerogative. In 2008, the House of Lords overturned the high court verdict, forcing the Chagos to appeal in the European court of human rights.

In April 2010, the UK declared the Chagos Archipelago a marine reserve – theoretically making it the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA). Funds to manage the MPA for the next five years were provided by Swiss-Italian billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

A leaked US embassy cable dated May 5, 2009 and marked ‘NOFORN’, or ‘No foreigners’, subsequently suggested the marine park was a calculated attempt by the UK Foreign Office to scuttle the resettlement claims of the 3,000 Chagos islanders.

In the leaked US cable, Colin Roberts, the then UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Director of Overseas Territories, is quoted as saying that the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) has “served its role very well”.

“‘We do not regret the removal of the population,’ since removal was necessary for the BIOT to fulfill its strategic purpose,’ he said. Removal of the population is the reason that the BIOT’s uninhabited islands and the surrounding waters are in ‘pristine’ condition,” the cable read.

“Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the BIOT,” it adds.

In the cable, Roberts emphasised that the establishment of the marine park would ensure it was reserved for military use and “would have no impact on how Diego Garcia is administered as a base.”

“[Roberts] noted that the establishment of a marine reserve would require permitting scientists to visit BIOT, but that creating a park would help restrict access for non-scientific purposes. For example, he continued, the rules governing the park could strictly limit access to BIOT by yachts, which Roberts referred to as ‘sea gypsies’.”

As a result of the British government’s “current thinking” on the reserve, there would be “no human footprints” or “Man Fridays” on the uninhabited islands of the archipelago, Roberts stated in the cable.

In response to concerns from US Political Counsellor Richard Mills that advocates of Chagossian resettlement might continue “to vigorously press their case”, Roberts replied that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates.”

However, the escalating Chagos case in the UK suffered a setback as recently as last week – April 18, 2013 – after a UK court ruled that the leaked cable was inadmissible as evidence.


21 thoughts on “Leaked draft agreement opens possibility for US base in Maldives”

  1. Immigration US Border System is a proof of the Deal that US will control all Maldives entry points and the agreement was leak that it was tracking system for US forces.

  2. No problem, we got the coalition of the pious ---
    Imran, Jameel, Dr Waheed, Riyaz Rasheed to conduct a Jihad and save us just like they saved us from GMR. This evil Nasheed even after being kicked out, is making deals with the Jews.

  3. Drunk driving and indecent exposure – tempers rise over behaviour of US service members in Japan. Expect this in the Maldives? http://www.majiroxnews.com/2012/11/25/drunk-driving-and-indecent-exposure-%E2%80%93-tempers-rise-over-behaviour-of-us-service-members-in-japan/

  4. The mullahs on government payroll are suddenly silent because this will benefit them. Mullah Imraan and Shaheem will probably give their blessing to this project just as Baz and Uthaymeen allowed American military bases in Saudi Arabia. What a bunch of money-grubbing hypocrites. No more dheenattaka, gaumattaka. No more cries about Palestine or Afghan occupation. No more talks of gay marriage or Maldivian sovereignty. LOL.

  5. This was said by Obama if Chines getting involve in Maldives dont bother if there is base in Diego Gasia the US will have a base in Maldives

  6. The Controllers of the Maldivian Republic have been receiving considerable 'harassment and intimidation' from US Diplomatic Circles of late, concerning in particular the apparent dis-inclusion of it from the Maldives territorial dispute talks- that have been on-going between the Chinese Government (you guessed it), the Malaysians and the Government of Maldives (plus other unnamed). It is a really funny albeit serious story we tell you.

    It is well understood that The Maldive Territories have now fallen under the auspices of Beijing. It will fail all elaboration on this platform unfortunately. This control has persisted on it's government for decades. The recent shift in American Military doctrines away from the Indian Ocean and towards the Pacific, due in part or solely to the development of the Dong Feng 21D ASBM by the Chinese- have meant the intrusion of the US into Maldives National Security matters have been left hanging in the balance. Data had been provided previously also on this.

    In the middle of all this the United States have sought to influence the present transitional government in the hope of 'one last resort'- hoping or seeking to specifically intimidate and pressure the 'tiny system' in the Indian Ocean to give way. This was in part designed to assess the level of Beijing's unstated and unrecorded penetration into the control that the Maumoon neo-Islamist)Dynasty continues to have over the archipelago.

    In the past information has also inadvertently been released regarding the covert use of and operation of 'bases' or recon-stations by the national defense forces itself and in union with the Chinese- in various uninhabited Islands. Underwater Military Bases are also a serious consideration for Beijing at least in blue-print (not far off future).

    Expectantly the United States has been doing a little snooping and they are aware the Maldives National Security Data does not even preside in a national locality, rather many a times it is 'stored' 'elsewhere'. This has proven extremely 'problematic' to them (keke). And this persuasion to formulate such a SOFA Agreement has been the strongest 'attack' the Maldives has ever received from the Government of the United States. It was a challenge, again, directed to assess on the part of the US- to determine whether and how the Chinese Control within the Maldives will react, and even if they would, whether they should be approached in this manner. A lot of 'aggressive diplomacy' has been at the disposal of the Americans to try and influence or quite frankly force the country to comply to this agreement.

    International (Eastern) partner's were immediately and appropriately informed by this government regarding this diplomatic persuasion (assault) from the US, which is little more than a desperate attempt to try and take back this island nation, for which there had been previously no expressed interest. This was until the Chinese Connection was realized of course. The situation has essentially been resolved, and the sovereignty of Maldives will be ultimately established on its own terms we believe.

    It is extremely unlikely thus that this attempt to force the Maldives government into signing this deal will ever reach fruition. As said a lot of aggressive activity has been going on behind the scenes to secure Maldives. However this attempt once again being a probe to asses the ;level; of penetration China has (and this being confirmed)- they would it is expected back down from forcing this deal on the Maldives Government.

    It would have been a dangerous hour for Maldives had not the Chinese been in the neighborhood. Even the Indian polity has provided assistance or leverage on this matter (this is not uprising though). The Congress Scion has strong and deeply vested interests that relate to China as well. America in this paradox represents a parasite which is looking for a dignified exit.

    Understandably it is still difficult to refuse the United States except to a certain extent. And their approach to the negotiating table was entertained, but there was no consideration to continue the understanding beyond that okies. Their approach on these matters is quite predictable, and it is often laced with polite talk, persuasion, niceties and only at the final moment intimidation.

    We pray the Maldives continues to remain the safe haven it is for it's majority law-abiding citizens. We are fortunate to have a place to call our own, and so far off from greater international upheavals. Nonetheless the Maldives has had to form alliances and break previous considerations even, where it was deemed necessary and protective of national interests. The "talk" on this SOFA agreement still continue though, thereby it is accurate to say the threat of a presence still lingers. Peace to the motherland.

    Much appreciate the space given to provide a commentary here. Thank you.

  7. We always suspected Waheed was Robert Blake's puppet. Now we know.

  8. "President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said today that he had texted President Dr Mohamed Waheed who had no knowledge of any agreement. "

    Seriously? We are so surprised by Mr Mohamed Waheed's lack of "knowledge" once again. I believe the Maldivian tax payers should send Mr Mohammed Waheed to a reliable Madhrasaa, preferably in the Swat valley of Pakistan, where he can recover his brain functions.

    I call upon the honourable members of the Majlis to take the matter of the deteriorating brain function of Mr Waheed as a matter of national security. Elderly gentleman are, of course, susceptible to such health issues.

  9. Addu Gan ingireysinnah America ah dhinumakee varah nirakkoa kamah, ekamaki Imran beynunvey dheenee araamu faseyhain libeyheh ekalaki

  10. they are preparing for the NEW WORLD ORDER. we don't want US military base in here. there will be a dark side to this story.
    the US government is killing 100's of innocent women and children in Afghanistan, Iraq. and they a military base here? not a chance.

  11. It is the Government's business to know and disclose information to the Maldivians! Especially somthing of this nature and the known ties Waheed has with US.

  12. what is wrong with getting military assistance from US.

    US is the super wooer in the world and this will also help the safety and security of our boarders .

    US assistance and grants to the nations is much more than what we have got so far from India.

    Since Nasheed want to sell Maldives to India and any influence in Maldives by US will have a huge impact on Nasheed deal . This is is why Nasheed and his allies making a big fuss out of this.

    This MOU does not give away our sovereign rights and it is only helping the security and safety of the nation, where as Nasheed plan to sell the Maldives is dangerous to the nation.

  13. No.No.No.No.No!!!!!
    Be aware that once the US Military establishes a base in a foreign country, it NEVER LEAVES.

  14. @Kuribee "what is wrong with getting military assistance from US."?

    because if it was Nasheed, you'd be here, bleating like a donkey being molested by a mujahideen about 'national sovereignty, islamic caliphate and laadheenee leaders'.

    You are indeed a hypocrite. We thank Allah that such people form the core of the opposition.

  15. Arthur Brothers, Waheed knew nothing about!
    Now this, he knows nothing about! Quiet strange!
    The truth is he is well aware of everything but has no option but be the puppet he is!

    Waheed yet again seems to have taken hold of more candy into his hand in the hole.
    But as said in "mercy for the monkey man", he just can't let go any of it! So he sits up all day and night with his hand in the hole!

    @ Kuribee.
    You can ...... all you like!
    Americans and their ways are no longer a secret!
    Where every they land, there can be nothing but trouble!
    You say "US is the super wooer in the world and this will also help the safety and security of our boarders .
    US assistance and grants to the nations is much more than what we have got so far from India."

    Rubbish! If you look into our history, not the recent, but the past you will find that until very late, the USA could give us was a used, discarded, outdated lifeboat of the 60's my friend!

    Also you say "This MOU does not give away our sovereign rights and it is only helping the security and safety of the nation,"

    Very well! It can never, and it will never say that if an American, while on duty or otherwise in the Maldives, rapes, kills or does whatsoever to a Maldivian, they can be tried in any jurisdictions of the Maldives!

    No! it can never be agreed! It could only say that if there is such a case it can be tried in the USA!

    You seem to know very little about America and the Americans! Be aware and grow up!

    @Derek Postance on Thu, 25th Apr 2013 10:35 AM comment here seems more true to believe!

    Diego Garcia belongs to America's better half, UK! Therefore America cannot choose to go into a head on battle with UK when the current agreement expire in 2016!

    However, for the future of many, if Maldives can go into a decent, balanced and mutual agreement that is unbiased, and over security and other such issues, it may be worthwhile to think and ponder!

    But the way it is said right now, it would be like you putting the noose around your neck!

    With all this in the air, I just cannot hear anything from the lords who are ready to die for religion and nation!!!!!

  16. Derek, the US has closed many bases around the world, that is fact, your statement is factually wrong.

    I think this is actually good for stability in the Maldives.

    Your friendly, Big Boy

  17. I want to know what Adhaalath thinks of all this.

    Are they cool with the B52s leaving Gan to bomb their Taliban mates Afghanistan?

    Why the silence Adhaalath? Or are you too busy with politics these days to care about Islam???

  18. This is frigging awesome. I just don't wanna think at all about the consequences of this. Its the fun that's important to me personally. Think of the party's we'll have once the walking-mac-n-cheese's get here. It's bad enough Adalat is trying to stop our 'fun'. Forget rationale, reason or even renaissance- the world party must go on till, well, oblivion. Amigo's I invite you, welcome our Ameriknt Brothers and hore's to this filthy land. They are after all our every true inspiration. Photography or no photography. Pride in this case can never cometh before the fall.

  19. @Patriot on Thu, 25th Apr 2013 12:50 PM

    "Diego Garcia belongs to America’s better half, UK! Therefore America cannot choose to go into a head on battle with UK when the current agreement expire in 2016!"

    There will never be a battle of any sort between the United States and Britain. The only issue facing the British in extending the lease to the Americans is the on-going court cases regarding the indigenous population of Diego Garcia, who were thrown out by the British.

    Since the mighty always have their way in the end, the islanders have no chance of winning these court cases, so eventually, the Americans will have their lease extended, and that'd be the end of it for another 50 odd years.

  20. If the American military did turn up in the Maldives, it'd be a case of history repeating itself. After all, the British originally came here when their Colombo base was no longer viable at the height of the cold war.

    We don't have a cold war anymore, but we do have a very serious rivalry growing between the Chinese and the Americans. The Chinese for their part are very keen on keeping their major trade route through the Indian Ocean, under their control. As the balance of global power shifts towards the East, this rivalry will only increase.

    There's no Adhalath, camel herder, goat breeder or anything else that can stand in the way of this power play.


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