The research paper aims to find out the extent of internal security threat of Maldives and the actions taken by the military to maintain peace in the country. Maldives, the island nation, is situated in the Indian Ocean and consists about total of 1190 islands. Only 200 islands are populated with 393,500 people. Tourism is open in only 130 islands and rest is open for agriculture. Maldives is located in a very strategically important position in the IOR as numerous shipments traverse through that path. Hence, it is vulnerable to maritime terrorism as well as many external threats. Being a Muslim country makes the nation more prone to the conflicts, fought in the name of religion. It has been found that, more than 200 citizens of Maldives have participated in the foreign conflicts and that has made this nation highest per capita in the number of people joining in foreign conflicts in South Asia. The people, who return from these conflicts, pose a threat for the nation. There is also political instability in the nation, making it more prone to security threats. Sometimes, the politicians make use of terrorism to achieve their goals.Therefore, the geo strategic position, religion, political instability and dependency on tourism, all contribute in the vulnerability of the country towards the terrorism activities.
The government of Maldives has participated in many activities to control and eliminate the terrorism in the country. It has established the National Counter terrorism Centre (NCTC) on 25th February 2016 under the “Terrorism prevention Act 2015/32”. It aims to prevent the terrorism activities in the nation by formulating policies. However, as the terrorism activities are increasing globally, Maldives need to put more effort towards minimizing the terrorism and security threats within the country.
Statement of problem
Statement of the problem refers to clear and precise description of the issue that needs to be addressed by the researcher in the research paper. In this research study, the problem statement is how the military can improve its actions to maintain peace in Maldives. Since, it is a 100% Muslim country; the nation has become very much vulnerable to the terrorism threats. Although the government of Maldives has established the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and has been working with SAARC countries and the United Nations to counter the terrorism activities, the country is still very much affected from the security and terrorism issues. The research paper aims to find out how the threats from terrorism in Maldives should be addressed and how the military shouldtake actions to control the situation and maintain peace and security more efficiently.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of the research paper are as follows:
- To understand the nature of terrorism associated threats in Maldives
- To analyze the extent of national and transnational terrorism events in Maldives
- To assess the role of the military in maintaining peace and order in the country
- To analyze the scopes of improvement in the role of the military
Significance of the research topic
Security threat is a big issue for any country. If a government tries to maintain a peaceful environment in the country, it must handle the security threats and terrorism activities in a sensitive way and must try to eliminate those. The citizens must feel safe to stay in the country. The military plays a major role in this context. If the military does not work efficiently, the threats would not be minimized. Hence, through this research paper the researcher tries to throw some light on the efficiency of the military of Maldives in minimizing the terrorism in the country. This research would be helpful to find out if there is any gap in the effective working of the military to improve the security condition of the nation.
Scope or aim of research
Aim or scope of this research paper is to find out the role of the military of Maldives in dealing with the internal security threats and terrorism in the country. To reach to any conclusion, the research must find out the level of internal security threats existing in the country and the actions taken by the military of the country to handle these situations to maintain peace in the nation.
Research methodology refers to the systematic approach towards conducting the research work. It consists of research approach, philosophy, design, process of data collection and analysis. This is helpful in demonstrating the insight of the researcher towards the research process. The methodology for this study is as follows.
Since, the research proposal is based on the national security threats of the Maldives and the role of its military, therefore, secondary data would be best suitable to evaluate the situation and draw a conclusion based on that. The researcher will collect data on the internal threats and terrorism activities in Maldives, its impacts in terms of casualties and actions of the military in such situations. These data will be analyzed to get an idea about how the military have handled these situations and whether there has been any improvement in the security situation of the nation.
Research philosophy is the approach that helps in the design of the approach of the research paper. Among the four philosophies of research, interpretivism deals with interpretation of the social phenomena. Hence, researcher will be choosing the interpretivism philosophy.
Research design helps to address the research topic logically and unambiguously. Research design is of several types, such as, exploratory research, case study, causal design, action research design, cohort design, explanatory design, historical design, experimental design, cross sectional design, descriptive design, philosophical design, mixed method design,meta-analysis design, longitudinal design, observational design and meta-analysis design. Among all these types, the researcher will be choosing exploratory research. In this type of research, the researcher needs to explore the secondary data and make an interpretation of the data to reach to a conclusion.
Secondary data analysis mainly follows the qualitative research approach. This approach helps in gaining an understanding the underlying causes and opinions. Along with that, the insights into the topic are also addressed through qualitative research to reach to a conclusion.
The hypothesis that are to be tested in this paper are:
H0 (Null hypothesis): The military forces of Maldives are not taking effective actions and making comprehensive and indispensible anti terrorism plans to curb the terrorism activities in the country
H1(Alternate hypothesis): The military forces of Maldives are taking effective actions and making comprehensive and indispensible anti terrorism plansto curb the terrorism activities in the country
Data collection and analysis
The researcher will be using only the secondary data for this research. Secondary data is the one, which is collected from already published sources, such as, books, journals, official websites, etc. For this research study, the researcher will be collecting secondary data from official websites from the government of Maldives, news articles, research papers, journal articlesand books from the Indian Defence Services Staff College Library (DSS). The interpretation will be done based on the collected data. However, there is not much data on Maldives and confidentiality must be maintained. In this context, it is important to maintain the originality of the paper. The data may be already published elsewhere but the analysis and interpretation must have uniqueness.
Qualitative data analysis will be used to analyze the data. In this type of data analysis, there is no predetermined expected outcome. The result and analysis are much broader and contextual, the sampling is flexible and less structured andthe patterns are drawn from insights and concepts. Illustrative explanations are provided in the result. Since, the research study involves a topic that demands an exploratory research; therefore, qualitative analysis is the most suitable method of analysis in this case.
The major limitation of this study is the unavailability of the data on terrorism threats in Maldives. Since, the data is confidential; it is difficult to reach the proper sources for the data. For the proper research, authentic data is required, while being an issue of national security threats, the data sources are difficult to access.
This chapter addresses various aspects of security threats, terrorism activities and its impacts andsituation in Maldives with reference to many articles published in the media and journals, and from some books on terrorism.
Terrorism in Eurasia
This is one of the most concerning issues of the world, which affects almost all the people across the borders. In the Eurasia region, the Talibans were the most common group of terrorists while currently, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become dominant. Chopra(2001) writes in his book that, while every citizen of every nation has the right to live peacefully and with proper safety and security, the terrorists use variety of techniques to disturb the peace around the world. While some countries are badly affected, some countries provide support to these activities for their own benefits. Hence, some world law must be established to eliminate the terrorism activities completely. The entire world has become a victim of terrorism and every year millions of people are dying everywhere. However, terrorism in Eurasia is neither a resultant effect of Cold War, nor is it an effect of the terror attack on the USA on 9/11. The epidemic rise of the ISIShas been affecting the world peace for quite some time now. There are different nations and different groups of terrorists but the problem is same. The developed countries of North America and Eurasia are the major targets for terrorist activities in the past decade. Majority of these activities are conducted by the Muslim terrorists, who are guided by the false notion of religion. Nalbandov (2012) says that terrorist groups existed from a very long time, and terrorism was restricted mostly within the national boundaries, in the form of regional cold war or civil war. After the attack of 9/11, Al Qaeda came in front of the world in a massive way and changed the way the world thought about terrorism. The Muslim groups became apparent and some of the Muslim countries gave shelter to these terrorists. It was a very significant event in the international relations. The Middle East and Eurasia became the center of such activities and countries around the world started to get affected. The South Asian countries were also affected due to these activities but those are mostly internal security threats.
Terrorism and Extremism
Ahmed Niyaz (2010) mentioned in his paper “Terrorism and Extremism; A Threat to Maldives Tourism Industry” that, since, the economy of Maldives are extremely dependent on the tourism and the country is vulnerable to the terrorist activities, the tourism sector can be highly affected due to these activities and the economy can suffer. The bombing in the Sultan Park in the Male, Maldives in 2007 by the religious extremists has a bad impact on the tourism sector as well as on the economy of the nation. Prior to this event, Maldives was marked as a safe destination for tourists, however, after the bombing, which was mainly targeted at the tourists from the western countries, changed the perception. This industry is highly dependent on the global events, such as, terrorism, natural disasters, economic recessions etc. Hence, it is important for the economies, which are heavily dependent on the tourism; keep their environment safe for the citizens as well as for the tourists.
Terrorism results in unemployment, deflation, criminal activities, homelessness and many types of social ills. The tourism industry gets highly affected too. The visitor arrival gets reduced and all the tourism facilities, such as, airlines, hotels, restaurants, and the people employed in this industry gets affected by the security threats. Maldives is no exception. For an economy, highly dependent on tourism, terrorism has a negative impact. The effect on one particular industry has rippling effect on the entire economy in terms of market share, foreign exchange earning, employment, domestic and international trade and improvement of the industry.
Multi – Party Democracy in the Maldives and emerging security environment
Anand Kumar describes in his book that Maldives has seen political instability and the emergence of the religious extremism after the constitution was ratified in 2008 and introduced democratic rights to the citizens of Maldives. The rise of the terrorist activities and threats to the security was due to many factors, especially due to religion and the poor economic condition. The democracy gave rise to the multiparty rule in Maldives and political instability is a resultant effect of this. It also gave rise to the terrorist activities, as the parties were busy to achieve their own motives.
Trouble in Paradise: Islamist Radicalism in Maldives
Patrick Roberts (2011) wrote in his article in Jane’s Intelligence Review, that the terrorism was able to spread its wing in Maldives because, more than 200 people have participated in the foreign conflicts and many have returned from that. However, they still keep contact with the foreign conflict groups, which pose a huge risk for the nation. These people can create serious problems for the country. The Islamic radicalism is quite strong among the believers, although, apart from the bombing in 2007, it did not surface much. It has been found that many citizens from Maldives have travelled to Pakistan to join the Jihadi groups and those who return to the country, still maintain their contacts with those groups. Although these people mainly support the foreign groups, the possibility of terrorism in the nation cannot be ruled out. These activities make the peaceful nation and tourist destination a vulnerable security threat.
The country is 100% Sunni Muslim country. Although it did not have extremism in the society in the past, recently, it is growing an influence towards more puritan Islam. This extremism can often lead to Jihadi activities in the Muslim countries and that results in terrorism activities paralyzing the economy.
Causes of Terrorism in the Maldives
This chapter will describe the nature and scope of the threats in terrorism in Maldives citing the recent examples. The effect of political instability, religious extremism and the origin of different criminal gangs are described in this chapter.
The political environment of Maldives is experiencing some events which are regarded as unprecedented. This has happened when Mohamed Nasheed resigned from the post of President and Mohammed Waheed Hassan, the Vice President has sworn in as the President of Maldives. The President was forced to resign at the gunpoint and this message was conveyed to the Maldives Defense Force and Maldives Police Service. In this globalised world, there are a section of people in Maldives who are motivated by the violent terrorist and extremist ideology. Moreover, there are also some people who facilitate and encourage the Maldivians to travel abroad and get engage in different foreign conflicts. As the national borders are transgressed with ease by the use of mobile phone or laptop with an internet connection, therefore the violent extremist and terrorist organizations which are operating in the overseas countries can infiltrate very easily and spread their influence in the Maldives. In order to address the threats, social and domestic problems which are brought by terrorist or extremism activities, proper attention and national consideration is a must. There are only a limited number of proportions of Maldivian men who have travelled to different countries for overseas conflicts and they have taken their families along with them. As a result of these, their families have remained isolated from the community. Moreover, there are many social issues which have risen from violent extremism and thus it has affected the children and women.The president of Maldives has escaped from an explosion which has occurred on his speedboat when he returned from his luxury tourist destination i.e. from Haji pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Maldives is concerned by these issues and the government has continued to take concrete steps so as to address these challenges.The Government of Maldives is concerned about those people who are living outside the country and thus they have exaggerated the issues which are related to violent terrorism and extremism. These individuals are trying to make continuous efforts and thus encouraging the international community to take actions against the interest of the country which are based on false allegation and improper facts. These actions exert a huge cost on the economy and this will impact the people of Maldives. The Government of Maldives tries to condemn various self serving actions which are taken by some individuals such as participating in the television or news shows and thus they adversely impact the economy of Maldives. The actions which are carried out by the individuals in the name of democracy and freedom are regarded by the Government to fulfill the needs and interest of the country. These actions are considered unethical and they are carried out in bad faith and it causes no direct or indirect harm to the citizens or the country. Terrorism has spread in Maldives not only due to poverty but because of the Islamic preachers who supported violence and were allowed to act freely.Dr Afrasheem Ali whose party was a member of the governing coalition in the Indian ocean was stabbed to death. The authorities have not held the names of the person who has done this but the President has agreed that one of his team member was involved in the incident. It was evident that the extremist party was involved in the incidentIt is important to resolve the nationalist, religious and ethnic grievances because it can help in eradicating terrorism. Moreover, Maldives is dependent on tourism and the presence of radical elements with latency in strike and other anti-western sentiments will undermine the fragile economy of Maldives. Moreover, the country is also gaining international infamy which is regarded as the breeding ground for Islamic radicalism. The country has also become an administrative space for different terrorist groups particularly those based on Pakistan. These will tarnish the image of the country and it will also destroy the relationship with the neighboring countries.Another important example which has led to extremism is the role played by foreign madrassa education. The provision of free education by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in an important way for radicalizing the Maldivians locally. The people of Maldives are affected by the happenings around them. They visit the madrasas with a view of gathering the knowledge, but they return to the country with extreme religious ideas. There were also intolerance towards certain culture and religion that were manifested during the annual meeting of SAARC. Some Islamic protestors destroyed different monuments that were gifted to Maldives by the SAARC countries. The extremist has directly targeted the liberal intellectual writers and the other activists.A blogger Yameen Rasheed was stabbed to death due to political restive in the Maldivian capital. The exact reason for his death was not known. The various political issues were identified to be the main reason for his death. Iraq and Syria has also faced Isis influence. The authority never identified or tried to identify the motive behind these meeting and the attack. The Maldivians also got engaged in the Jihadist Group and a single terrorist attack perpetrated the Islamic terrorist.
Maldives is surrounded by ocean and the city has been experiencing rapid gang violence since the time when campaigning has started for the democratic election in 2008. The gang violence troops are mostly connected to the political figures in one way or another. Therefore, it can be said that this factors are encouraging radicalization on other countries due to the increasing number of gang crimes.According to the report published on 2014, Maldives ranks 1st out of the 93 countries in the world in crime levels. The level of crime is increasing since the past three years at a moderate rate of 56.82%. A descriptive crime statistics from 2008-2017 is presented below
Fig- Crime Statistics of Maldives
Source- Maldives Policed Service, 2017
Role of Army in Limiting Terrorism
Maldives is in the list of 34 countries that have joined the Saudi-Arabian military alliance to fight against terrorism. Various joint operations are conducted by the military forces so as to fight against terrorism. Moreover various programs were also launched to support the efforts of the military.It is important for the army to check that domestic security is not politicized and therefore strategic and unified thinking is important from all sides of the political divide. It is the duty of the army to deal with the terrorism domestically through various kinds of targeted legislation and robust institutions.The new coalition campaign of the military forces will try to fight against terrorism in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt.This includes the Jabhat al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State. There are more than seven Maldivian military force who were killed in this incident according to a report published by the local media service. There were certain Maldivians who were engaged in fighting against the Al-Nusra Front and the Turkish and thus they are killed in the battle. There is also an important amendment which was added to the constitution for the Prevention of Terrorism Act and it was regarded as a crime to join or fight in any conflict oversees. There must also be collaboration between the various state bodies such as tourism bodies, intelligence agencies and airports which are trying to tighten the potential terrorists and prevent various types of attacks. These measures are streamlining the efforts and thus it has become easier to identify the threats for the national security. Further, there was re-organization of military into a more military trained force after 3rd November 1989 terrorist attack. This has helped to reduce the criminal activities to some extent. Further, the establishment of a special military force has helped to counter terrorism in 2006. Moreover, the separation of police also helped the military to focus on terrorism and to counteract it.
The formation of the new military alliance has occurred after US has urged the Gulf Arab States to aid campaign against the IS. President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom has established effective and strong policies and thus this has helped in countering extremism and terrorism. The President has highlighted that they need collective effort in handling terrorism and extremism. The military forces must also be strengthened and the policies must be framed more specifically. The President has also mentioned that the exchange of ideas and intelligence among different countries and a track of the information that are gathered by the terrorist organization will be regarded as useful global effort in countering terrorism. According to Michael (2016), the international effort has also become very important because terrorism is regarded as transnational problem. The extremist also does not respect any borders or boundaries. People can also take advantage of the weapons and the resources and this will help in increasing the free movement of these goods. The drastic re-organization of the military in 2009 and the establishment of the four areas of command to attend terrorist attack have been strengthened. On the other hand, mobile technology and internet will make internal communication and the recruitment faster. The developed countries are unable to prevent different types of attacks and it becomes difficult to criticize smaller nations such as Maldives whose resources are pale compared to other countries. The government has formulated a national counter terrorism strategy and this will help in developing a legislative framework on the various policies of national security and the programmes for safeguarding the critical infrastructure and the tourism industry. The National Counter terrorism Center in collaboration with the Maldivian Defence Force is trying for the protection of border, check immigration process and counterfeit the terrorism. The formation of the alliance will help to protect the nation from the malice of the terror group. The co-ordination of the military forces with the other international organizations has helped the military forces to combat against terrorism. According to Neumayer et al.(2016), there are various measures which are necessary to understand and address the social issues which are evolving from violent terrorism and extremism. This will also help in the prevention of conceivable threats to national security of the foreign nationals who are trying to enter Maldives. The government has pledged to conduct different kinds of baseline which will help in determining the scale and severity of the extremism group of Maldives. There were also certain plans which includes different campaign which are considered necessary for public awareness and conducting security assessments for various types of infrastructure, seaports, airports and increasing the security of tourist and resort establishments. According to Samatha et al.(2016), the new anti-terror law which was passed recently has criminalized the citizens who wanted to travel abroad with the intention of joining the extremist group or getting engaged in foreign war. The aims of the army personnels were to protect the citizens of their country. The army personnels have made a firm commitment to combat terrorism from Maldives. They have promised to keep the citizens as well as the visitors of the country safe and thus engage themselves in domestic security and border control. The Maldivian army is also realizing the responsibility and trying to play a constructive role in trying to keep the islanders safe and secured.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Thus, it is necessary to analyze the intelligence and information which are gathered by the state bodies and reinforce the timeliness and efficiency of various types of counter measures.
Linking with objectives 1, it can be concluded that
- Thefuture terrorism, cybercrimes, cross border criminal activities and piracy are regarded as the important challenge of the economy. As terrorism is a great concern for the people of Maldives, great attention must be given to the various security apparatus which are related to asymmetric threats. The unlawful threat and violence are intended to coerce with the intimidate government or the society in the pursuit of different kinds of goals which are politically, ideologically or religiously related to each other. These terrorist depends on the public to create a strong base for support and this ideologies must be thoroughly supported in order to understand the radicalization. The various operation campaigns, Islamist terrorism and extremist groups are the growing concerns of the country.
Linking with objective 2, it can be stated that
- Both the Muslims and the non-Muslims groups must try to fight against global terrorism. It is necessary to pay more attention while receiving help from the foreign nationals when countering terrorism in the country. Maldives must take a proactive role against this terrorism by employing various preventive measures such as de-radicalization and anti-radicalization programs. The capability of the Maldives security forces to counter various terrorist attacks is important to be taken care of. The weak military forces of Maldives is also an important challenge which must be given due attention.
Linking with objective 3, it can be stated that
- Conducting various additional programmes in conjunction with other countries and international bodies on violent terrorism and extremism must be taken care of and paid due attention. The military forces are taking measures to address and understand the social issues that are arising due to violent terrorism and extremism. A legislative framework on national security is framed to take care of this issue.
Linking with objective 4, it has been found that
- The issues, which are related to terrorism and extremismts affecting the economy and the people of Maldives on a large extent and thus it is also causing the international community to help the people of Maldives easily. This will negatively affect the Maldivians who are travelling abroad for education, business and other legitimate causes. As global terrorism is an important issue for the people of 21stcentury, the country needs to pull together and try to present a united front against the different types of terrorism group. Maldives is fighting against this terrorism and thus it is creating damage to the economy and affecting the division and reality of international terrorism, which has zero basis fact.
It is necessary for planning and conducting the various programs which are aimed at safeguarding the travel industry and the tourist resorts. It is also important for planning and conducting the security programs for airports, seaports and other major sectors of the economy. It is important to conduct a baseline study on the various scales and severity of terrorism and extremism in Maldives. It also requires strengthening and expanding the activities which are conducted regionally, internationally, bilaterally to prevent terrorism and extremism and also to ensure that Maldives takes a leading role. This is done further by strengthening the measures so as to address the social and domestic issues which are caused by violent extremist ideology. The mechanism which is related to information sharing and gathering with the international community and facilitation of the timely remedial action. It is also necessary to conduct and develop rehabilitation and de-radicalization programs. It is necessary to enact and formulate the policies on national security programmes. It becomes vital to assess the potential threats of national security which are posed by foreign nationals who are trying to enter Maldives and taking various kinds of measures. The Government is also trying to take care of the vital issues which are related to financing of terrorist activities and thus assisting, financing and facilitating the issues who wants to travel abroad or oversees to participate in the terrorist and conflict based activities. Therefore, it can be said that threats from terrorism in Maldives should be addressed. It is also important to focus on the actions taken by the military to control the situation and maintain peace and security more efficiently.
Since limited data is available on the various aspects of crimes in Maldives, therefore a future researcher can take up further study to analyze the cause and take up further research
The established alternative hypothesis is accepted and this is clear from the above-mentioned point. Thus, it can be said that terrorism and extremism are affecting the people and the country to a large extent and the government is taking adequate steps to control it. The military force must take a proactive role against countering terrorism by employing various preventive measures such as de-radicalization and anti-radicalization programs.
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