Written by: Ali Assad
Is President Nasheed a friend or foe of Israel?
Let’s dive in and see the famous Island President for what he truly believes in based on facts and facts only.
Maldives and Israel first established diplomatic relations in 1965, the year in which Maldives gained independence and joined United Nations. Many countries were opposed to such a small nation joining the UN and it is widely believed that Maldives made a symbiotic diplomatic deal with Israel for acceptance in the UN. Israel was the third state to recognize the Muslim island nation and its ambassador was the first to present his credentials.
However, after the Arab-Israel war of 1973, Maldives suspended diplomatic relations with Israel in 1974.
Following Israel’s recognition of and entering into negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), their relationship with Maldives can be best described as unofficially cordial-at the best of times, from around 1993 onward.
After 35 years’ ties improved again; the 2008 government of Mohamed Nasheed started maintaining a healthy relationship of appreciation and friendship with Israel.
In 2009, diplomatic ties with Israel were established again and in May 2011, the Maldives’ then-foreign minister, Kerefa Ahmed Naseem (Nasheed’s uncle), became the nation’s first top official to visit Israel. During his four-day stay he met with President Shimon Peres and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, laid a wreath at Yad Vashem and visited other sites throughout Israel.
During Nasheed’s short term in office, the two states signed three agreements in the fields of health, tourism and education.
A delegation of eye doctors from the Israeli humanitarian aid organization Eye from Zion visited the Maldives and performed eye operations. Israeli tourists were now able to visit the Maldives without a visa. Nasheed even tried to facilitate direct transfer of Israeli flights to Maldives which were halted largely due to opposition from the general public, who had negative sentiments towards an unexpectedly hurried, suspiciously over friendly relation with Israel, while the Palestine situation was deteriorating.
Nasheed’s friendship with Israel became so strong that he betrayed Palestinians in the UNESCO vote to admit Palestine. It was rumored by Maldivian opposition that USD900 million payment was agreed with Nasheed for the vote sale and subsequent unconditional support of Israel.
All this changed, when pro-Israel stance Nasheed was replaced by Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik in 2012. An independent inquiry commission report into the resignation of Nasheed rejected the allegations of coup.
In stark contrast to Nasheed’s uncle Kerefa Naseem’s visit to Israel, President Mohammed Waheed Hassan’s four-day visit included trips to Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, where he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and laid a wreath at the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He skipped visiting Israel altogether.
To the present day, the atmosphere remains as nothing more than “plain diplomatic relations”.
So why did President Nasheed call for Jihad against Israel?
The answer lies in the 2014 Gaza war, also known as Operation Protective Edge and local Maldivian sentiments of a 100% Muslim nation.
The predominant view or belief in Maldives is that Israel must lift the siege in Gaza and accept a two-state solution. The versions that Israel is “defending” itself against stone throwing Palestinians using state of the art sophisticated military weapons is not digested well locally within Maldivians.
To please the masses, Nasheed’s first tweet on 9 July 2014 condemned Israel – “I call on Israel to cease hostilities in Gaza. Both sides must work for peace, a two-state solution & credible Palestinian state”.
Maybe due to backlash from Western friends and the United States, the tone in Nasheed tweet changed the very next day. It was very diplomatic and balanced, denouncing violence from both sides – “All human rights defenders must raise their voice against the indiscriminate killings in Gaza.
From the experience of the first tweet on the subject, a far more enlightened Nasheed was clever to use the Maldivian language Dhivehi as a smoke screen to fool internationally the Israelis and the West, while generating support from the local masses. The same day the tweet in Dhivehi was a far cry to the one in English.
Translation of Nasheed’s second tweet on the same day on 10 July 2014: “I request the people of Maldives to raise their voice against Israel, for the crimes against humanity conducted by Israel in Gaza.”
As the war progressed and the calls for peace reverberated, so did the ferocity of Nasheed’s local rants and tweets conducted safely in Dhivehi, even calling on the Maldivian National Defence Force to wage war against Israel. With the new-found courage in the protection of the language barrier camouflage, his tweets climaxed by calling his political party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members for Jihad against Israel.
Translation of Nasheed’s tweet on 13 July 2014: “In 1943, 12 Maldivians went to defend Ceylon. Today there is no reason why an MNDF squad should not be sent to Gaza. MDP is ready to go.”
Translation of Nasheed’s next tweet on the subject on 17 July 2014: “The current (President Yameen’s) government cannot care for Gaza. I request for volunteers from MDP, who must be the first to recruit “Human Shields” and arrange to send to Gaza.”
The so-called friend of Israel even rallied to boycott Israeli goods and stop Israeli tourists visiting Maldives.
Translation of the final tweet on the subject on 29 July 2014: “The current (President Yameen’s) government has lied to its people, saying that they have stopped trade with Israel. Israeli tourists are coming to Maldives.”
Clearly Nasheed is neither a friend or foe of Israel and even though he looks beautiful in his democracy makeup, he is nothing more than just a political prostitute.
A Westerner new in Maldivian politics might get deceived by Nasheed’s web of lies that Islamist radical elements within President Yameen’s government is waging war against Israel and the West. The reality is that the so called “radical Islamists party” claimed by Nasheed, the Adhaalath Party came to power in coalition with Nasheed in 2008. And what’s more, they are currently in a coalition with Nasheed to topple Yameen off his office.
President Nasheed is a vulture disguised as a white dove, circling the political arena, scavenging for wealth and power.