Charting a new course in the Maldives’ diplomatic waters, President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has emphatically endorsed Türkiye, heralding a fresh era of partnership that underscores a redefined approach to the nation’s foreign policy and global alliances.

During Friday’s inauguration of the Maldives National Defence Force’s Air Corps, alongside the launch of the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) secured through a substantial grant from Ankara, Muizzu extolled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the “Leader of the Muslim World.”

“I received the biggest support in this from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom the Islamic Ummah is proud of and whom we all see as the leading figure of the Islamic Ummah at the moment,” Muizzu emphasised.

Saudi Arabia, a pivotal nation in the Muslim world and a nation with substantial sway over global Islamic politics, might view Muizzu’s accolades for Erdoğan with a degree of wariness. The nuanced dynamics between Türkiye and Saudi Arabia, characterised by a blend of rivalry, ideological divergence, and geopolitical competition, might lead Riyadh to reassess its relationship with the Maldives, aiming to counterbalance Türkiye’s influence.

The acquisition of UAVs from Türkiye represents a cornerstone of this burgeoning partnership, bolstered by grant aid from Türkiye. This support, following Muizzu’s first visit to Türkiye after taking office, symbolises a burgeoning strategic partnership that transcends military cooperation, hinting at broader economic, cultural, and political collaboration.

This declaration not only underscores a strategic realignment in the Maldives’ foreign policy but also reshapes its defence and security posture, alongside recalibrating its diplomatic relations with traditional allies such as India, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as other influential nations like Saudi Arabia.

The shift towards Türkiye might be met with concern in New Delhi, considering India’s longstanding role as a principal security and economic ally in the region. India’s ambitions to counterbalance Chinese influence and ensure maritime security in the Indian Ocean could face challenges with the Maldives’ realignment, potentially diluting India’s influence.

Conversely, China, a significant investor in the Maldives through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), may perceive Türkiye’s escalating influence as competitive. Nonetheless, China’s adaptable foreign policy strategy is likely to adjust to these changes rather than confront them directly.

Furthermore, both the United Kingdom and the United States, keen on maintaining regional stability and safeguarding maritime routes in the Indian Ocean, may need to closely monitor the Maldives’ engagement with Türkiye. This geopolitical shift may necessitate adjustments in their diplomatic and strategic interactions with the nation.

The Maldives’ venture into a new foreign policy direction, highlighted by its growing ties with Türkiye, showcases the dynamic nature of international relations and the continuous evolution of geopolitical alliances.

While this shift opens new avenues for cooperation and support for the Maldives, it simultaneously introduces complexities in its engagements with traditional allies and regional powers.