Gabriele Köhler and Aniruddha Bonnerjee posted a very interesting piece at Policy Innovations this week on whether the ouster of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives sets any sort of precedent for the Arab uprisings. They identify three aspects of Maldivian political economy that parallel the situation in the Middle East.
First is a highly stratified labor market that relies on immigrant exploitation, paired with rising youth unemployment and disaffection. Second is the effect of rising food and fuel prices on social stability. Third is the rise of fundamentalist Islam, which grew opportunistically as part of the 2004 tsunami relief effort. The combination of these factors made Nasheed's control over a fractious young democracy quite precarious.
Nasheed had been emerging as an interesting global figure willing to discuss the ethics of issues such as global warming. In his 2009 remarks to a group of climate-vulnerable countries, he made an impassioned declaration: "We will not die quietly." It is sad to see him deposed right as his international recognition was peaking. A new documentary, The Island President, chronicles his first year in office through the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference: