Yemen Crisis

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    Yemen’s Houthi rebels have taken full control of the northwest Kassara battlefield and made progress on western frontlines despite airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition which backs Yemen’s government.

    Yemen Crisis 

    • Since April 2015, Yemen has been in the grip of a war where the Saudi-led coalition and the internationally recognised government are battling with the Houthis to control key ports and cities in the country.

    Houthis

    • The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), are an Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim military and political movement in Yemen.
    • Its members, who subscribe to the minority Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, advocate regional autonomy for Zaidis in northern Yemen.
    • They fought a series of rebellions against Saleh during the previous decade and took advantage of the new president’s weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas.
    • The conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

     

    Intervention of the Saudi-led coalition

    • The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa.
    • The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France.

    Houthis response

    • The Houthis have not been dislodged from Sanaa and north-western Yemen.
    • They have been able to maintain a siege of the third city of Taiz and to launch regular ballistic missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.
    • In September 2019, Saudi Arabia’s eastern oil fields of Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by air, disrupting nearly half the kingdom’s oil production – representing around 5% of global oil output.

    Ceasefire

    • After six months of fighting, the warring parties agreed on a ceasefire at talks in Sweden.
    • The Stockholm agreement required them to redeploy their forces from Hudaydah, establish a prisoner exchange mechanism, and to address the situation in Taiz.
    • The UN hoped the agreement would clear the way for a political settlement to end the civil war, but in January 2020 there was a sudden escalation in hostilities between the Houthis and coalition-led forces, with fighting on several front lines, missile strikes and air raids.
    • Saudi Arabia announced a unilateral ceasefire in April 2020 due to a coronavirus pandemic but the Houthis rejected it, demanding the lifting of air and sea blockades in Sanaa and Hudaydah.

    Implications On

    • Yemen: The city’s fall could also lead to a humanitarian disaster, as vast numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in the area. 
      • Around 140 camps have sprung up in the surrounding desert to provide basic shelter for up to two million displaced.
    • World: It can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks – such as from al-Qaeda or IS affiliates – emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable.
      • Yemen is also strategically important because it sits on a strait linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world’s oil shipments pass.

    Image Courtesy: EIA

    • India: One of India’s most important shipping routes passes through the Gulf of Aden, accounting for imports of $50 billion and exports of $60 billion every year.
      • Indian nationals, including Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, have lived in Aden since the mid-1880s.
      • 8 million expats living in the region with more than $80 billion of incoming remittance annually.
      • Therefore the crisis in Yemen can affect the remittances and destroy the shipping routes.

    Steps were taken by India

    • Operation Rahat: It was launched by the Indian Armed Forces to evacuate more than 4,000 Indian citizens and other foreign nationals from Yemen during the 2015 military intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies. The 11-day evacuation by sea started on April 1, 2015, from Aden port.
    • India has provided food and medical aid to Yemen in the past and thousands of Yemeni nationals have availed of medical treatment in India over the past few years.

    Source :TH