By Shreyan Acharya, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, IP University.
The Middle East is witnessing the most horrifying bloodshed ever after the Gulf War. The horrors of massacre, atrocities, rapes, displacement have traumatised the people and left a deep scar in their hearts. the sectarian violence has caused the loss of thousands of innocent lives. The crisis in Syria and Iraq has found its roots in Libya and now, also in the poorest country of the Middle East. The crisis in Yemen is no different from the crisis in other middle eastern countries. The sectarian difference has been grossly high which has led to this widespread excruciating violence.
The Story of Yemen
Yemen is embroiled in its most severe crisis since its inception as a state. As competing forces fight for control over the country, the future of Yemen looks tenuous at best. Yemen is situated in the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, people preach Islam and the ethnicity comprises of 65% Sunnis and 35% Shia muslims. The country is currently in the grips of a sectarian conflict between Shia Houthi rebels allegedly supported by Iran, and forces loyal to President Abdrahbu Mansour Hadi. The houthi’s are followers of the Zaidi Shia Sectof islam. The houthi’s led by Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi, began their first uprising against the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, for greater autonomy for their religion. The uprising also aimed to protect the Zaidi community and its culture from perceived encroachment by the Sunnis. The houthi’s have participated in the 2011 Arab Spring inspired revolution in Yemen that eventually led to the transfer of Saleh in November 2011. The ouster of Saleh was followed by a transitional government led by Abdrahbu Mansour Hadi. The houthi’s have recently taken control over the capital Sana’a by ousting President Hadi, who has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi led coalition has recently bombarded the cities targeting the ones under the houthi control. This attack has caused several lives and the fight persists. The coalition has caused fear and threat to the foreign nationals who work or reside in Yemen.
The Ministry of External Affairs issued three warnings to all Indian citizens to leave Yemen in light of the growing sectarian violence in the region. Approximately 4,000 Indians were stranded in Yemen as per the official statistics. Since deploying to a conflict zone to coordinate the rescue the government spared no efforts in evacuating the stranded as fighting intensified. As said by MEA Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin : “it is not just the intent and capabilities but also the diplomatic space to manoeuvre in such a complex situation has been a key to India’s success in the diplomatic tightrope walk. Also, India was the only country to launch the rescue operations of this scale and size and that is why the other countries have seeked india’s help.”
Since the first Gulf War, where many lessons were learned in dealing with mass evacuations from the region, India has honed its skills remarkably well on how to respond in a crisis situation such as this, and how to protect its citizens from a fast deteriorating conflict zone. Operation Rahat, the name given to the evacuation process in Yemen, was orchestrated from the tiny African nation Djibouti. India’s High Commission in Sana’a has also performed an imperative role, as it was fully functional by coordinating with the Indian forces which helped ferrying Indians and foreigners alike to Djibouti. In the end, more than 4,000 people, including foreigners from 26 countries who had approached India to seek their help have been evacuated. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, General V.K. Singh, himself travelled to Djibouti and war-torn Sana’a to oversee the operations and by his charisma awakened a ray of hope to the stranded people and their families that the Indian authorities are taking all constructive steps to evacuate their nationals from the war zone. Indian naval vessels such as INS Sumitra and Bombay were used during the rescue operations and with the coordinated efforts of the armed forces such naval and air force without any political interference, resulted in the successful evacuation of the people. Such heroism by the National guards and General V.K. Singh would always be saluted and honoured. It has left a very positive impact in the International community.
No matter whether we have several differences and animosity with any country, but India would always retain and cherish the principles of humanity. By undertaking Operation Rahat, India has set a courageous example, that it would always come forward to safeguard personals no matter they belong to any nationality. With a coordinated and well-managed rescue operation, India has invited widescale International appreciation around the globe. In total 26 countriles including world powers such USA and UK sought India;s help for evacuating their nationals from the conflict hot zone. India has, successfully, managed to evacuate many foreign nationals without any harm done to them. India also rescued few Pakistani nationals as a good gesture which acted as a coolant, and in return Nawaz Sharif government returned 7 Indian nationals rescued by the Pakistani forces. India has done a commendable job and the achievements of Operation Rahat cannot be overlooked. The Government of India with its well-planned mechanism managed to save thousands of lives by making largescale evacuations. The rescue missions turned out to be the biggest achievement and expeditious and quick steps saved many before the situation worsened.