It is not a day too soon that India issued travel advisory against visits to Yemen and has quickly followed it up with plans to evacuate Indians who are helplessly stranded in the chaotic country. Right now, Saudi Arabian warplanes are pounding targets in Yemen, and thousands of Saudi troops are deployed along the long border it shares with that troubled country. It is nothing short of an intervention. The countries in the region, notably those belonging to the Gulf Co-operation Council, are alarmed enough to rush into joining a coalition of sorts that is emerging in this intervention. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Sudan, Morocco, have all announced intention of playing a part. Pakistan is also weighing its options. The Americans are providing intelligence and other support to this effort. What does all this mean?
Yemen’s long, slow descent into chaos has been one of the more worrying developments of the last decade. It has been as widely commented upon as it has been catalogued. It began as part of the larger phenomenon of Arab Spring which saw the overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The government that followed had all the infirmities that engendered the current situation where there is once again no government and a consolidation, amidst the ferment, along sectarian lines. It is in this fluid situation that al- Qaeda and ISIS are also wrecking merry havoc. Will the Sunni-Shia divide encourage Iran? Where will this end? At the moment there are no clear answers. War by proxy in Syria has not had pretty results.
The intervention in Iraq has proved to be even less so. Will the Saudi-led effort be able to force a semblance of peace and stability? Nobody is placing bets on this just yet. New Delhi’s priority is clear: it must quickly, efficiently and comprehensively evacuate our citizens who are trapped in this spreading quagmire. We have done so before, from Lebanon, from Iraq and from Libya. We are becoming adept at this. It is surely a sign of the times.