Why Closer India-Yemen Ties can Help India to Achieve the Strategic Edge in the Gulf Region

During 1980s, India became more diplomatically active in Middle East affairs when Iraq-Iran war made uncertainty in gulf region and violence outbreak hit whole Middle East. The vicious episode of Iraq-Iran war left an ill-repute scar on mankind. Though many countries were immersed in choosing their allies and fronts, India took the responsibility to provide humanitarian aid to the people affected by war. India’s image in Middle East could possibly described as “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.
On the other hand Yemen is in war since 2014 when Houthi rebels took the reins of capital of Yemen, i.e. Sanaa and forced acting president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to flew the country. In 2015, the exile government of Yemen was shifted to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While, having a positive prospect for gulf, Yemen still remains a matter of concern for India since years. Even the efforts of United Nations and other international organizations gone down like a lead balloon with Yemen-crisis.

The need of India’s strong stand in Yemen could possibly solve the controversy of India in dilemma. The statement of Yahya Yahya Ghobar, Consul General of Yemen in Mumbai made an appeal to Indian government. He told to an Indian Newspaper that “We want India to open its eyes to this crisis and intervene in a way that it sees fit. We would like the Government of India to respond to this situation in the same manner that it would if someone tried to divide India.”

The people of Yemen are already facing some worst humanitarian crisis which includes starvation, diseases and violence. The major bombings by Saudi Arabia and USA killed many civilians till date including an incident where a bomb made by Lockheed Martin, a leading defence company in USA got stuck in a school bus resulted casualty of 50-55 people. The Houthi rebels on other side aided by Iran are playing a proxy war in Yemen against Hadi government which made a corpse pile of Yemeni citizens. India’s neutral stand could help Yemen solving the violence sponsored by rebels as well as foreign state & non- state actors. But again, the question arises that how possibly India could make a strong stand in Yemen?

Well, India’s famous rescue operation in Yemen that saved lives of 960 foreign citizens of different countries along with 4640 Indians when military intervention by Saudi-Arabia and its allies took place that led to a major fire to Yemen crisis. Operation Raahat was applauded by many countries whose citizens were saved by Indian Armed Forces.

Operation Raahat – People getting rescued by Indian Navy

Following the incident, India should strategically aggrandize volitions in Yemen since the country is in an important location in trade perspectives. India’s presence in Aden Port would also rapport the ties with East African Countries along with Yemen that could be a turning point for Asian giant to become more vigorous diplomatically and economically. Any possible step from India to Yemen can help both countries to push joint ventures for enhancing trade and other monetary activities for better economic growth since Yemen is facing from financial scarcity due to different reasons.

India’s relation with Yemen shares a benevolent days of yore when ‘Chaush’ community believed to be originated from Yemen, migrated to Deccan parts of India and that migration was supported by Nizam of Hyderabad. The men of Yemeni ‘Chaush’ community provided security assistant to Nizam during conflicts and today, they contribute a population of approx 55,000 which was called “a small Yemen within India”.

The ‘Chaus’ community of Yemen in Hyderabad, India

Some of Important points regarding better ties between India and Yemen are marked out below

India’s loss in Chabahar port, Iran should be a worry for India’s foreign policy to look forward at the loopholes and ameliorate the ‘dilatory’ system which is harming Indian interest abroad. If India enters Yemen, it would pressurize Iran to mend its way in dealing with India and this opportunity could give India a chance to re-build its interests in the gulf region.

China’s presence in ports of Djibouti, Iran and Sri Lanka is an alarm for India and in future it might become more globally active in gulf and Indian Ocean. Apparently, China has beset India in ocean and this could impact badly if India still hesitate in practicing active diplomacy. The port of Hudaydah or Hodeidah, Aden and Mukalla could help India to keep an eye on Chinese interference in Middle East and East Africa. These three ports are situated near highly strategic zones that possibly can oversee the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and parts Indian Ocean. Also, the Port of Aden is in the counter position to Bab al-Mandab, a strait for global trade that connects Mediterranean with Asia where China is trying increasing its influence.

Lastly, the prolonged issue of terrorism and pirates attacks could be deterred if India directly set its foot in gulf of Aden, as the number of pirates attacks have been increased in the region that has also affected Indian fleet since many pirates prefer a route via Bab al-Mandab to enter the Indian Ocean. The deployment of Indian Navy in Yemen could help the country to protect their sea lanes from terrorists and pirates while for India it would be a golden chance to expand its military presence in the Gulf region.

The Ports of Al-Hudaydah, Aden and Al-Mukalla are underlined in Orange.


  • Aditi Dubey

    A graduate in Economics from Delhi University. A master in defence and strategic studies from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She worked with Janes Defence as a research analyst in the defence data development domain. An ethical hacker, she takes interest in issues related to military tactics, international laws, arms acts and tribunals.

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