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Yemen crisis

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The current conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia

The current conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia

Yemen is currently in the grip of a deadly political crisis. According to the United Nations’ special advisor Jamal Benomar, the conflict is pushing the country “to the edge of civil war”. Yemen, the poorest of sovereign states to have experienced the Arab Spring of 2011-12, has a population of about 26 million people.

Two forces are predominantly at war—those loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied with Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis. The latter forced the President to flee the capital city of Sanaa in February this year. Both Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has staged numerous deadly attacks from its strongholds. The current conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which shares a long border with Yemen. Arab states in the Gulf have claimed that Iran is backing the Houthi rebels, both financially and militarily, although Iran has denied it. There have also been weeks of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition against the rebels.

Yemen is strategically important because it’s situated on a narrow waterway that links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. It is through this stretch that many West-bound oil shipments pass. There have been several violent conflicts in the country in the recent past, with poverty and religious radicalism adding to its volatile politics. Development has been hindered in the country by all this instability. So far over 500 people have died in the fighting.

The Indian Government, in an exercise termed Operation Rahat, has evacuated all its citizens and some of other countries from Yemen. As per media reports, India has rescued over 5,600 people so far.

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