Arab group wants India on board in Yemen

UAE envoy says New Delhi can help by extending diplomatic support to the Hodeidah operation on international platforms

Updated - June 18, 2018 10:05 pm IST

Published - June 18, 2018 10:04 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Ahmed Albanna, UAE Ambassador.

Ahmed Albanna, UAE Ambassador.

The Arab coalition which is fighting to secure the strategic Yemeni port of Hodeidah will be reaching out to India for its support, a leading Arab diplomat said here on Monday.

A formal discussion regarding this would be held during the visit of the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week.

Speaking to The Hindu , Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of the UAE to India, said the operation at Hodeidah would secure the energy lanes of India with the Gulf, and that the Arab coalition had sourced large quantity of relief material from India to help the Yemeni population.

“The operation at Hodeidah is ongoing and its main target is to fight terrorism that is a common enemy of both India and the UAE. Therefore, support from allies like India will be appreciated, especially in view of our exceptional strategic relationship with India,” said Mr. Albanna explaining that the operation will force the rebels in Yemen to sit down for a negotiated settlement of the conflict that has caused a major humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

Final phase

The military campaign on the port of Hodeidah is reportedly in the final phase as the Houthi militia members are retreating. The UN Security Council last week voted against an immediate end to hostilities in the port, even as India has maintained a studied silence on the conflict.

The envoy’s request for support from India, for the Arab coalition’s Yemen campaign has added a broader context to the upcoming visit by the Foreign Minister and leading royal of the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, who is expected to hold bilateral meetings in Delhi next week.

The Ambassador pointed out that the UAE was not yet offering a military role to India in the ongoing operation.

“India can help by extending diplomatic support to the Hodeidah operation on the international platforms. The campaign is in accordance with the resolutions of the UN and invitation from the legitimate government of Yemen. Our foreign minister will brief his Indian counterpart on the issue,” said Dr. Albanna.

Yemen’s port of Hodeidah was under the control of the Houthi rebels who are believed to be drawing support from Iran. The Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, claims that the Iranian military has used the port to supply the Houthis with weapons and ammunition. Mr. Albanna declared that the Houthis have been supporting pirates in the western Indian Ocean region. The campaign will ultimately help Indian maritime goals as the Houthis used the port for facilitating the piracy network in the western Indian Ocean region that is vital for India’s energy security, the envoy said in support of India’s interest.

The envoy said the Arab coalition has already sent a large amount of relief material including rice and food parcels sourced from India and that his country remains open to allowing it a broader role in resolving the regional conflict.

“The Arab coalition also includes non-Arab partners and we have remained open to granting a role to India to support in diplomacy for peace in the Gulf,” he said.

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