Yemen is in turmoil. India swiftly launched operation ‘Raahat’ to rescue its nationals from the region. But what is happening in the West Asian geopolitics is something deeper than what apparently looks.
On the one hand when Iran is looking forward for the lifting of economic sanctions with the ongoing nuclear negotiations, new front has already opened up for them in Yemen. Arab League forces have decided to take on the Hautis who are believed to be supported by Iran. On the African front, Kenya has faced another deadly attack by the notorious al-Shabab which is part of the larger al-Qaeda network. Pakistan has been in turmoil for a long and Baluch nationalists have challenged China by abducting workers from the infrastructure development projects and bursting five oil tankers. Though elections have brought some sort of lull, Afghanistan is far from a stable polity. Global community at large and specifically India as an emerging power should take a shock of these geopolitical transformations for formulating future strategies.
First of all, West Asia is in flux. The tussle for supremacy between Shia and Sunni Muslims is taking an ugly turn. The internal strife among Sunnis with Taliban and the Islamic State fighting for space among the global Islamists is embroiling fast. With Saudi Arabia and Iran involving themselves in the crisis in Yemen, West Asia is heading for major showdown. Frankly, neither the NATO forces nor powers like India or China have clue to address this growing menace. The phenomenon of all groups claiming to be the only real followers of Islam and using brutal violence against civilians is pushing the region towards stateless stage.
This anarchy is further compounded by the US rapprochement with Iran. The NATO bloc, till now was strongly allying with the Saudi kingdom. US negotiations with nuclearised Iran are going to change the equations forever. Saudi response with regrouping of the Arab League is more dangerous proposition. The oil rich region is not going to put strain on the economy but all over international stability and security.
Lastly, amidst all these upheavals, edgy situation on Pakistan-Afghanistan border is not much talked about. The recent movements of Pak Taliban and various sub-national groups in this region can be major concern for India. The withdrawal of American forces will give them open ground to operate. With the US forces withdrawing from the region, Taliban forces seating on the Pakistan side of the border is ready to occupy the space.
This tricky situation has also provided ample opportunities for countries like India to reposition them in the region. Till now India has been sensitive towards its large Muslim population and taking ambiguous position on strategic issues. India has opportunity to engage with Iran with fresh approach. India carries immense goodwill in Afghanistan. India has to pull up its socks to occupy space in the strategically most important neighbourhood. Most importantly, India has to take an aggressive stand along with the global community on the issue of Jihadi terrorism. As Dr Ambedkar warned in the pre-independence period, political Islam has potential to destablise the entire world. Now the time is ripe to expose this threat on international forums.