Round Table Discussion on the current situation in Yemen and the region at Hotel Taj Palace on April 14, 2015

Society for Policy Studies in collaboration with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia held a Round Table on the current situation in Yemen and the region

Venue: Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi.

Key Speaker: H.E. Dr. Saud Mohammed Alsati, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to India

Chair: C. Uday Bhaskar, Director, SPS


Current situation in Yemen and the region

The Saudi Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati began the talk with a recollection of the good relations between India and Saudi Arabia, stating that former Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud who had made his state visit to India in 2006 had described the country as his ‘second home’. He reiterated that the two countries share commonality over a range of issues and continue to strive for peace and stability in their neighborhoods.

While discussing the issue of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, which triggered the Saudi airforce led military operation called Operation Decisive Storm, he highlighted his country’s continued support for the people of Yemen and their legitimate government. He argued that the minority Houthis, which constitute less than five percent of the population, had chosen to destabilize the country, prompting the intervention of the neighbouring Arab states. This revolution was ‘triggered from outside’- referring to a major non-Arab neighbor.

While referring to the civilian casualties and images of destruction from Yemen, he blamed the Houthis for intentionally targeting population centres, including firing projectiles against hospitals. Defending the coalition airstrikes, he cited its success in halting the advance of the houthis and described the rate of success as being “10 on 10”. He stated that the air operations were successful, and that there were no immediate plans to introduce ground troops in Yemen.

While discussing India’s position in the region, the ambassador highlighted a conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Salman where the two leaders discussed the ongoing operations in Yemen as well as India’s request to evacuate its citizens from Yemen. , Al-Sati reiterated his country’s position as a consistent and reliable source of energy for India. He further added the India-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission would be held later this year which would further discuss areas of cooperation and investment.

The event was held with a select audience which included retired military and diplomatic personnel, strategic thinkers, diplomatic writers and academic researchers.

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