West Asia in Turmoil

As the expectations of the Arab world that gave rise to Jasmine revolutions of popular protests wane completely, not only does the horizon of West Asia appear doomed but the crisis is even aggravating with each passing day.

The latest three developments warn that the region is plunging into chaos.  Ali Abdullah Saleh, former president of Yemen which was pushed into war and internal conflicts by the political crisis that erupted in the name of Arab Spring,  was killed by Houthi rebels the other day. This raises many questions over the future of the country.  Ali Abdullah Saleh who ruled the country with the help of political tactics and intrigue for three and a half decade, had handed over power to vice president Abdrabbu Mansur Hadi following internal conflicts triggered by the Arab Spring.  He was killed in the middle of preparations   to switch sides with the Houthis for making a comeback.  Getting killed by those against whom he fought for half a decade and then befriended for a short time,  is the price he paid for uttermost betrayal. In Yemen, killings and political uncertainty are not new. Six presidents who ruled North Korea have been killed before.  The fact that four political leaders,  including the current president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi who has sought asylum in Saudi Arabia since February 2012,  were forced to flee persecution fearing for their lives, unveils a dark political scenario of the world’s poorest country.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in the war led by the Arab coalition force against the Houthi terrorists. Those who survived are spending their days in severe food scarcity and under the threat of contagious diseases including cholera. The United Nations has warned that the native population would have to face an extremely grave humanitarian tragedy if the Saudi-led coalition did not end the blockade and allow aid into the country. There have been no favourable responses from any quarters so far.  It was amidst this that the politics took a new turn with the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh.  Although Mansur Hadi has the support of the Arab coalition, it is the Houthis who have  control of Sanaa which is home to two million people.  Political observers believe that Saudi Arabia which perceives  the strength of the Houthis as lying  in Iran’s support and military assistance, might change the war strategy in order to reclaim Sanaa and to quash the enemies.    

In the middle of all this comes  a rarest of rare crisis that cropped up within the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) a union of six rich Arab countries has,  and triggering more apprehensions about the future of the noble endeavor that has made collective moves in the region since 1981. Abandoning midway the 38th GCC summit held in Kuwait signals the end of the union. Though at the summit which was thought to bring an end to the Qatar crisis,  the nominal  representation from the countries like Saudi, Bahrain and Oman was not unexpected,  the announcement of Saudi and the UAE forming a new coalition proves that the Gulf region is rapidly moving towards a complete change.  The expectations given by GCC are thus going to be shattered.   In parallel to growing as an effective economic coalition, there were also proposals for a GCC railway connecting member countries, common currency, common market and common bank as well as a joint army. The latest move of Saudi and UAE, the two economic powers of the region, to form  a coalition is a clear proof of the developments in recent past causing a political shift in a different direction. 

In the light of the recent commemoration of 'Balfour Declaration' that rewrote the destiny of West Asia in general and Palestine in particular,   and the global discussions on the topic,  most neutral observers had expressed the view that as long as the iniquities committed against the Palestinians were not reversed,  the region would not regain its peace.   But reports now emerging hint at the conflict getting more complex through greater iniquities:  US President  Donald Trump has issued a decision shifting the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem.  Though most of the neighbouring countries have registered their strong protest against such a move,  Trump seems all set to ignore all of them. It is most certain that the Israeli move to extend their occupation  to East Jerusalem,  which the Palestinians look upon as their future capital,  will bring dire consequences.   All events point at a scenario in which restoration of peace in West Asia remains still elusive,  if not impossible.  

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