Global Ripples: Yemen Government-Houthis Clashes and Their Impact on India

The ongoing conflict between the Yemeni government and the Houthis is a major geopolitical hotspot with significant ramifications for international politics, the global economy, and trade system.

The ongoing conflict between the Yemeni government and the Houthis is a major geopolitical hotspot with significant ramifications for international politics, the global economy, and trade systems. These clashes threaten the stability of the Middle East, a vital region for oil production, causing volatility in global oil prices and supply chains. Beyond economic impacts, the conflict worsens humanitarian crises, leading to international diplomatic interventions that alter global alliances and power structures. For India, the unrest poses direct challenges: rising oil prices affect its energy security and economic stability, while ensuring the safety of its diaspora in the Gulf becomes a critical issue. Addressing this problem requires sustainable conflict resolution strategies to stabilize Yemen, ensuring secure trade routes and regional peace. Effective solutions include enhanced diplomatic efforts, support for inclusive peace processes, and investments in renewable energy to reduce reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Additionally, promoting economic development and providing humanitarian aid in Yemen could mitigate long-term risks.

Statement of the Problem

The conflict in Yemen, mainly involving the internationally acknowledged Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel faction, has evolved into one of the most severe humanitarian disasters of our era. This persistent conflict has extensive repercussions that go beyond regional borders, influencing global politics, the international economy, trade systems, and particular nations like India. It is crucial to comprehend these impacts and suggest viable solutions to lessen the detrimental consequences of this conflict. Additionally, the ongoing war has disrupted supply chains, exacerbated food insecurity, and heightened tensions among neighboring countries, further emphasizing the need for a comprehensive and coordinated international response.

 Background of the Conflict

The Yemeni conflict stems from deep-seated political, sectarian, and regional disputes. The Houthis, a Zaidi Shia minority from northern Yemen, have experienced long-term marginalization. Their uprising against the government gained significant traction during the Arab Spring in 2011, resulting in the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. The conflict escalated in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital city, Sanaa, and declared themselves the ruling government.

This led to a military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015, with the objective of reinstating the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The conflict has had devastating humanitarian consequences, causing widespread famine, displacement, and a severe health crisis. The involvement of regional powers has further complicated peace efforts, with Iran allegedly supporting the Houthis, while Saudi Arabia and its allies back the Hadi government. The protracted war has left Yemen in a state of dire instability, making the pursuit of a sustainable peace agreement ever more challenging.

Global Political Implications

 The conflict in Yemen intensifies the already unstable environment in the Middle East. The participation of regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Iran turns the Yemeni conflict into a proxy war, increasing tensions and destabilizing nearby countries. This turmoil hinders efforts to achieve peace and security across the broader Middle East. Additionally, the war in Yemen complicates international diplomatic relations. Western countries, especially the United States and European nations, are criticized for their arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are utilized in the conflict. This criticism strains their diplomatic relations with nations advocating for human rights and peaceful resolutions.

The disorder in Yemen also creates an opportunity for terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (ISIS) to thrive. These groups exploit the chaos, posing significant security threats to both the region and global security through potential terrorist attacks. Furthermore, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, marked by severe food shortages, lack of medical supplies, and displacement of millions, exacerbates the situation. International aid efforts are often obstructed by the ongoing conflict, leading to widespread suffering among civilians. The continuous fighting disrupts local governance and infrastructure, making it even more challenging to restore normalcy and support recovery efforts.

Global Economic Implications

Yemen’s strategic position near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial gateway for global oil transportation, makes its conflict a critical issue for energy markets. Disruptions in this area could cause global oil prices to surge, impacting the economies of both oil-importing and oil-exporting countries. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is essential for international maritime trade, with millions of barrels of oil and vast quantities of goods passing through daily. Escalating piracy and maritime security threats due to the conflict could disturb global trade routes, leading to delays, higher shipping costs, and affecting the global supply chain. Additionally, Yemen’s severe humanitarian crisis, marked by widespread famine, disease, and displacement, demands significant international aid. This shifts resources away from other global development projects and puts a strain on donor nations and international organizations to meet urgent humanitarian needs.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen not only threatens regional stability but also has far-reaching consequences for international relations and global security. Countries with strategic interests in the region are compelled to navigate a complex landscape of alliances and rivalries, further complicating efforts to resolve the conflict. The intersection of humanitarian, economic, and security concerns makes Yemen’s situation a multifaceted challenge requiring coordinated global response and sustained diplomatic efforts.

Impact of Yemen Conflict on Global Trade

The ongoing clashes between the Yemen government and Houthi rebels have significant implications for global trade, particularly due to Yemen’s strategic location near key maritime routes.

(i) Strait of Bab-El-Mandeb: This narrow waterway, situated between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, is a critical chokepoint connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Approximately 6.2 million barrels of oil pass through this strait daily. Any disruption caused by the conflict, such as attacks on oil tankers or blockades, can lead to significant delays and increased shipping costs. For instance, a Houthi attack on a Saudi oil tanker in 2018 briefly disrupted traffic and heightened security concerns in the region.

(ii) Global Oil Prices: Instability in Yemen can contribute to fluctuations in global oil prices. The fear of supply disruptions in the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb often leads to speculative trading and price spikes. The 2019 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, attributed to Houthi forces, resulted in a temporary surge in oil prices, illustrating the potential for conflict to impact the global energy market.

(iii) Shipping Routes and Costs: The conflict poses risks to commercial shipping, leading to increased insurance premiums and the need for longer, alternative routes to avoid conflict zones. This not only raises costs for shipping companies but also delays the delivery of goods. In 2019, the escalation of tensions led to higher war risk premiums for vessels operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

(iv) Humanitarian Impact and Trade: The conflict has exacerbated Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, disrupting local economies and trade within the region. Ports like Hodeida, crucial for food and aid imports, have been heavily contested. The blockade and ongoing fighting around these ports have hindered the flow of humanitarian aid, affecting regional stability and economic conditions. The clashes between the Yemen government and Houthi rebels pose significant risks to global trade, particularly through potential disruptions in critical maritime routes, impacts on oil prices, and increased shipping costs. These factors collectively underscore the broader economic ramifications of the conflict beyond the immediate region.

Impacts on India

India heavily relies on the Gulf region for a significant portion of its oil imports. Instability in Yemen and potential disruptions to oil shipments via the Bab el-Mandeb Strait could drive up India’s energy costs, negatively impacting its economy. India maintains robust trade relations with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The ongoing conflict in Yemen poses a threat to regional stability, potentially disrupting trade routes and increasing the cost of goods due to higher insurance and security expenses for shipping.

Millions of Indian expatriates work in the Gulf region, and their remittances play a crucial role in supporting the Indian economy. Escalating tensions and insecurity in the region could reduce employment opportunities for these expatriates, affecting their families and reducing India’s foreign exchange earnings.

Furthermore, as an emerging global power, India has strategic interests in the Middle East. The conflict in Yemen challenges India’s foreign policy, requiring a delicate balance in its relationships with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional powers, while striving to promote stability and peace. Additionally, the geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East influence India’s energy security and trade policies. A prolonged conflict could necessitate India to seek alternative energy sources and trade partners, thereby reshaping its economic and diplomatic strategies. The situation also underscores the importance of India’s role in international diplomacy, where it must navigate complex alliances and conflicts to safeguard its national interests.

Practical Solutions for India

India, with its neutral position and robust diplomatic relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, is well-positioned to mediate peace talks and facilitate dialogue between conflicting parties. By doing so, India can help reduce regional tensions and promote a political resolution to the conflict. Additionally, India can increase its humanitarian aid to Yemen, providing essential supplies like food, medicine, and clean water. This support can alleviate the suffering of Yemeni civilians, build goodwill, and strengthen relations with Yemen and its neighbors. To mitigate the risks associated with dependency on Gulf oil, India should diversify its energy sources. This can be achieved by investing in renewable energy, securing alternative oil suppliers, and increasing strategic oil reserves, thereby enhancing India’s energy security. Furthermore, India can collaborate with international partners to improve maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Joint naval exercises, increased patrolling, and information sharing can protect vital sea lanes and ensure the safe passage of ships.

India can also support regional stability by participating in international efforts to rebuild Yemen’s infrastructure and economy post-conflict. This includes contributing to reconstruction projects, providing technical expertise, and encouraging investments in Yemen’s development. To ensure a coherent and effective approach to resolving the Yemen crisis, India should coordinate its foreign policy with other major powers and regional organizations. Working with the United Nations, the Arab League, and other international bodies can enhance the effectiveness of these efforts. India’s proactive engagement in these initiatives can foster stronger international partnerships and bolster its standing as a global leader committed to peace and development. By taking these steps, India not only contributes to regional stability but also secures its strategic interests in the broader Middle East.


The ongoing conflict in Yemen carries deep repercussions for international politics, the global economy, and trade systems worldwide. For India, these effects are especially significant, influencing its economic stakes, trade relations, diaspora communities, and geopolitical influence. Tackling this intricate crisis demands a holistic approach that includes diplomatic engagement, humanitarian assistance, energy diversification, maritime security, promotion of regional stability, and coordinated policy efforts. Through active involvement in these areas, India can alleviate the negative impacts of the Yemen conflict on its interests and aid in fostering a more stable and secure Middle East, benefiting the global community. This proactive, multifaceted strategy is essential for addressing the complex challenges presented by the Yemen conflict, paving the way for a peaceful and prosperous future. Additionally, India’s commitment to such comprehensive measures underscores its role as a responsible global actor dedicated to promoting international peace and stability.

Lipun kumar Sanbad
Lipun kumar Sanbad
I'm pursuing my master's in Politics and International Relations from Pondicherry University, completed bachelors degree from University of Delhi. My area of Interest consists of Geopolitical affairs, Defense studies and Cyber diplomacy. I've also published my papers and articles in esteemed journals and sites like IJLSSS (International Journal of Legal Studies and Social Sciences), Samvada World, Global Strategic and Defense News and also presented my papers in national and International conferences.