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‘Major Role-Player in Sudan’: De-coding Saudi Arabia’s Role in India’s Operation Kaveri

© Photo : Twitter/ @DrSJaishankarOperation Kaveri
Operation Kaveri - Sputnik India, 1920, 26.04.2023
Saudi Arabia has presided over evacuation of over 2,000 people from 62 different countries since last week, per an official statement. The Gulf monarchy has also become a key transit point for foreign evacuees.
Saudi Arabia has emerged as an influential actors in Sudan as foreign governments try to evacuate their citizens from Africa's third-biggest country since hostilities broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces on 15 April.
For its part, India launched ‘Operation Kaveri’ this week to safely evacuate around 3,000 of its citizens stuck in Sudan. New Delhi has deployed two naval vessels—INS Sumedha and INS Teg—to transport evacuees from Port Sudan to Jeddah.
Two C-130 J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), originally based in Jeddah, are doing rounds between Saudi Arabia and Sudan to carry out the evacuations.
Operation Kaveri - Sputnik India, 1920, 24.04.2023
Political Affairs
500 Indians Evacuated from Sudan Already as New Delhi Launches ‘Operation Kaveri’
Over 500 Indians have been flown out of Sudan, as per the latest statement by the Indian foreign ministry.

Talmiz Ahmad, India’s former envoy to Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, told Sputnik that Saudi Arabia’s strategic location across the Red Sea from Sudan is the primary reason why other countries are seeking its cooperation in the evacuation processes.

“The sea route from Port Sudan to Jeddah has historically been used by Muslim pilgrims from Sudan and other parts of east Africa for the purpose of Haj pilgrimage. So, there is an old historical connection,” Ahmad stated.
In terms of Riyadh’s cooperation with New Delhi, Ahmad remarked that the current episode only “re-affirmed” Saudi Arabia’s strong ties with India.
He recalled that Saudi Arabia had also sent three planeloads of relief and humanitarian supplies to India in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Gujarat in 2001 which left nearly 20,000 people dead.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Extraordinary Influence’ on RSF and the SAF

According to Ahmad, Riyadh has had “extraordinary influence” over both the SAF and the RSF as it had backed both of them after the military coup against former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
In fact, New Delhi has said that it is closely coordinating its evacuation efforts in Sudan with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among other countries.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been among the key funders of the military government in Sudan since 2019,” noted the former Indian diplomat, adding that both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are apprehensive about the influence of “political Islam through Muslim Brotherhood*”.

He noted that Saudi Arabia hasn’t been able to “manage the divide” between the RSF and SAF which has led to an outbreak of fighting. Ahmad said that while Saudi Arabia has largely been neutral between RSF and the SAF, the UAE has been backing the RSF.
He said that Egypt, which shares a border with Sudan, has been backing the SAF due to the “military affinity” between the two forces.
“These countries don’t want political Islam to take root in Sudan again,” he explained.
Ahmad said that the war in Yemen, which pitted Riyadh-led coalition forces against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, provided Saudi Arabia and the UAE with another reason to expand its strategic influence near the Horn of Africa near Sudan.
“There are Sudanese forces which fought in Yemen under the Saudi-led coalition. The UAE, on the other hand, operated bases in places like Somaliland to carry out attacks against Houthis,” he said.
The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, with hundreds of thousands being killed between then and now due to the fighting. Talks of ending the war have gained momentum this month since China-brokered deal to normalize ties between Tehran and Riyadh.
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