- Yemen's US-backed President
AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi may have fled the country on Wednesday, according to one report by AP, which cites senior officials stating that Hadi left Yemen by sea. However, other news organizations, such as the BBC, say that he is still in the country buthas fled his palace in the city of Aden for a secure location.
AP's reportsays Hadi's entourage fled in two boats after 3:30 pm onWednesday, under heavy security. It has not been confirmed by other outlets.
- Hadi's government has been losing territory to Houthi militants based in Yemen's north since last summer. In September, the Houthis seized the capital of Sanaa, forcing Hadi to flee the city. If he has
fledagain, either from his palace or from the country entirely, it would be a sign of his deteriorating hold onhis own country.
Yemen's government has been losing control for months
Regardless of whether Hadi has actually had to flee, even the suggestion reflects something that has been true for a while: his government is losing control.
The Houthi rebels, who have been fighting the government on and off since 2004, pushed Hadi out of his own capital in September — and are now close to overrunning Aden in the south, where he had been taking refuge.
The rebels have seized an air base 35 miles from the city, and there are reports they may have taken control of Aden's airport, too. Unidentified warplanes
Hadi has asked the UN Security Council to authorize a military intervention by any willing countries to stop the Houthi advance. The Arab League is set to discuss the request on Friday.
Iran and Saudi Arabia both see Yemen as a proxy for their competition
Iran's government is widely believed to be providing support to the Houthi rebels, though the extent of that support is unclear. Yemeni and Western officials say their intelligence indicates Iran has been training the fighters, as well as sending them weapons and cash; Reuters cited one senior Iranian official as admitting this was indeed the case, although the
The prospect of growing Iranian influence in Yemen has deeply worried Saudi Arabia, Iran's great regional rival and Yemen's neighbor.
The Saudis, who have backed Hadi, are unnerved by the prospect of a Shia takeover on their southern doorstep, and there are indications that the Saudi government is building up its military on the border.
"The Saudis are particularly concerned that, should the Houthis come to control Yemen for
The US fears this chaos could strengthen Al Qaeda
The ongoing unrest in Yemen has forced the US to scale back its operations against al-Qaeda
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the Houthi surge since September has pushed local Sunni tribes into alliances with AQAP, enabling the
The US pulled its remaining special forces out of Yemen this week because of the deteriorating security situation; it had already closed its embassy in Yemen. US officials have voiced concern over the impact this lack of personnel on the ground will have on the ability to collect intelligence on AQAP.
"With the evacuation of the embassy and now the evacuation of these special forces, our intelligence on AQAP is going to go down," Morell told CBS.