As Barack Obama and Congress was preparing for the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, a coup was taking place in Yemen. The media all but completely ignored this extremely explosive development in a country Obama himself touted as a place where his foreign policy was succeeding. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that the president of Yemen had been kidnapped. Again, scant media attention. On Thursday, it’s being reported that the President of Yemen has resigned after the Shiite Houthis continued to control his palace.
According to a report by the AP:
Yemen’s president resigned Thursday, saying he had reached a “deadlock” in talks with Shiite rebels who rule the capital and had confined him to his home. His resignation raised fears the Arab world’s poorest country could again split apart, severely complicating U.S. efforts to combat al-Qaida’s powerful local franchise.
Presidential officials said Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a close U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida, submitted his resignation to parliament after being pressured to make further concessions to the rebels, known as Houthis, who are widely believed to be backed by Iran, charges they deny.
The rebels effectively control the capital Sanaa, several other cities and state institutions, but their writ does not extend to vast areas of the country that are predominantly Sunni, where its recent encroachments have fanned fears of a sectarian conflict. The Houthis could also face sanctions from the international community, which strongly backed Hadi.
Yemen also has a powerful movement in the south demanding autonomy or a return to the full independence the region enjoyed prior to 1990, which is unlikely to accept rule by the Houthis, whose power base is in the north. The Houthis are Zaydis, a Shiite minority that makes up about a third of Yemen’s population.
Hadi’s resignation came after several rounds of negotiations over a new governing arrangement that would give the Houthis more power. Many observers suggested the Houthis would keep Hadi on as a puppet to maintain the veneer of international legitimacy.
Hadi had earlier pledged political concessions in return for the rebels withdrawing from his house and the nearby presidential palace following days of clashes, but Houthi fighters remained deployed around both buildings throughout Thursday.
“We reached a deadlock,” Hadi said, according to a copy of his letter of resignation obtained by The Associated Press.
“We found out that we are unable to achieve the goal, for which we bear a lot of pain and disappointment,” he said.
Presidential adviser Sultan al-Atawani told AP that the Houthis refused to withdraw from the presidential palace, the republican palace where the prime minister lives or from the president’s house. They also refused to release a top aide to Hadi whose abduction earlier this week set the violence in motion.
Military officials close to the president said Hadi resigned after the Houthis pressured him to give a televised speech to calm the streets. They said the Houthis also requested appointments in his own office, the Defense Ministry and provincial capitals, demands Hadi rejected.
The BBC is reporting that the deteriorating security situation has led to the positioning of two U.S. warships off the coast in case evacuation is necessary, with what happened in Benghazi still on the minds of many. As for the strategic value of Yemen, it borders a very narrow waterway between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Not having a stable government in that country would pose tremendous risk to shipping lanes.
As Shoebat.com reported earlier this week, when things like this are set in motion, events often take place very quickly, as they are in Yemen this week.
On September 10th, in the same speech that Obama uttered the now infamous line, “ISIL is not Islamic”, he also touted his administration’s success in Yemen (video cued up):