The President of Yemen, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, has “no control” after Shiite Houthi rebels stormed the presidential palace and residence in a coup attempt.
The significance of this development can’t be lost, since President Obama hailed the Asian nation as an example of what is possible if democracy exists in the area. Only four short months ago the President said Yemen has successfully fought Al Qaeda terrorists.
However, it appears he spoke too soon and now the international community is concerned Yemen’s President will fall, which could mean the country could become a stronghold of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — the group that took credit for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris earlier this month.
The flow of information is fluid as the situation develops, but CNN reports “the President has no control,” as the gun battle continues in the area. A Yemeni official also labeled the attack “the completion of a coup.”
Conflicting reports suggest Yemen’s President was in the private residence, not in the palace, at the time the attackers stormed in and captured the symbolic building. However, the BBC states terrorists also attacked the private residence while the President was inside and is now a “captive.”
Yemen has been one of the strongest U.S. allies in the region, but has been affected by violence in recent months as AQAP attempts to overthrow the pro-American government. The government still controls the city of Aden, while the port of Aden remains closed, as well as roads leading into and out of the capital, Sanaa, according to Yemeni state TV controlled by the government.
The attack on Yemen’s President came as both sides were attempting to work out their differences, according the Yemeni journalist Nadia Sakkaf, who has been tweeting what is happening inside her country.
In September of 2014, President Obama called Yemen’s fight against terror groups such as AQAP a “success.”
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out [the Islamic State] wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
According to USA Today the Shiite Houthi have seized the country’s largest missile base on a hilltop above the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, and posted guards outside the president’s home, which is allegedly under their control. The U.S. has positioned the USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry near the port of Aden.
We will continue to update the situation with the Yemeni President and whether his government has been overthrown.
[Image via Twitter]