Yemen faced renewed turmoil on Thursday night when the country’s Western-backed president surrendered to the rebels who have seized his capital by tendering his resignation.
A Shia rebel movement, known as the Houthis, captured most of the capital, Sana’a, in September last year. Since then, the insurgents have steadily tightened their grip on the city, bombarding Mr Hadi’s residence on Wednesday.
On the same day, the Houthis broke a peace agreement and fighting escalated across the city. On Thursday, Mr Hadi resigned along with Khalid Baha, the prime minister as well reportedly the cabinet.
Yemen serves as the base for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on January 7. Renewed violence may allow AQAP to grow stronger.
The Houthis represent a branch of Yemen’s Shia minority. Their aim is to win greater autonomy for their homeland in Saada province and a bigger share of power at national level. However, they are viewed with deep suspicion by America and neighbouring Saudi Arabia because of their ties with Iran.
But the success of the rebels in capturing Sana’a and spreading their influence elsewhere in Yemen – including into areas controlled by AQAP – appears to have sealed the downfall of Mr Hadi.
The United Nations Security Council and neighbouring states had all voiced support for Mr Hadi. Yet the failure of the army to contain the rebel advance has destroyed his authority.
Mr Hadi took power in 2012 after the downfall of the previous president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who fled the country. But Mr Saleh has been accused of supporting the Houthis and using their success as a route back to power.
The US said it was assessing the situation on Thursday night. “Our team is seeking confirmation of all of the reports,” Jen Psaki, state department spokesman, told reporters, adding that so far there was no move to close the US embassy in the capital, Sana’a.
“We continue to support a peaceful transition. We’ve urged all parties and continue to urge all parties to abide by … the peace and national partnership agreement,” she stressed.
There were reports four provinces of Yemen’s formerly independent south, including its main city Aden, saying they would defy all military orders from Sana’a.
AFP reported that the committee in charge of military and security affairs for Aden, Abyan, Lahej and Daleh, which is loyal to Mr Hadi, said it had taken the decision after the president, who originally hails from the south, resigned.
Source: Daily Telegraph