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Iran-Backed Rebels Storm Presidential Palace in U.S.-Allied Yemen

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched an attack on the American-supported government of Yemen that, according to a report in The Washington Post, will leave the president of that beleaguered nation politically “badly weakened.”

The coup-style strikes by the Houthi rebel faction — believed backed by Iran — marked a major setback for President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the United States in the fight against al-Qaeda’s powerful branch in Yemen.

But it appeared the rebels would not immediately press their advantage and seek to topple the government.

A long televised statement by the rebel chief, Abdulmalik Houthi, leveled sweeping criticism against Hadi for alleged corruption and failures to unite a country beset by near nonstop unrest, a growing water shortage and a patchwork of rivalries.

Houthi did not declare change in government, but rather “demanded talks that could leave Hadi further weakened but still nominally in charge.”

An earlier report (embedded below) on CNN cited a government minister who claimed that the rebels had staged a coup.

The situation has prompted Senator Diane Feinstein (D – Calif.), the Democratic vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to call for an immediate evacuation of the American embassy in the capital, Sanaa. CNN had reported that shots had been fired at American embassy personnel and that U.S. Navy ships have been deployed to the Red Sea in case it becomes necessary to evacuate American personnel from Yemen.

USA Today reported that the United Nations Security Council has declared an emergency session to discuss the crisis in Yemen, calling for an end to the violence and calling Hadi “the legitimate authority” in Yemen.

The Yemeni government accused Iran last April of supporting the rebels and destabilizing the region. In October, the Houthis blocked the formation of a national government, and Iran acknowledged its support of the rebels. Shortly afterwards, Iranian officials boasted that with the capture of much of Sanaa, Iran had control of its fourth Arab capital. The growing power of the Houthis led Saudi Arabia to suspend aid to Yemen in December.

Earlier this week, the Houthis opened fire on the Presidential palace and kidnapped the president’s chief of staff.

A website associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) posted a plan for Iran to take control of Yemen, which included claiming that it is fighting “economic corruption.” Control of Yemen appears to be part of Iran’s naval strategy of gaining control of the Red Sea region.

Iran’s support of the Houthis is one of the ten ways Iran subverts the Middle East.

[Photo: CCTV News / YouTube ]