The U.N. Security Council denounced rebels’ seizure of Yemen’s presidential palace on Tuesday and called on the world to rally behind President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a strong U.S. ally.
The Houthi rebels seized the palace a day after nine people were killed and 90 others were wounded Monday in one of the worst battles in years in the capital, Sanaa. A short while later, Hadi’s residence came under fire from “militias seeking to overthrow the ruling system,” the country’s information minister, Nadia al-Saqqaf, said on Twitter.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “gravely concerned,” and the 15 members of the Security Council harshly condemned the rebels, asserting that Hadi “is the legitimate authority” in Yemen.
U.S. defense officials told NBC News that there that there appears to be no imminent threat to the U.S. Embassy and that there is as yet no “active planning” to launch an evacuation operation to airlift U.S. personnel out of Sanaa. The USS Iwo Jima, a Navy amphibious assault ship, remains within flight distance if the State Department requests an evacuation, the officials said.
The Houthis are seen by their critics as a proxy of Shiite Iran — charges the Houthis deny — and are believed to be allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in a 2012 deal after Arab Spring protests. They oppose al-Qaeda but are also hostile to the U.S.