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Yemen's Political Crisis Deepens After Government Resigns

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We're going to spend the next few minutes exploring some difficult U.S. relationships abroad. In Havana yesterday, the most senior U.S. official to visit Cuba in almost 40 years held talks about re-establishing diplomatic ties. We'll hear how that went in just a moment.

But first, to Yemen. It is a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida and the country has now fallen into political chaos. Yemen's president resigned yesterday with an insurgent group known as the Houthis in control of the capital, Sanaa. We begin with Reuters correspondent Yara Bayoumy, who is in the capital. Yara, good morning.

YARA BAYOUMY: Hi, good morning, David.

GREENE: So President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has now given up power. What events over the last 24 hours or so led to this?

BAYOUMY: In his resignation letter he said that he just felt that he couldn't carry out his responsibilities and duties anymore, ever since the Houthis rebels took over the capital. A lot of people weren't really expecting that President Hadi would resign - and his government, shortly before he did - because this came a day after he conceded to a lot of demands that the Houthis wanted and signed a deal with them. So things now are really quite tenuous because there's no state authority and the Houthis themselves have said they don't have any official position until they know whether or not President Hadi's resignation will be approved or rejected by Parliament. So things are really up in the air and moving quite fast.

GREENE: And what does it feel like in the capital right now, with so much uncertainty about who's in charge?

BAYOUMY: I've been going around the capital this morning. It's worth noting that the Houthis have called for a big rally this afternoon. They've been handing out flyers saying that they're going to be gathering because they're rejecting the division of Yemen, and also in protest against caricatures or the cartoons against the prophet. This is obviously in reference to French caricatures that have been in the news recently. So we're really looking out to see if there's a big turnout or not. I think people are really just in wait-and-see mode until more political developments become clearer.

GREENE: All right, Yara. Thanks very much.

BAYOUMY: Thank you, David.

GREENE: That's Yara Bayoumy, a Reuters correspondent who's been covering these developments in Yemen. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.