The normally volatile Middle East got a little shakier this week with the resignation of the president in Yemen and the death of Saudi King Abdullah.
Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi resigned under pressure from Shitte rebels, who earlier this week captured the presidential palace. The rebels control Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, and are thought to be supported by Iran.
Growing concerns are over the economic collapse of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation. U.N. data show that the majority of Yemen’s people need humanitarian aid, The Associated Press reports. Saudi Arabia had provided an economic lifeline to Yemen, but most of that financial aid was cut after the Shitte rebels, known as Houthis, overran Sanaa.
Now Saudi King Abdullah at age 90 is dead. He and Yemen’s president had been key U.S. allies in the Middle East.
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With them gone, the region could become more unstable, adding to the growing problems in Syria and Iraq with the Islamic State taking territory and gaining strength and the instability in Libya, Tunisia and even Egypt after the Arab Spring four years ago.
It complicates chances for an Israel-Palestinian peace deal and ongoing talks to get Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.