''Yemen is collapsing before our eyes. We cannot stand by and watch,'' says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday (February 12) that Yemen is disintegrating after the country slipped further into chaos as the Houthi militia consolidated their grip on power. "Yemen is collapsing before our eyes, we can't stand by and watch," Ban told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. "We must do everything possible to help Yemen step back from the brink and get the political process back on track." Ban's statement came as al Qaeda-linked fighters seized a large army base in a dawn attack in southern Yemen on Thursday, militants and residents said. The base in the southern province of Shabwa, housing a brigade of up to 2,000 government soldiers, fell after several hours of heavy clashes, residents and local news sites said. Al Qaeda and other Sunni Muslim militants have stepped up attacks since rival Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim fighters from the north seized the capital in September and started expanding across the country. The Houthis have sidelined the central government and have clashed with Sunni tribesmen in Yemen, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia. During the Security Council meeting, Jamal Benomar, the United Nations Special Adviser on Yemen, said the country could descend into civil war and warned the currency could collapse, causing default, hyper-inflation and a rise in the poverty rate, which is currently 50 percent. Yemen's government was a key ally of Washington in its war on al Qaeda. The United States has been carrying out drone strikes on militant targets for over a decade, many in the south. But the United States, as well as Britain and France, closed their embassies in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, citing security concerns since the Houthi takeover. Yemen is also home to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the global network's most active arms that has carried out attacks abroad.