The UN Security Council is to convene in an emergency session on Yemen, where a separatist movement and terrorism threaten to set off a civil war. US troops aiding anti-al Qaeda efforts have already been evacuated.
At the behest of embattled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the 15 members of the UN's security body have agreed to meet on Sunday at 3 p.m. local time (2000 UTC). Representatives from both Yemen and Qatar, which chairs the Gulf Cooperation that comprises the Gulf Arab states, are to speak before the council deliberates over a negotiating statement.
Hadi called for an "urgent intervention in all available means to stop [Houthi] aggression that is aimed at undermining the legitimate authority, the fragmentation of Yemen and its peace and stability," in a statement released on Saturday.
Shiite militants from Yemen's north, known as Houthis and allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, launched a takeover of the capital city, Sanaa, in September. By January, Hadi was forced to resign, was then placed under house arrest and subsequently escaped to the southern city of Aden, which he has declared a temporary capital.
In his first televised remarks since fleeing Sanaa last month, the embattled president also accused the Shiite militia, which he believes has the backing of Iran, of staging "a coup against constitutional legitimacy."
US troops evacuated
Meanwhile on Saturday, the deteriorating security situation in Yemen prompted the US to evacuate its troops - estimated at roughly 100 personnel - from the air base of al-Annad.
The site has served as the launching pad for US drones deployed to strike al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
According to Yemeni military officials, the US troops were relocated after al Qaeda militants seized a nearby city.
'Islamic State' carries out first attack
The sudden emergence of a purported "Islamic State" (IS) affiliate group also alarmed officials over the weekend. On Friday evening, IS claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings on mosques in Sanaa, claiming over 140 lives.
Hadi condemned the attack as "terrorist, criminal and cowardly."
"Such heinous attacks could only be done by the enemies of life," he said.
The attack is being viewed as an exploitation by IS of the country's fragile state, given that the group is the sworn enemy of al Qaeda.
kms/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)