Yemen Driven to the 'Edge of Civil War'

Houthi rebels have seized Yemen's third-largest city. Meanwhile, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-related groups threaten stability.
8:09 | 03/23/15

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Transcript for Yemen Driven to the 'Edge of Civil War'
Boogie rebels gained a foothold capturing the city of Thai knees. As the president of Yemen takes refuge in the south all of this happening want offshoot of al-Qaeda possibly iasis. Looking again. One region right now the international hot spot Yemen. Where in New York. The UN special envoy to Yemen Warner emergency meeting of the Security Council that Yemen is being pushed to the edge of civil war. ABC's image MacDonald has more. Tonight's game it looks increasing. Did it did speak. 100 US special forces and military trained it's most of leave this weekend. So quickly they left equipment behind. Just last month the US embassy withdrew stuff. Because we we are we're torn completely. We will have no intelligence footprint or capabilities. To monitor and know what a cure AT and crisis and this year militants or or doing in the region. Without that intelligence we cannot effectively stop it. On Friday prayer is twin suicide attacks on Shiite mosques fuel more than a hundred good. Now the country's third largest CD this whole into sheer beauty riddles. Backed by Iran and charging into these gaping security vacuum I'll come later in the Arabian Peninsula and Alex's. A long standing drone strike program so President Obama. Hailing success in Yemen just months ago. The strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines. Is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. Now ABC's Kenderick Allen join us from London with more and he wished. I'll a lot of players are looking for some control of this this there was as rebel group they started this all off by taking yemen's capital. Back in September what is their ultimate goal. We'll ask but the reality is it actually started long before September when I moved in the capital Sanaa this decades back. Well over a decade that we he's had problems with it at previous president who controlled say Yemen. That had been running in this insurgency throughout much of the lost decade. But things took a town injuring the Arab Spring. President was ousted. And then the V he's made then moved really we've in the last twelve months Sosa. Towards the capital they've now captured. Most if not old of that as well as terror trees surrounding it. I'd say they won't he's not necessarily control of the whole country although it does sort of look like that when you when you what's that part of crop progress that they're making. On the map what I say they want these these transitional presidential council. To move to would symbol representative. Type of democracy that night obviously feel they would like a greatest stake in. There it not the largest portion of the population this year if these we've been Yemen. But they say that any new league initiative should truly reflect the makeup of the nation. Along tribal lines sectarian lines and racial lines as well as regional lines. Wit which clearly are an important fact. Given this creative resources across him. And so now that they taking control of the city of time you send is essentially marginalized in the power of the president. Letting the president's power is already failing marginalized he. Was forced to flee the capital last month he's taken refuge in aideed in that port city in the south of the country. And and so you really it's the Beagle to see that he exercises any real influence. The only real power I he has he's vested in. Foreign countries we have the UN Security Council sort of giving him. Unanimous backing the international community is saying that he's the one that they recognize but within Yemen itself it's hard to see how president howdy. It wields any tree influence right now certainly given the fat vet. As far as the infrastructure of the states he's consigned. And that largely is based in and around Sanaa the capital. That's all under the control of this year if he revels. So talks we now about the US policy and its effectiveness not the elk al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also. Capturing more territory. Well these things are really difficult now situations the united sites on Saturday we heard these reports of around about a hundred. US military personnel not included some special forces. Evacuating pretty quickly it seems foam at base where there were operating in the south of the country. So quick was that a pot to win told. That there had to leave behind some of the equipment that they'd been using that now a long period of time the United States is being conducting a drone strike program. Inside Yemen we'd the support they say all of the local government. President Obama even weed in recent months had made hailing that as a success story. Talking about Yemen and Somalia as being examples of countries. Where the United States is being a fit Dee Lee working we've local authorities. To eliminate terrorist threats. They've done that through the drone strike programmers are fairly long period of time I think what we've seen now is the evidence that that hasn't really worked. Outcry during the in the Arabian Peninsula is really one of the most deadly I defective off shoots of the al-Qaeda brunch. Beyond that to win now seeing some. Ice is representation that in Yemen today declared incident offshoot if you like or or brunch. That's woods the end of last year and that has been some evidence not least of which is his claim that they responsible for that. Twin suicide bombings on those Shia mosques in inn net Sanaa the capital. Last Friday which killed upwards of a 130 papal. And it's at the threat obviously very real then because of those of those numbers of casualties that. Yes absolutely. We I think the thing that is really interest being down about this situation in Yemen right now is that although it's tapping into existing full lines within the society. Actually think this situation that's unfolding is largely entirely news. Yemen has not had a history of of really strong sectarian violence for example. There's been a lot of tribal warfare as some regional battles for control of areas that are results Rachel were resorts reached. But this sectarian nature of this violence right now is what is really interesting and S and suppose worrying to the international community. I think dissent season certainly get indication of that from the comments made by the UN special envoy to Yemen. That right now is a crucial Mon that there is possibly a sliver of an opportunity. To rescue Yemen from all out civil war because that is the trajectory that it's on right now. I given that the dynamics of the situation. Any civil war could become very protracted because you have all of these lie is feeding into one another. You have the fact that that Xia who T rebels are said to be backed by Iran. You have cast their in Saudi Arabia playing. A big role in influencing. Some groups within. Yemen you have al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula at play and gaining territory you'll also I have crisis attending to a asserts itself means this situation. On top of that you have the regional distinctions between groups in Yemen you'll say I have the tribal distinctions. Between different pots of Yemen. It's an incredibly complex picture. This posed a feeling easing to nationally at least from the comments of the UN special envoy that this could get out of hand very quickly indeed. ABC's management dolls for us and our bureau in London anguished thank you for that. You can keep up with the sort of real time download an ABC news happens starting this story for updates on the go you don't want you international hot spot and dance that's where New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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