NBC's Richard Engel: "Direct Iranian Proxy" Fighting For Control of Yemen; "New Place Where ISIS Can Have A Base"

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RICHARD ENGEL, NBC: Yemen has been a fragile country for the 20 years or so I’ve been talking about Yemen. But I’ve never seen Yemen like it is right now. You said it's on the brink of a civil war, maybe it's even in a civil war. You have the U.S. backed government, which the U.S. has been backing politically, financially and militarily for several years. They are on the run.

You have the government now operating as a government in exile in a small portion of the country. And these Shiite rebel groups, known as the Houthis, allegedly backed by Iran, if you ask other people in the region they'll all say it is a direct Iranian proxy, fighting it out for control of this country and tip of the Arabian peninsula. while this war is going on, this is a real war with tanks and artillery and cities, a new city was just taken by rebels over the weekend, while this is going on and the country is in chaos, you have Isis making a run for it.

Isis is trying to eclipse al Qaeda, trying to establish a base in the country and carrying out several attacks, including the one on Friday, in which about 140 people were killed...

What’s happening in Yemen is there is a new place where Isis can have a base. Yet again, the Sunni/Shia conflict now spreading across the Islamic world and across the Middle East part of the Islamic world in particular, Isis is finding a home on that very volatile and ancient fault line between Sunni and Shia Muslims and that's a problem for the region and for the United States especially when you consider Isis is a group which has said many times it considers the United States, its avowed enemy and wants to do what it can to respond and attack...

ANDREA MITCHELL: And by the way, the Saudi foreign minister, in a news conference today issued a call, and said that Riyadh and other Arab Sunni nations are going to answer this call to try to counteract this Shiite rebellion in there.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC: What he said, is the way he was couching that call, he said that this Shiite rebellion in Yemen is a state attacking another state. He was directly accusing Iran of being behind the Shiite uprising there and accusing Iran of spreading its influence trying to take over Yemen. If you're sitting back from the Saudi perspective, by the way, Yemen is right next to Saudi Arabia. You’re seeing Iran spreading its influence in your neighbor, Yemen, and Iran spreading its influence in your other neighbor, Iraq.

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