Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi (C) is welcome by Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammad bin Salman upon his arrival in Riyadh, in this March 26, 2015 handout picture. REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency
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Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia against Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen have added a regional dimension to the conflict in the Arab world's poorest country.President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi was a close U.S. ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, but he fled Yemen Wednesday as his forces were routed by the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.For more than a decade, the CIA and the military's Joint Special Operations Command have carried out parallel targeted killings in Yemen and the U.S. military has trained elite Yemeni counterterrorism units. In September, President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a success story when he detailed his strategy against ISIS, which involves targeted U.S. strikes on militants with the cooperation of friendly ground forces.The Houthis generally are a part of the Zaydi Shiite minority, which accounts for about a third of Yemen's population.
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