Yemen: Pres. Obama's 'success' story in chaos

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 23, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ANDREA TANTAROS,'ON THE RECORD' GUEST HOST: On to Yemen, where thousands of people are protesting in the streets as Iranian-backed rebels secure their hold on the war-torn country. The chaos breaking out just one day after Yemen's U.S.-backed president abruptly resigned from power.

GRN reporter, Charlene Rodrigues, is live from Yemen -- Charlene?

CHARLENE RODRIGUES, GRN REPORTER: Yes, street demonstrations not only in Saana but also down south. But the reasons for the demonstrations obviously deferred in the north, they were protesting the events yesterday, and in the south, they are driven to seek their own independence.

Now, Yemen is without a government. The prime minister of the cabinet resigned clearly and there is no president. On Sunday, what will happen next is, on Sunday, we will learn whether this resignation has been accepted or rejected. If it is accepted, then, effectively, the interim heads will be the speaker of the parliament for about 60 days. And if it's rejected, I mean, President Harvey will meet for the next three months until there is a presidential election. But obviously, in the interim, it's driven Yemen into a deeper chaos.

TANTAROS: It looks like extremely volatile situation, one that this administration didn't seem to be anticipating. Of course, they pointed to Yemen as a success.

Stay safe, Charlene. Thanks for that report.

And the turmoil in Yemen threatening American efforts to combat one of the most powerful al Qaeda branches in the world. That's not the only problem. The death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia triggering new fears that the instability in the Middle East may be a worse case scenario for the United States.

Representative Ron DeSantis joins us. So, Ron, I just mentioned the administration -- we've heard before President Obama being surprised by certain things, that he is not showing up for intelligence briefings. Is this another missed scenario? Because this is one situation in Yemen. Yemen was actually a country that the administration pointed to as a success. So did this sneak up on the administration or has this been pretty volatile for a long time?

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: When he cited Yemen as a success just a few months ago, I winced at that, because there has been a lot of instability. AQAP has been operating there for a long time.

Me and some of my Republican colleagues, we have skirmishes with the president about his executive overreach. We sometimes say he sometimes acts like a king. But I don't think anyone we would ever confuse this president with King Midas. Because he doesn't have the Midas touch when he gets involved or he cites these examples, they tend to crumble after the fact, whether it's Libya, whether it's his involvement in Syria. And now, having cited Yemen, we are looking at a situation where you are going to have Iranian-backed militants seize control of the government.

The moderate Sunni establishment, who we had been allied with, they are being pushed out. That's going to actually give al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula more berth to be able to operate. Of course, they are a very lethal group. This is going south very quickly. And I think the president was just naive back in September when he cited it as a success story.

TANTAROS: He also didn't mention al Qaeda in his State of the Union, which is a bit strange, because you talk about the Sunni government collapsing, creating this vacuum for al Qaeda to rise up. Speak a little bit more, Congressman, about the relation and how this impacts Iran? Of course, you know President Obama saying he would veto any legislation that you or your colleagues or anyone in the Senate passes and sends to his desk. Do you sense, Congressman, that with this bill, particularly, on Iranian sanctions, that you may get enough support in the Senate to override a presidential veto?

DESANTIS: Absolutely. I think we should have passed the sanctions yesterday. I hope we will do it very soon.

This administration, over the last six years, what we have seen is a huge increase in Iranian power. They are dominant in Lebanon. They're dominant in Lebanon, with Hezbollah. They're dominant in Syria, backing the Assad regime. They now have a foothold in Yemen. They're one of the leading patrons of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And I think the president and Secretary Kerry, they think somehow that we can have a collaborative relation with Iran, that we can potentially strike a nuclear deal. That is a fool's errand as far as I'm concerned.

And it's dangerous both because it can lead to Iran getting a nuclear weapon but it's also dangerous because it alienates the Sunni Arabs in the region, and so if their choice is between Shiite-backed government that the United States appears to support, or terrorist groups, well, they're more apt to side with a Sunni, Islamic terrorist group, than if they don't think there is a chance for a middle way.

TANTAROS: Congressman, I only have a couple seconds left. Quickly tell me, I know Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to speak in the House of Representatives in march now, what have you been hearing about by your constituents? We know the White House isn't happy about this. But I think it's a good thing, because I think we need to have a big stick. I think the president needs a big stick, even though Joe Biden says he has one. I think this is good to have Netanyahu there, because it shows the Iranians, look, if you falter, if this falters this is whose side we are on. Quick feedback on what you are hearing.

DESANTIS: Yeah, 100 percent agreement. My constituents support Israel. I think we need to stand with Israel. And the president is outside of the mainstream on this issue, not just with Republicans but with Democrats as well.

TANTAROS: Yeah, I think that's a great point.

Representative, thanks so much.

DESANTIS: Thank you.