The White House’s strategy for fighting al-Qaida in Yemen — repeatedly presented as a model by President Barack Obama — was left in tatters Thursday by the resignation of the man who personally approved U.S. drone strikes in the country and the collapse of its central government.

U.S. officials struggled to sort out a melange of reports about who, if anyone, is in charge in Yemen. The prospect of continued chaos cast doubt on the viability of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policy for Yemen and whether it can still count on local help against al-Qaida.

“A dangerous situation just went from bad to worse with grave implications for our counterterrorism efforts,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “Our relationship with the Yemen government has been vital in confronting [al-Qaida] and keeping the pressure on its leadership, and every effort must be made to continue that partnership.” […]