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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 10:25 AM | 11-02-2015

US closing embassy in Yemen amid security concerns

The United States will close its embassy in Yemen amid mounting concerns over deteriorating security in the country’s capital, where Shiite rebels have seized control of the government and ousted a critical US counter-terrorism ally.

The State Department said late on Tuesday (10 Feb 2015) the decision was made “due to the uncertain security situation in Sanaa,” the Yemeni capital. It said that embassy operations and staff had been “temporarily relocated” and that “we will explore options for a return … when the situation on the ground improves.”

The British Embassy in Yemen’s capital closed early on Wednesday (11 Feb 2015) and its staff evacuated, the Associated Press reported.

A senior US official said the State Department had formed a task force to oversee the departures of dozens of diplomatic officials from the embassy compound, which has also served as a base for the CIA and other US spy agencies involved in operations against a dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate.

The embassy closure comes as the leader of the Houthi rebel movement denounced foreign governments’ plans to withdraw their diplomats and declared that the group would not be deterred from expanding its authority over the fractured country.

“We will not accept pressures. They are of no use,” Abdulmalik al-Houthi said during a speech broadcast on Yemeni television, according to published reports. Although he did not single out the United States, he said that those who harm “the interests of this country could see that their interests are also harmed.”

The threat underscored the stakes for the United States, which has relied extensively on cooperation from Yemen’s government in counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — a group linked to bomb plots against the United States and a recent attack in Paris that targeted journalists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

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