OP-ED

Terrorist Threats Close Foreign Embassies

National Yemen

Terrorist Threats Close Foreign Embassies

France has closed its embassy in Yemen for several days beginning Sunday 4 August, and it has further urged its citizens in the country to take precautions in light of elevated security threats.

The French embassy has followed in the footsteps of the American, British and German embassies, which have announced complete, temporary closures of their embassies in Sana’a due to reports of security threats. A source informed National Yemen that the French embassy was in contact with the American and European embassies prior to the closings on the development of Yemen’s security situation. Following the US decision, the German embassy decided to remain closed in Yemen on Sunday and Monday also for security reasons, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The move followed a similar announcement from Britain as well as a US decision to temporarily close two dozen embassies in other Middle Eastern countries over fears of an al-Qaeda attack.  American citizens residing in Sana’a received an emergency message from their embassy on August first, notifying them of the embassy’s intended closure on the fourth and fifth.  The message also advised US residents to “avoid areas where large gatherings may occur,” along with any protests or demonstrations.  Citizens were instructed to “review [their] security plans and maintain a high level of vigilance.”

The message shared some similar content to a travel alert sent to all American citizens currently registered as living or traveling abroad, notifying them of a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the Middle East and North Africa. The alert is set to “expire” on August 31.

In a statement from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), British citizens were advised against all travel to Yemen. British nationals were likewise strongly urged to leave the country. The statement noted that if citizens failed to leave the country now, while commercial carriers are still flying, it would be unlikely that the British government would be able to evacuate said citizens or provide consular assistance.

The situation in Yemen remains volatile with continuing unrest and violent clashes between rival groups. The threat of an escalation of violence and disorder remains. The UK government has warned its citizens that if they travel to Yemen against government advice, they should regularly reassess their security and plan any movements around the country carefully. The provision of close security protection and/or a military escort is extremely important for those working and moving around in Yemen.

There is a high threat of terrorism throughout Yemen. Terrorists continue to threaten further attacks. There is a similarly high threat of kidnapping by armed tribes, criminals and terrorists. All persons should be particularly vigilant during Ramadan, when tensions may be heightened.