Political Analysis

U.S. Embassy in Yemen Closed, But Not Evacuated, Officials Say

National Yemen

By NY Staff

U.S. officials said Monday they have no plans to evacuate the American embassy in Yemen, although it was closed to the public as “a prudent precaution” given political turmoil and security concerns in that country. Senior officials also confirmed that an American drone strike in Yemen had killed three suspected members of al Qaeda on Monday. One official said the strike showed that the U.S. has the capability to launch airstrikes against al Qaeda in Yemen despite the recent chaos,

Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has indicated that the U.S. and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who seized the capital last week are sharing intelligence regarding their common foe: al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula. Vickers told the Atlantic Council last week “it’s a “safe assumption” the two are still cooperating. One senior official pointed out that while the Yemeni government under the former regime supported U.S. counter-terror operations, it had no control over U.S. drone strikes. “We still have the capability and commitment to launch strikes when needed,” the official said.

Meanwhile, more than 200 U.S. personnel remain on duty at the embassy in Sanaa. Since the Yemeni government was driven from power, “a handful” of Americans have left Yemen aboard commercial airliners which are still operating into and out of Sanaa, officials said.

Due to that, the American embassy in Sana’a issued published comprehensive information for the American citizens in Yemen.

Due to ongoing security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa is unable to provide routine consular services but remains open and operational and is providing emergency services. We are continuously analyzing the security conditions and will resume regular consular operations as soon as possible.

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens still in Yemen should make plans to depart immediately. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Yemen are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Travelers should reconfirm flight schedules with their airline prior to going to the airport. Flight cancellations occur frequently. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-coordinated evacuations.

U.S. citizens in Yemen remain vulnerable to kidnappings and terrorist attacks, especially when in transit to and from residences or workplaces. U.S. citizens should exercise caution and take prudent security measures in all areas, especially those areas frequented by Westerners. All U.S. citizens are reminded to vary their routes and times for all travel, maintain a high level of vigilance, keep a low profile, lock car windows and doors, carry a cell phone at all times, and report suspicious incidents to the Embassy.

Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Yemen enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website where the current Worldwide CautionTravel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Yemen can be found. Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review the Traveler’s Checklist which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

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