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United States closing embassy in Yemen amid unrest

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The United States is closing its embassy in Yemen amid political deadlock and deteriorating security conditions after the takeover of the country by Shiite rebels, two United States (US) officials said.

The officials said that diplomats were being evacuated from the country yesterday and that the embassy in Sanaa would suspend operations until conditions improve. Yemen has been in crisis for months with Iran-linked Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the capital and then taking control. The US officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the closure publicly on the record.

Marines providing the security at the embassy will also likely leave, officials said, but American forces conducting counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate in other parts of the country would not be affected.

Spokesmen at the White House, Pentagon and State Department had no immediate comment on the closure.

Although operations against al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate will continue, the closure of the embassy will be seen as a blow to the Obama administration, which has held up its partnership with ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government as a model for his strategy in combatting terrorism, particularly in unstable countries.

"Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or an island of stability," President Barack Obama said late last month as conditions in the capital of Sanaa became worse. "What I've said is, is that our efforts to go after terrorist networks inside of Yemen without a occupying US army, but rather by partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government, is the approach that we're going to need to take."