Saudi suspends embassy work in Yemen

The kingdom is the first Arab country to evacuate embassy staff from Sanaa

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Saudi Arabia, Germany and Italy have suspended operations and evacuated diplomatic staff at their embassies in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday.

“As result of deterioration in security and political conditions in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the kingdom has suspended all embassy operations in Sanaa and evacuated its entire staff, who arrived safely in the kingdom,” State news agency SPA quoted a foreign ministry source as saying.

The kingdom is the first Arab country to evacuate embassy staff from Sanaa, after several Western governments, including the United States, shut their missions this week.

Meanwhile Germany and Italy are following suit and have pulled their staff from their embassies too.

"The situation is anything but stable,” said a German foreign ministry spokeswoman, calling the ouster of the government by Shiite militiamen known as Huthis “unacceptable, dangerous and with consequences for the region.”

“We decided yesterday to temporarily close the embassy in Sanaa and the personnel departed the country early this morning,” she said.

The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement that “we hope mediation efforts led by the U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar will create security conditions allowing a return of diplomatic personnel to Yemen as soon as possible.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Thursday that Yemen was on the brink of collapse, as he appealed for action to stop the country's slide toward anarchy.

“Yemen is collapsing before our eyes, we can't stand by and watch,” Ban told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. “We must do everything possible to help Yemen step back from the brink and get the political process back on track.”

On Wednesday the United Nations' special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, warned in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel and its sister channel al-Hadath that the country was on the brink of civil war and accused all sides of contributing to the political and economic turmoil.

"We believe the situation is very dangerous. Yemen is on the brink of civil war," Benomar said.

The situation in Yemen took a dramatic turn last week when the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels – also referred to as Ansar Allah – formally took charge wth a series of constitutional declarations.

One of the decrees mandated the establishment of a transitional national council that would replace Yemen's parliament.

Another decree urged the establishment of a five-member presidential council, to be elected by transitional national assembly.

Other announcements called for amending the draft constitution before putting it to a national vote , setting a time frame of two years for the transitional phase, and forming a “supreme revolutionary committee” to administer provincial affairs.

The decrees have been met with resistance from a number of factions in Yemen and dismissed as illegitimate but some international powers such the European Union.

The European bloc issued a statement on Monday saying that is “gravely concerned by the unilateral so-called Constitutional declaration issued by Ansar Allah on 6 February, which it considers to have no legitimacy.”

The EU statement said an initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council remains a reference for the solution to the crisis in the country.

[With AFP]