U.S. closing embassy in Yemen amid turmoil

Yemeni protesters climb the gate of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (Reuters)

The United States is closing its embassy in Yemen to the public until further notice amid political turmoil after the government resigned under pressure from the Houthi rebel movement.

The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting the embassy,” a statement issued by the embassy said.

Earlier, U.S. officials said they had reduced staff at the embassy, which is in the capital Sanaa.

Last week, the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi collapsed after it was confronted by the Iranian-allied armed Houthis. This deprived Washington of a staunch ally in its campaign against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The situation on the ground has remained fluid and chaotic, other U.S. officials have said.

The White House has said it is committed to continuing its close cooperation with Yemen against the virulent al Qaeda group and at least some operations appeared to be continuing.

Local officials said a suspected U.S. drone had attacked a car in Yemen’s eastern Marib province on Monday, killing three suspected al Qaeda militants.

One U.S. security official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters in Washington the most likely reason the Embassy was closed to the public was that it was surrounded by “chaos.”

In its statement, the U.S. embassy said it was “unable to provide routine consular services and will have very limited ability to assist with emergency cases involving U.S. citizens” given the government resignations and “the ongoing security concerns.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:54 - GMT 10:54