The PJ Tatler

U.S. Embassy in Sana'a Stays Open, But Urges Citizens to 'Depart Immediately'

The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a urged U.S. citizens to leave Yemen “immediately” as it will be unable to provide regular consular services.

“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,” read the emergency message to U.S. citizens.

“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,” the State Department continued.

“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.”

The Embassy has pulled some non-esssential staff, but not completely closed the installation. The White House said Friday that it was “determined that there is not a need to change the posture at the U.S. embassy.”

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters today that the Obama administration’s anti-terror operations will continue in Yemen despite a lack of a functioning government to work with.

“We’ve made clear that we’ll take direct action inside of Yemen against AQAP targets. That’s something we’ve done in the past. I’d anticipate us doing that in future. And we’ve done so in coordination with Yemen,” Rhodes said. “…We have significant ability to develop intelligence and to try to track down terrorist targets that has built up for many years, and that, yes, draws on cooperation with Yemen and also our own intelligence assets.”

“What I would also indicate is that we continue to have a broader relationship in Yemen that includes the security forces who we’ve collaborated with in the past, as well as the political leadership. And I think what we want to see going forward is a political process that can restore stability. And again, the United States is well acquainted with many of the different actors inside of Yemen. And we’re confident that if we can get the relevant factions in Yemen into a discussion about restoring stability and a political process, that we’ll be able to maintain the type of cooperation we’ve had with Yemen and its security forces in recent years.”