The U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital city has closed to the public amid deepening instability in the country, the U.S. Department of State announced Monday.
The State Department cited “ongoing security concerns” as the reason for the Sanaa embassy closure after the resignation of the Yemeni president, prime minister and Cabinet.
“The U.S. Embassy will be closed to the public until further notice out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting the embassy,” the statement said. “We are continuously analyzing the security conditions and will resume consular operations as soon as our analysis indicates we are able to do so safely.”
Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and his cabinet resigned last week after Houthi rebels had surrounded the presidential palace and residence, and days of clashes ensued. Hadi has been backed by the U.S. and much of the international community in his plans to bring democracy to the country.
Over the weekend, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa and other cities to protest the rebel takeover. Some demonstrators carried anti-Houthi signs and demanded the return of the president.
The Houthis captured the capital city in September and appear to have the upper hand in Yemen. They had initially won support in the country because of promises to crack down on corruption and improve the standard of living. Houthis are mostly adherents of a Shiite Muslim sect that accounts for about a third of Yemen’s population. They are enemies of al-Qaida, but hostile to U.S. and Saudi interference in Yemeni affairs.
The State Department continues to warn of a high security threat throughout the country because of terrorist activities and civil unrest. U.S. citizens have been urged not to travel to Yemen and those still in the country have been asked to leave.
There are no plans for U.S. government-sponsored evacuations.
(Times staff writer Patrick J. McDonnell and special correspondent Zaid Al-Alayaa contributed to this report.)
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