News / Middle East

Western Missions in Yemen on Alert as Army Moves Against al-Qaida

U.S. Marines on the Sheraton Sanaa Hotel where U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers stay, Sanaa, May 8, 2014.
U.S. Marines on the Sheraton Sanaa Hotel where U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers stay, Sanaa, May 8, 2014.
Reuters
Western embassies in Yemen heightened security measures on Thursday after increasingly bold attacks on foreigners by al-Qaida, even as the militant Islamists lost ground to an army offensive in the south.

The government's offensive is the most concerted campaign against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — seen by Washington as one of the group's most lethal wings — in nearly two years. The group has been blamed for deadly attacks against security forces, foreigners and oil and gas facilities.

Yemen has said its forces captured Azzan, the last major militant bastion they have been targeting in an offensive that began 10 days ago. Washington is keen to prevent any spillover of violence into neighboring oil power Saudi Arabia and to stop Yemen being used as a springboard to attack Western targets.

On Wednesday the United States announced a suspension of operations at its embassy. The European Union said on Thursday it had limited its presence in Yemen to essential staff, while France ordered its diplomats to restrict their movement. 

“Like other diplomatic and international actors in Sanaa, we are limiting the presence to essential staff and reviewing our security measures,” said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

A spokeswoman for France's Foreign Ministry said its security alertness in Yemen was at maximum level but said the embassy remained open. On Monday, a French security agent was killed in Sanaa.

Britain's Foreign Office issued a new travel alert on Thursday, advising against all travel to Yemen and strongly urging British nationals to leave the Arabian Peninsula state.

The International Committee for the Red Cross, whose staff have been kidnapped and shot in recent years in Yemen, said it was reducing its exposure in Sanaa, where it described the security conditions as “extremely worrying, unpredictable.”

“There are no private movements within the country except when people go to the airport for their [breaks],” Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations for the Near and Middle East, told Reuters in Geneva.

Last stronghold

Yemen scored a win against al-Qaida on Wednesday when special forces killed a militant suspected of masterminding attacks on Westerners, including the French agent on Monday.

Government troops captured the mountainous al-Mahfad area in Abyan province earlier this week, leaving Azzan in Shabwa province as the militants' main redoubt.

“An official military source in the third military region said that units of the armed forces and the security have entered ... Azzan,” a statement on the Defense Ministry's website said. It also said security forces had killed a militant called Abu Musaab al-Kuwaiti.

The Yemeni defense minister told a crowd celebrating the capture of Azzan that the army's offensive against AQAP would continue, the state news agency Saba said.

Azzan, with a population of about 50,000, and some other towns in the south were declared Islamic emirates in 2011 by Ansar al-Sharia, an AQAP affiliate.

The army drove them out in 2012 but the militants have since rebuilt their presence, exploiting the Sanaa central government's traditionally weak hold over the region.

“We hope that the entrance of the army and the return of state authority to Azzan and other areas will be the end of the worry and turmoil that we've been living with for years,” Azzan resident Mubarak Mahdi said.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid