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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora