Still more embassies close in Yemen

Abu Dhabi – The United Arab Emirates and Spain said on Saturday they had suspended operations at their embassies in Yemen following a Shi’ite militia takeover that has prompted an exodus of foreign diplomats.


People, some holding weapons, gather outside the camp of the 19th Infantry Brigade after it was seized by al-Qaeda fighters in Baihan, in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province. (STR, AFP)

The Huthi militiamen dissolved Yemen’s government and parliament on 6 February after seizing the presidential palace and key government buildings, sparking growing security concerns.

The UAE foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency that it “has suspended embassy operations in the Yemeni capital Sanaa and evacuated all staff.

“This decision comes in light of the increasingly deteriorating political and security situation” and the “unfortunate events with the Huthis undermining legitimate authority in the country,” it said.

The move came a day after Sunni-dominated regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia announced it had also evacuated all its staff from the embassy in Sanaa.

The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands have also closed their embassies in Yemen and pulled out staff because of security fears.

Spain said it was suspending embassy activity in Yemen “in light of the current situation of insecurity and instability in Sana’a”.

Leave Yemen

“Spain trusts that the causes of this decision will be resolved shortly and that the embassy can soon resume its duties normally,” the foreign ministry said.

“The government reiterates its support for a process of democratic transition in Yemen that leads to the forming of an inclusive government that can meet the desires for freedom, democracy and prosperity of the Yemeni people.”

It said that the embassy had contacted all members of the “small Spanish community in Yemen” and advised them to “temporarily” leave the Arabian Peninsula country.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this week that Yemen was “collapsing before our eyes” and called for Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to be restored to power.

Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council were to meet later on Saturday in Riyadh for expected talks on the Yemen crisis.

Last week the GCC denounced the action by the Huthis – who are accused of receiving backing from Shiite-dominated Iran – as a coup.