UK, France also close their Yemen embassies

THE United States, Britain and France said yesterday they were closing their embassies in Yemen amid the turmoil in the wake of the Shiite rebels’ takeover of the country.
The closures, which came as Yemen marked four years since the start of its own uprising that eventually ousted its longtime ruler, were an ominous sign for the faltering United Nations-brokered negotiations between the Houthi rebels and their political rivals.
The country has been in crisis for months, with the Iran-linked Houthis besieging the capital, Sanaa, and then taking control. In January, the rebels put President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and all his Cabinet ministers under house arrest, leading to their resignations. Subsequently, the Houthis — who are followers of the Shiite Zaydi sect in the Sunni-majority Yemen — dissolved parliament and declared they were taking over the government.
On Tuesday, the US State Department said it had suspended operations at its embassy in Sanaa and relocated remaining diplomatic personnel “due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation.”
Also yesterday, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood urged British citizens still in Yemen to “leave immediately” as his country’s embassy evacuated its staff. The French Embassy said it will close tomorrow.
“The situation in Yemen has continued to deteriorate over recent days. Regrettably, we now judge that our embassy staff and premises are at increased risk,” Ellwood said.
Germany urged its citizens to leave Yemen, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said yesterday.

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