x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Yemen embassies reopen

The American, British and French embassies in Yemen reopen after a raid that killed two al Qa'eda militants addressed specific security concerns.

SANA'A // The American embassy in Yemen reopened today after a raid near Sana'a that killed two al Qa'eda militants addressed specific security concerns that had forced US and European missions to close, the embassy said. Violence flared in the Yemen-Saudi border area, where Shiite rebels waging a revolt against the central government said a barrage of Saudi air strikes on a market had flattened shops and homes, killing two people and wounding three more.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, was thrust into the foreground of the US-led war against militants after a Yemen-based wing of al Qa'eda said it was behind a Christmas Day bomb attempt on a US-bound plane. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said fighting in Yemen was a threat to regional and global stability. "Successful counter-terrorism operations conducted by Government of Yemen security forces...north of the capital have addressed a specific area of concern, and have contributed to the embassy's decision to resume operations," the US embassy said in a statement.

It said the embassy, a fortified structure with big concrete slabs to guard against attacks, reopened after a two-day closure prompted by credible information pointing to the "likelihood of imminent terrorist attacks in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a". Placed strategically on the Arabian Peninsula's southern rim, Yemen is trying to fight a threat from resurgent al Qa'eda fighters while a Shiite revolt rages in the north and separatist sentiment simmers in the south.

The West and Saudi Arabia fear al Qa'eda will take advantage of Yemen's instability to spread its operations to the neighbouring kingdom, the world's biggest oil exporter, and beyond. Yemen itself produces a small amount of oil. The British and French embassies also resumed operations today but remained closed to the public, diplomats at those missions said. Yemeni forces yesterday killed at least two al Qa'eda militants they said were behind the threat that forced the foreign embassies to close, and president Ali Abdullah Saleh said Yemen was "ready to confront and defeat anyone thinking of harming the country and its security".

* Reuters