10 Aug 2013

Al-Qaeda threat: US to reopen embassies

Eighteen of the 19 United States embassies closed across the Middle East due to fears of a potential terrorist attack will reopen on Sunday, the US State Department said on Friday.

US embassies in the Middle East and Africa to reopen (picture: Reuters)

The United States closed embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa a week ago because of “increased terrorist chatter”. Embassy staff were evacuated from Yemen because of the threat.

On Sunday, however, 18 of the closed embassies will re-open. The main exception is the embassy in Yemen (pictured, above).

“Our embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Staff were also withdrawn from the British embassy in Yemen, and will return when it is deemed to be safe to do so.

‘Credible threat’

The reopening US posts are in Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Libya, Madagascar, Burundi, Djibouti, Sudan, Rwanda, Mauritius, as well as three in Saudi Arabia and two in the United Arab Emirates.

Another post which will remain closed is the US consulate in Pakistan, due to a “separate credible threat”.

The Yemeni government said on Wednesday that it had foiled an al-Qaeda plot to take over a provincial capital, and oil and gas export facilities.

On the same day a US drone strike was reported to have killed four al-Qaeda militants. On Thursday a further six militants were said to have been killed in Yemen in a drone strike, and on Friday night it was reported that another drone attack had killed five suspected al-Qaeda militants.

The attacks mark an increase in the use of drone strikes in the Yemen. The country has been less commonly targeted by the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes than Pakistan, where thousands, including civilians and children, have been killed.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 269 and 393 people have been killed in confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen, between 23 and 48 of whom were civilians and between six and nine were children.