Feinstein: Evacuate Yemen Embassy Now
The U.S. government should immediately close and evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
I asked her today whether the embassy, which remains open despite raging violence throughout the Yemeni capital, should be closed. She responded: “Based on what I know so far, yes.”
“I’m very concerned about our embassy there, who is still there, who isn’t still there, and what the plans are,” Feinstein added.
White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said today on MSNBC that no decisions have been made on whether to close the embassy. A car carrying U.S. diplomatic personnel was fired on in Sana'a in a neighborhood away from the embassy. Houthi rebels, who control the much of the capital, have now reportedly taken over the presidential palace.
CNN reported today that the Pentagon has moved two warships, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima and the dock landing craft Fort McHenry, into the area pre-emptively in case a request for an evacuation is made. So far, the State Department has not asked the military for assistance.
Feinstein warned that even if the current crisis is defused, the challenge of bringing stability to Yemen will require a long-term commitment and strategy by the U.S. and several international partners.
“In general, we need to really bring together our allies into a concerted coalition to really share information and really be able to put plans together and have other nations participate on an ongoing basis,” she said. “We are really in this for the long haul. It’s not going to stop this year or next year, maybe not even this decade."
Yemen is also the home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery story in Paris this month. In a speech last September, President Obama praised U.S. counterterrorism policy in Yemen, which is based on providing military assistance to the government and conducting targeted strikes against terrorists on the ground.
“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” he said.
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