- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yemen on Tuesday slammed the decision by the U.S. and its allies to close their embassies and withdraw diplomatic staff, saying such action plays into the hands of extremists.

“The evacuation of embassy staff serves the interests of the extremists,” the Yemeni government said, adding that it “undermines the exceptional cooperation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism.”

No reaction was immediately available from the State Department.

The U.S. announced the temporary closure of its embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, last week, along with a raft of other diplomatic posts across the Arab world. Over the weekend, most of those U.S. closures were extended through the week, and the British, Dutch, French, and German embassies in Sana’a also were closed.

The British government urged all of its citizens to leave Yemen on Monday, and the U.S. followed suit on Tuesday. Both countries evacuated all nonessential diplomatic staff on Tuesday.

The security measures came in response to intelligence warnings about an attack on Western interests planned by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

While the government’s hold on many parts of the country is tenuous to say the least, security has been relatively good in the capital since the February 2012 ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh, officials say.

Yemen has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of foreign missions in the capital Sana’a,” the Yemeni government said.

U.S. Embassy staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Western officials in the country, in addition to their diplomatic and consular duties, are deeply involved in reconciliation and development work in the desperately poor and fractious nation.

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