US closes Yemen embassy and orders ambassador to leave

White House says its ambassador in Sanaa will leave the country by Wednesday as it orders the closure of its embassy.

Riot police standing outside the US embassy in Yemen

The United States has ordered the closure of its embassy in Yemen, and said its ambassador will leave the country by Wednesday amid the deteriorating security situation.

US officials said on Tuesday they were suspending operations at the embassy in Sanaa until conditions improved.

“The ambassador and the rest of the staff will leave by Wednesday evening,” an employee, who asked not to be named, told the Reuters news agency.

The embassy has been closed since January and has been operating with only a small portion of its usual diplomatic staff for all but emergency services.

According to Reuters, the US is expected to ask either Turkey or Algeria to look after its interests in Yemen while the embassy is closed.

Yemen has been plagued by crisis since Houthi fighters forcefully took power on Friday, in a move denounced by the international community as a coup.

The Houthis dissolved parliament and installed Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of Abdel-Malik al-Houthi as the new president, replacing the ousted Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Speaking on Tuesday, al-Houthi accused Hadi’s government of “being corrupt”, and of “failing to achieve aspiration of the Yemeni people”.

Addressing his political adversaries, Houthi proposed what he called “a partnership” under the “constitutional declaration” by which the group seized power.

Under the declaration, the Houthis dissolved parliament and announced the formation of a transitional “presidential council” which would act as a government for an interim period of two years.

He took particular aim at his political rivals, the Islah party, urging it to give up an ideology “that excludes the other”.

On Monday, the country’s rival political factions resumed UN-brokered talks aimed at ending the crisis.

Jamal Benomar, the UN envoy to Yemen, hailed the resumption of talks but urged political leaders to “take up their responsibilities and achieve consensus” as he battles for a negotiated solution.

The Houthis, who are accused of being backed by Iran, have vowed to defend their takeover, calling it a “glorious revolution” that has “broken the shackles of injustice and corruption”.

The group belongs to the country’s Zaidi Shia community who make up a fifth of Yemen’s 25 million population.

Source: News Agencies