News Column

US Embassies Across the Region to Reopen

Aug. 13, 2013

The US has decided to reopen 18 of its 19 diplomatic missions across the Middle East that were recently closed over security reasons, including the US embassy in Amman, the US State Department said Sunday.

The US embassy in Amman has been closed for just over a week due to security concerns and the Eid Al Fitr holiday, an embassy official told The Jordan Times.

The State Department earlier this month warned of "unspecified plans by Al Qaeda network to launch an attack against US interests in the Middle East or North Africa", AFP reported.

US officials speaking on condition of anonymity told The New York Times last week that the warning was issued following the interception of electronic communications between senior Al Qaeda operatives.

The communications of Al Qaeda operatives, believed to be based in the Arabian Peninsula, discussed attacks on US and Western interests in the Muslim world in detail, according to AFP.

Last week, US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the decision to close the 19 diplomatic missions was in line with the US being "abundantly cautious" over the safety of embassy employees.

The US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed and there are no immediate plans to reopen the US consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, which closed Thursday because of what officials called a "separate credible threat", according to AFP.

"We will continue to evaluate the threats to Sanaa and Lahore and make subsequent decisions about the reopening of those facilities based on that information," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Sunday.

"We will also continue to evaluate information about these and all of our posts and to take appropriate steps to best protect the safety of our personnel, American citizens travelling overseas and visitors to our facilities," she added.

The majority of US employees working in Sanaa's embassy were ordered to leave the country on Tuesday.

On Thursday, at least 14 militants linked to Al Qaeda -- including seven Saudi citizens, according to AFP -- were killed in Yemen in three US drone strikes, Yemeni officials said Friday.

Source: (c)2013 Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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