The US Department of Defense has announced that it will continue its anti-terrorist operations in Yemen “unilaterally” despite the fall of the US-backed government in Sanaa and its takeover by the Houthi rebels close to Iran.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stressed that US military operations would continue despite the chaos created by the fall of Abdo Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government and the coming to power of Shia rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houth.
Kirby said that US military personnel will continue training the Yemeni security forces and are capable of carrying out anti-terrorism operations in Yemen, unilaterally if need be.
However, he also accepted that the anti-terrorist strategies need to be modified.
The US embassy in Saana has been closed although so far there has been no official confirmation from the State Department, diplomatic sources in Yemen told Efe news agency.
Britain has decided, as well, to temporarily close its embassy in Yemen for security reasons, and also withdraw its diplomatic personnel from capital city of Sanaa, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“The security situation in Yemen has continued to deteriorate over recent days. Regrettably we now judge that our Embassy staff and premises are at increased risk,” said Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood.
The Pentagon spokesperson admitted that the political instability in the country has affected US counter-terrorist capabilities but said that the US still maintained Special Forces in Yemen and was in contact with Yemen security officials.
“We know that there is a relationship between the Houthis and Tehran, and we’ve been very clear on multiple occasions about our concerns about the tentacles that Iran has throughout the region, specifically with support to groups and organisations that aren’t doing anything to increase stability in the region,” said Kirby.
The US has long maintained an important military presence in Yemen and has carried out numerous controversial operations against the Al Qaeda terror group which has been criticised for causing civilian deaths.
Moreover, the US-backed Yemeni government was one of the most important recipients of US military aid and is a base for strategic operations in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and East Africa.