US reduces staff at embassy in Yemen amid deepening crisis

January 23, 2015 03:12

WASHINGTON - The United States has pulled more staff out of its embassy in Yemen, US officials said on Thursday as Washington scrambled to cope with the collapse of a government that had been a key ally in the fight against al-Qaida.

The officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the US diplomatic contingent in the Yemeni capital Sanaa has been drawn down due to the deteriorating security situation there but that there were no plans to close the embassy.

US authorities have privately made clear they want the compound, an important outpost for counter-terrorism cooperation with Yemeni forces, to remain open as a demonstration of American resolve.

But current and former US officials say the chaos engulfing Yemen has already threatened the administration's strategy against a powerful al-Qaida branch there. Just four months ago, Obama had touted Yemen as a model for "successful" counter-terrorism partnerships worldwide.

Word of the withdrawal of further US personnel came on the same day that Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi stepped down, throwing the country deeper into chaos days after Iran-backed Houthi rebels battled their way into his presidential palace.

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