U.S. reopens embassy in Yemen

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen reopens after closing for two days over threats of an imminent al-Qaeda attack in the country's capital.

Mideast country's government seeks aid from international community

Yemeni soldiers patrol near the main entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the capital San'a in September. The embassy reopened Tuesday. ((Nasser Nasser/Associated Press))
The U.S. Embassy in Yemen reopened Tuesday after closing for two days over threats of an imminent al-Qaeda attack in the country’s capital.

The embassy website said "successful counter-terrorism operations" conducted by the Yemen government have "addressed a specific area of concern" that contributed to the decision to resume operations. 

The statement did not provide more details but thanked the government for its efforts to disrupt al-Qaeda in the region.

It said the threat of terrorist attacks against American interests remains high and warned U.S. citizens in the country to be vigilant.

The British Embassy, which also closed on Sunday, said it had reopened on an operational basis but was still closed to the public as were the French and Czech embassies. The Spanish and German embassies were restricting the number of visitors.

On Tuesday, Yemen's Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the situation was under control.

"There is nothing to fear from any threats of terror attack," the ministry said. "Security is good in the capital and the provinces, and there is no fear for the lives of any foreigner or foreign embassy."

The U.S. Embassy closure was prompted by "credible information that pointed to the likelihood of imminent terrorist attacks," its website said.

Militants killed

On Monday, two al-Qaeda militants were reported killed by security forces in Yemen although officials said the raid was not linked to threats that prompted the embassies' closure.

A Yemeni soldier stands guard near vehicles damaged in an al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, on Sept. 18, 2008.

Although the government of impoverished Yemen is weak outside of the capital, it has staged several recent raids against militants who have set up strongholds in the country. The U.S. has backed the raids.

U.S. and U.K. counterterrorism support in Yemen has gone up quickly, as special units are funded and trained to fight al-Qaeda.

U.S. President Barack Obama said an al-Qaeda-related group in Yemen was behind a failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. passenger jet flying from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The Pentagon recently said it has poured nearly $70 million in military aid into Yemen in 2009 after giving the country none in the previous year.

Yemen seeking aid for terror fight

Yemen's ambassador to Canada, Khaled Bahah, told CBC last week Yemen needed both financial assistance and hands-on training from countries with experience fighting al-Qaeda.

Canadian aid to Yemen has not been significant, with the Canadian International Development Agency last disbursing $3.12 million in 2007-08 for various projects. In February 2009, the federal agency further tightened its belt, announcing it would focus its efforts on aid to 20 regions, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sudan and the West Bank and Gaza, but not Yemen.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan also said last week that sharing intelligence with foreign agencies is a sensitive issue. Public inquiries such as the one involving the case of Maher Arar have placed limitations on what Canada shares with international partners, he said.

The 2006 inquiry into the Arar case found the U.S. likely sent the Canadian engineer to Syria to be tortured based on an incorrect tip from Canada that he had ties to Islamic extremists. The government awarded Arar a $10.5-million settlement.

With files from The Associated Press