The US embassy in Yemen published a statement Saturday announcing that all consular services will be suspended “through September 29”, as violent anti-American protests threaten to spillover from neighboring Egypt and Libya, AFP reports.
Protesters clashed with security forces after attempting to storm the embassy grounds on Thursday, killing four people. The embassy warned citizens that security threats “remain critical”. A travel warning to Yemen was renewed while Americans were urged to leave the country. The US deployed a Marines anti-terrorism unit to Yemen to secure the embassy, a response which was condemned by the Yemeni parliament.
This comes as a vicious circle of protests spring up in Arab and Muslim countries over a controversial film purportedly produced in the US. The 13-minute trailer of the film “Innocence of Muslims”, deemed critical to the Prophet Mohammed by Islamic extremists, went viral on YouTube early July and ignited violent protests in Egypt and Libya. The US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi came under fire with rocket-propelled grenades, killing Chris Stevens, the first US ambassador to be killed abroad in more than 30 years, Financial Times reports.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking of the incident, told FT, “Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”. The US played a key role in ousting longtime dictator Muammer Gaddafi.