The German embassy, closed today. Anonymous author.
Western embassies are closing one after another in Sanaa following threats from a local branch of al Qaeda. One expat who lives in the capital tells us how she's been told to "keep a low profile".
Yemen is the poorest state in the Arabian Peninsula. The country has been dealing with a Shiite rebellion in the north and a separatist movement in the south for several years now. But it's only since the country's local al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the failed Flight 253 attack on Dec. 25 that Western powers have appeared concerned.
After receiving direct threats, both the US and the UK embassies closed their doors in Sanaa on Sunday. On Monday, the German and French embassies followed suit. Police roadblocks have been set up around the airport, while the army is leading an operation in the north of the country against alleged members of al Qaeda, so far killing claiming to have killed ten of the militants.
According to the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, the country could be harbouring up to 300 al Qaeda members.
“Soldiers blocked the roads and stopped residents from getting through”
Laurence Martin (not her real name) is a French expat who's been living in Sanaa for two years.
I live close to the German and French embassies. This morning we received a press release [from the French embassy] stating that it would be closed to the public. Afterwards soldiers blocked the roads and stopped residents from getting through. The French embassy asked us to keep a low profile and avoid going to hotels frequented by Americans as well as the ‘British Club' [private members' club], where most of the British spend their time.
The UK and US embassies are in a rather isolated part of town. They've been closed for two days now but were under constant surveillance before that anyway, since the attack against the US embassy in Sept. 2008.
When I got here in 2007, expats were free to move around as they wished. We used to go on excursions around the country. But after the 2008 attack, only big companies still offered such trips, and they were under armed escort.
It's no secret that al Qaeda have been here for years. But nobody seemed to take them seriously until the failed Christmas Day attack. Since then, the media have started to take an interest in Yemen. Let's hope they catch on to other problems we have here, like the rebellion in the north.
There's no trouble between Yemenis and western expats here. I can walk around Sanaa wearing no veil without the slightest of problems."