US Pulls Diplomats Out of Yemen

Obama renews calls for Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2011 7:34 AM CDT
Smoke ascends in the vicinity of the Interior Ministry Building in Sanaa, May 25, 2011, as clashes between forces loyal to tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar and President Ali Abdullah Saleh rages on.   (Getty Images/AFP)

(Newser) – With the situation in Yemen deteriorating rapidly, the US yesterday ordered all nonessential diplomats and the families of all US Embassy staff to leave the country. "The security threat in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activity and civil unrest," the State Department writes in a new advisory, saying that the violent clashes ripping through Sanaa "may escalate without notice." Over the weekend, army helicopters had to evacuate diplomats from the US and elsewhere from an embassy under siege by supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The move comes after Saleh's refusal to follow through on a deal to step down, the AP reports. President Obama called on Saleh to "move immediately" to sign the deal yesterday, but Saleh released a statement vowing, "I will not leave power and I will not leave Yemen," adding, "I don't take orders from outside."

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