The United States has told its citizens in Yemen to leave and has ordered the evacuation of non-essential government staff.
Washington issued a worldwide travel alert just days ago, leading to the closure of several Western embassies in Yemen and US missions across the Middle East and Africa.
The US is fearful of attacks in the region, based on intercepted communication between al-Qaeda leaders.
Charles Allen, a former Central Intelligence Agency Assistant Director, told euronews: “I worry about the US private sector as well as American tourists, because if they can’t attack the main target because it’s too fortified, they will try to attack tourists or US interests such as their private sector people.”
Yemen has long been suspected by US officials as playing host to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The head of AQAP is Nasser al-Wuhaishi and messages between him and Ayman al-Zawahiri – who replaced Osama bin Laden as al-Qaeda chief – were picked up by the US leading to the evacuation warning.
The US State Department’s announcement urging Americans to leave the country follows a worldwide travel alert on Friday which prompted Washington to shut diplomatic missions across the Middle East and Africa. Some of its European allies have also closed their embassies in Yemen.
Britain, which has already advised for more than two years that its citizens in Yemen should “leave now”, announced it was temporarily evacuating all its embassy staff.