A Yemeni media outlet reported Thursday that Houthi jihadists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. Al-Masdar Online detailed how the Iranian-backed group seized equipment and other materials at the site. Earlier in the week, the group kidnapped three Yemenis connected to the embassy.
An official with the U.S. State Department confirmed the media reports and said that the U.S. has been “unceasing in its diplomatic efforts” to have the Yemeni nationals released. The statement continued that they were being “detained without explanation” and said the U.S. is “concerned” about the security at the compound. The State Department said it was calling on the Houthis to immediately leave the site and return the U.S. property they seized.
Even though Saudi Arabia has been incurring Houthi air attacks in Yemen, the Biden administration removed a missile defense system from Saudi territory in September. If the removal of the defense system was meant as a move to appease the Iranians, it has not reduced threats to American interests. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has only said that the U.S. commitment to its Middle Eastern allies remains “broad and deep,” but did not mention the Iranian threat when describing the “redeployment of certain air defense assets.”
Without providing any reassurances regarding the defense of American embassies, Kirby said that the U.S. continues to maintain forces and a “robust force posture” in the region representing the most advanced American “air power and maritime capabilities.”
The U.S. closed its embassy in Yemen in 2015 as the country was embroiled in a civil war that has led to an ongoing humanitarian crisis. American diplomats were recalled at that time, although limited Yemeni allies were kept on to continue diplomatic work and provide security to the embassy compound.
Saudi Arabia became involved in the conflict the same year in response to calls for assistance from Yemen President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. He was ousted from office at the same time by the Houthi rebels.