U.S. tells American citizens to evacuate Yemen immediately

August 6, 2013

The U.S. State Department evacuates non-essential government employees and warns citizens to get out of Yemen, a border attack threatens India-Pakistan peace talks, and Syria’s Assad attempts to tap frozen assets to buy food for his people. On this Tuesday, August 6, we mark 68 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

A police trooper checks a car at a checkpoint on the road leading to Sanaa International Airport, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Evacuate immediately. The U.S. State Department today told American citizens to leave Yemen immediately and ordered the evacuation of non-essential government staff from the country, responding to threats of a possible terrorist attack by al Qaeda in that country:

The poorest Arab country, Yemen is the base for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, and militants have launched attacks from there against the West. U.S. sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden’s successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind their alert last week… The U.S. 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.

Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee named 25 senior al Qaeda operatives suspected of plotting attacks on public places during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday this week and offered a $23,000 reward for information that will aid their capture. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr al-Qirbi criticized the U.S. response to the threats, saying it serves “the goals that the terrorist elements are seeking to achieve,” adding that “Yemen had… taken all the necessary measures to protect all foreign missions in the country.” Britain withdrew its staff from the British embassy in Yemeni capital Sanaa, citing a “high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals, and terrorists.” One U.S. official told Reuters that the intercepted messages from Zawahri were part of a larger “threat picture.” Four suspected al Qaeda members were killed by drone strike early on Tuesday morning, according to local tribal leaders. The U.S. is usually responsible for such targeted strikes.

Supporters of Shiv Sena, a Hindu hardline group, burn Pakistan’s national flag and portraits of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a protest in Jammu, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Peace talk ambush. Five Indian soldiers were killed in Kashmir, India reported, delivering a blow to already precarious peace talks between India and Pakistan. The attack along the disputed border between the two countries, which Pakistan denied altogether, was one of the worst since the two countries signed a ceasefire ten years ago:

New Delhi has sought to engage Pakistan’s civilian leadership and support its peace initiatives while demanding that Pakistan’s powerful military cut ties to militant groups that have carried out attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai assaults which killed 166 people and which India blamed on Pakistan-based gunmen.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said the ambush was carried out by roughly 20 heavily armed terrorists and attackers dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms. Pakistan is on high alert ahead of the last days of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and following the escape of more than 250 prisoners from prison.

A man inspects an area of a burned wheat field which activists said was caused by shelling by the Syrian regime in Aleppo’s countryside, June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

Unfrozen funds? The Syrian government is attempting to use frozen foreign accounts to purchase food as the country faces its worst wheat harvest in nearly thirty years:

Foodstuffs are not covered by international sanctions, but banking sanctions and asset freezes imposed by Washington and Brussels as well as war created a climate that had made it difficult for some trading houses to do business with Damascus. In recent weeks Syrian state buyers have issued a series of tenders for wheat, sugar and rice amounting to over 500,000 tons in total. The tenders say payment will be made from frozen accounts with waivers obtained from countries that have imposed financial sanctions, according to documents reviewed by Reuters and confirmed by trade sources active in potential deals which will close this month.

Trade sources say that Syria may tap funds in European countries including Italy and France, and that the country’s worsening crisis might convince Western countries to unofficially accept payment from such such accounts.

Nota Bene: Former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky is set to walk free in August 2014 following ten years in prison to date.


Doctors without borders – Israeli doctors tend to refugees from Syria, an enemy country. (The New York Times)

Good enough? – Only 20 percent of Chinese women describe their romantic partner as an ideal companion, one poll shows. (Quartz)

Under the sea – American freedivers have coffee on the ocean floor off the coast of Honduras. (CNN)

A different revolution – Cairo startups thrive in the country’s burgeoning tech industry. (Al Jazeera)

Still in the dark – Twenty years on, the Philippines still suffers from an energy crisis. (Time)

From the File:

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