Embassies are shutting down in Yemen as security deteriorates

Yemen UnrestAP Photo/Hani MohammedHouthi Shiite Yemeni raise their weapons during clashes near the presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen

Saudi Arabia has suspended all work at its embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff “due to the deterioration of the security and political situation” there, state news agency SPA reported on Friday, citing an official at the foreign ministry.

Earlier on Friday, Germany and Italy said they had closed their embassies in Yemen, following other Western states worried about security as the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi militia tightens its grip on power.

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Berlin shut down its mission on Thursday and staff left on Friday.

“In the past weeks the Houthis have seized power – this is unacceptably dangerous for us and could have consequences for the region,” she said “The situation is very concerning for us in Europe.”

YemenMohamed al-Sayaghi/ReutersAnti-Houthi protesters shout slogans to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz February 11, 2015.

Italy also announced on Friday it had closed its embassy, citing a breakdown in security. It was withdrawing its ambassador and staff, the Foreign Ministry in Rome said.

Britain, France and the United States already closed their diplomatic missions this week as the Iranian-backed Houthis consolidated control after seizing the capital Sanna in September.

Al Qaeda and other Sunni Muslim militants have stepped up attacks against Houthi fighters and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday Yemen was “collapsing before our eyes” and slipping closer to outright civil war.

YemenReutersMap showing ethno-religious areas in Yemen.

The Houthis have sidelined the central government in Yemen, which borders oil giant Saudi Arabia.

UN-backed negotiations on a political settlement continued in Sanaa on Friday. Hundreds of Yemenis gathered after prayers in the central cities of Taaz and Ibb to denounce the Houthi takeover, witnesses said.

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