In Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement urging more killings of U.S. diplomats, and the Yemeni parliament demanded that all foreign troops in the country be sent home, including roughly 50 U.S. Marines deployed to protect the embassy there. The U.S. military and CIA have been in Yemen for some time, in cooperation with the Yemeni government, as part of counterterrorism operations.
The decision to evacuate was the latest consequence of a week of anti-American rage across more than 20 countries in the Muslim world, although most were quiet Saturday. U.S. officials said they ordered the evacuations out of caution rather than knowledge of any specific threats. The United States does not currently have an ambassador assigned to Sudan but maintains a diplomatic presence there.
The order leaves a significantly reduced diplomatic presence in Tunisia, the country that sparked the Arab Spring last year, where additional security was also deployed to the embassy last week. A travel warning issued for Tunisia noted that the international airport was open in Tunis, the capital, “and U.S. citizens are encouraged to depart by commercial air.”
Saturday’s pullback follows the evacuation of 50 U.S. diplomatic personnel from Libya, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other State Department employees were killed Tuesday in an assault on the consulate in Benghazi.
As the administration continued to reach out aggressively to its allies and partners in the region and beyond, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke by telephone Saturday with the leaders or foreign ministers of Britain, Libya, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Somalia, the State Department said.
In Egypt, after days of pressure from the United States, President Mohamed Morsi took decisive action Saturday against lingering protests near the U.S. Embassy, with police making arrests and clearing Tahrir Square of demonstrations whose cause Morsi had only days earlier endorsed. But he had to contend with continued pressure from ultraconservative Muslims and disaffected young people who had fought for days near the embassy.
Morsi had been in the middle of negotiating more than $1 billion in aid, debt forgiveness and U.S. investments when protesters, prodded by rage over an obscure anti-Islam video that was made in the United States, stormed the embassy walls and pulled down and destroyed the American flag. The assistance talks have been subsumed by the days of protests near the embassy – some of which were called for by Morsi’s own Muslim Brotherhood party.