Foreign Affairs

Protesters storm U.S. embassy in Yemen

Protesters storm U.S. embassy in Yemen

Somehow those “spontaneous” bursts of “Islamic rage” over a year-old film that nobody heard of before yesterday have spilled over into Yemen, whose unhappy populace evidently spends a great deal of time on YouTube and Twitter.  On Thursday, the U.S. embassy in Yemen was overrun by an angry mob, which penetrated the outer grounds, tore down and burned the American flag, and set some fires.  They were reportedly prevented from entering the embassy offices by Yemeni security forces, who “rushed to the scene, fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, and were eventually able to drive them out of the compound,” according to Fox News.

It’s a little odd that those security forces had to “rush to the scene,” as opposed to being camped out at the scene waiting for trouble, in light of events in Egypt and Libya this week.  Trouble in Yemen was highly predictable – it’s the major al-Qaeda stronghold at the moment, with a government sustained largely by turning the hill country into a hunter’s green where Predator drones bag their limit of terrorist foot soldiers.  Al-Qaeda’s number two man in the region, Saheed al-Shihiri, was vaporized in what is widely believed to have been a U.S. airstrike on Monday.  (For the record, the Yemeni government insists their forces made the kill.)

The Yemeni embassy in the United States issued a forthright statement condemning the embassy attack, and vowed to “honor international obligations to ensure the safety of diplomats and will step up security presence around all foreign missions.” There have been some conflicting reports about injuries and casualties, but at present the Yemeni government says no one was killed during the incident.  It’s not clear whether any U.S. diplomatic personnel were inside the compound during the assault.

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