This weekend the U.S. started to pull 125 Special Operations advisers out of Yemen.
The United States evacuated al Annad airbase, near the city of al Houaz on Friday before it was seized by al Qaeda militants.
The base was a part of America’s drone strike operations against terrorist groups in the region and is therefore a major setback in the anti-terror campaign.
“Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the US government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen,”said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, who emphasized that they would,”continue to actively monitor terrorist threats emanating from Yemen and … take action to disrupt continuing, imminent threats to the United States.”
While the drones flew out of a base in Saudi Arabia, the base in Yemen was a focal point for counter-terrorism training, advising and intelligence gathering.
The CIA has stated that they will maintain a presence in the region despite the withdrawal of the Special Operations forces.
House Republicans warn that this is still a major setback.
“We will have no intelligence footprint,” said Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the head of the Homeland Security Committee. “Good intelligence stops plots against the homeland. Without intelligence, we cannot effectively stop it.”
The United Kingdom also evacuated their special forces operators from Yemen’s capital city Sana’a over the weekend, by airlifting them out of the city.
After fleeing to Yemen’s southern city of Aden, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has begged the UN for help against Houthi rebels who have seized six cities, including the capital.
The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen sees the Houthis, a Shi’ite following ethnic group, struggling for power against the Sunni affiliated al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Houthi leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said that the increased violence was in response to Sunni backed attacks against Shi’ites in the country.
The United Nations warned that the capture of the central city of Taiz on Sunday was a dangerous move towards total civil war.
[New York Times][Reuters][Sky News][NBC News]