Yemen seems like an interesting place to visit. So far the closest I've come is listening to Ofra Haza's music and sitting around a kitchen table in Los Angeles and talking with her before she passed away. In 2009 we looked into how safe it is to visit Yemen-- short answer: it's one of the world's 10 least safe countries--and in 2011 we suggested postponing your trip to see the mud skyscrapers until after the revolution. I think I better update that; wait til your next lifetime. Back in 2011, the State Department was very clear:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should consider departing Yemen. The Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure from Yemen of the family members of U.S. Embassy staff and non-essential personnel. This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued October 15, 2010.Guess what the U.S. (and the Brits) are telling their citizens in Yemen this week. GET. OUT. OF. DODGE... NOW! Two planefuls of American citizens were evacuated from Yemen Tuesday.
...The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is also a security threat to maritime activities in the region. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. government remains concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. There is ongoing civil unrest throughout the country and large-scale protests in major cities.
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.Why all the concern? Who remembers Ayman al-Zawahri? He took over al-Qaeda when bin-Laden was killed in Pakistan. And he personally ordered a big Ramadan mayhem spree. That's why Obama closed two dozen embassies and consulates in the Middle East last week-- and why they're still closed and why U.S. citizens, tourists and otherwise, are being told to stay away. NSA intercepted some electronic messages-- which is their job (rather than spying on American citizens in the U.S., which is NOT their job and not constitutional). The conversation between al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was part of a mass breakout from a prison in Sana in 2006, indicated that a big bang was ordered in Yemen.
On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 16, 2013.
The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. In September 2012, a mob attacked the U.S. Embassy compound. Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration. Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. A U.S. citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18, 2012 and the press reported that AQAP claimed responsibility. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen. In the last year, international and local media have reported several kidnappings of Westerners. Violent crime is also a growing problem; local media reported the murder of two U.S. citizens in Taiz and Aden in 2013. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.
...U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information.
Al Jazeera is reporting that a U.S. drone strike killed at least four al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen's Marib province and that one of them, Saleh al-Tays al-Waeli, was wanted in connection with al-Zawahri's Ramadan plot. Drone strikes have killed 17 people in Yemen last week. The BBC is reporting that al Qaeda fighters have been converging on San'a to implement the plan.
The source described the plot as dangerous, and suggested it was to include explosions and suicide attacks aimed at Western ambassadors and foreign embassies in Yemen, in addition to operations aimed at the Yemeni military headquarters.I bet a nice shiny hotel catering to Western tourists would be a bad idea too; just a guess.