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Is Yemen in turn burning? Emergency evacuation of nationals

Yemen classified as a red zone (formally not recommended) by the Quai d'Orsay

The already growing revolts are beginning to take a worrying turn in Yemen. Demonstrations against the power of President Saleh (in office since 1978) have caused several deaths in recent days. With a real manhunt for opponents, use of live bullets and toxic gas. Several countries, starting with the United Kingdom and the United States, had already recalled their nationals, advising them to leave the country. The British are preparing a “NEO” (non-combatant evacuation operation) from their Northwood operations HQ to evacuate their nationals by plane if the violence worsens further. France, and other European countries, have just made the same recommendation: asking all those who do not have “no compelling reason to stay there, to temporarily leave the country as quickly as possible, by taking commercial flights".

A country never completely pacified, with a proven risk of terrorist presence and potential for the development of piracy

Yemen, a small, poor Gulf country, certainly does not have the importance of Libya or Egypt. But it is no less important in more than one way. Located at a strategic crossroads, at the confluence of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, facing Djibouti and Somalia, a Somali-style drift is undoubtedly more credible here than elsewhere. On the one hand, the reunification of the two Yemens, north and south, has never been fully realized. And the existence of a rebellion in the north turned into a real war at the end of 2009-beginning of 2010, with the intervention of Saudi Arabian planes (well guided by satellite maps provided by the French). On the other hand, the increase in piracy in neighboring Somalia seems to be emulated locally. One of the pirates tried in the United States for the Sy Quest attack is of Yemeni nationality. And the fear of a Yemeni strain of piracy could thus be increased. Ships crossing the Gulf and the Red Sea would thus be caught between the two zones. Finally, we must not forget the resurgent presence of terrorist elements, with Yemen constituting a base conducive to international actions for Al Qaeda in particular. Between theUSS Cole, subject of a suicide attack in the port ofAden en October 2000 and the attack against a British embassy car and a Frenchman in October 2010, including the (failed) attempted attack on the Amsterdam-Detroit plane in which the terrorist was allegedly trained in Yemen, the threat of Terrorism of Yemeni origin seems very real. And both Britons and Americans had recently committed to training and funding an anti-terrorist police force.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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