Sunday, April 26, 2015

American citizens trapped in Yemen

Airstrikes in Yemen
Despite the fact that multiple other countries, including China, India and Russia, have evacuated their citizens, the US has refused to rescue to American citizens trapped in Yemen. They claim that any action on their part would put citizens at further risk. Nevermind that there are daily air raids, gunmen in the streets and a dire food shortage, since Yemen imports (or at least used to import) almost all its food.

My family has a personal tie to this conflict, as we currently have a Yemeni exchange student staying with us. His family has been rationing their food for weeks, and a rebel sniper was killed on the roof of his apartment building. If this is what normal Yemeni citizens face, imagine the danger to known American citizens.

The State Department also points out that they have long warned travelers to not visit Yemen. This "I told you so" attitude provides great cover for the State Department, but does nothing to protect American citizens or end the current conflict.

The US should be doing more to protect Americans abroad and to make peace with the Houthis. If the US is unable or unwilling to take direct action to rescue their citizens, they should at least provide monetary support to other countries who are rescuing foreigners. In addition, they should work to create safe zones in neighboring countries (such as on the coasts of Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea), so that citizens who manage to escape on their own can easily make their way back to the US instead of having to fight their way to an embassy.

What do think the US should do for American citizens in Yemen?
What role should the US play in the larger conflict?


John Graham said...

I think it is ridiculous that the US refuses to get involved considering that it seems very necessary to do so. In fact, in an article by Bloomberg View, the mention that other countries that had already evacuated their citizens such as India and Russia had also tried to extend their services to Americans.

Considering the US government was able to evacuate 6000 Americans from Lebanon back in 2006, it seems very unfair that the State Department is simply giving up on Yemeni-Americans. I believe that currently the evacuees best bet is to make it to the shores of Djibouti and receive help there, but the general lack of initiative to help on the US'part is disheartening. Since I don't have a lot of background on the civil war that has erupted in Yemen, I can't necessarily suggest a direct plan of action.

Catherine van Blommestein said...

Currently, Yemen is a hot potato, as the administration does not know which way to go with it. Just a few months ago, the Obama administration called Yemen a success story in the fight against terrorism. Clearly, the administration was not forthcoming in telling the American public the truth about Yemen. I believe that if the government has any hesitation about rescuing our Americans in Yemen it is because it would have to admit that it was wrong about Yemen. When we have American citizens in danger, they need to be rescued.