Egypt closes embassy in Yemen
A military vehicle seized by the Houthi fighters - REUTERS

CAIRO:  The Egyptian ambassador to Yemen Youssef al-Sharqawy and his entire staff returned to Egypt from Sanaa due to the deteriorating security situation, a Cairo International Airport official said Sunday evening.

The diplomatic staff flew on board an EgyptAir flight from Sanaa, the official told Youm7.

The U.S., U.K. , France, Netherlands, Japan,  Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, UAE and a number of other other countries have also closed their embassies in Sanaa.

Yemen has witnessed political and security crisis since the Houthis takeover of the presidential palace in mid-January, after which they placed former President Mansour Abed Rabbo Hadi under house arrest in Sanaa.  Hadi resigned last month following the clashes that took place between the Houthis and the Yemeni Army forces.

However, after Hadi was released Saturday from Sanaa and traveled to  Aden where he held a meeting with Yemeni governors, he announced that he is still the “legitimate president,” AP reported.

The Egyptian embassy suspended its activities for few hours when Shiite Houthis controlled over the state media agency (SABA) and Television headquarters Jan. 20.

On Feb. 9, the Egyptian High Elections Committee (HEC) announced that the Egyptian expatriates’ voting process for parliamentary elections that was scheduled to be held March 21 was cancelled due to the situation of Yemen.

Bab al-Mandeb Strait

AP reported Monday that “Egypt has set up a special rapid deployment force” to take a military action and intervene if the Houthis threatened maritime navigation through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

“We never allow any threat against the Egyptian national security,” the Egyptian Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said in an interview with a UAE T.V. show on Feb. 13. The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish said in a press conference, Feb. 4, “Egypt will not accept the closure of the strait in any way, and would intervene militarily if needed…this action affects Egyptian national security, and has a direct impact on the Suez Canal.”

Media reports claimed that Houthis militants of Yemen were expanding their presence around the vital maritime corridor the strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. Yemeni newspapers reported that Iran warned the Houthis against reaching the strait to avoid any possible problems with Egypt.

On Jan. 26, a U.S. military delegation, headed by Deputy Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Rear Admiral James T. Loeblein, paid a two-day visit to Egypt, and discussed the latest developments in Yemen, and their possible effect on maritime navigation in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, DPA reported.

Additional reporting by Samar Samir

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