U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda Threat

U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda ThreatA global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department warned al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, a threat that prompted Sunday’s closure of 21 embassies and consulates.

‘Muslim holy month’

One of the sources said that such preparations appeared to have increased in recent days with the approaching end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In particular, Sunday is Laylet al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, which is one of the holiest moments on the Muslim calendar.

Based on intelligence, U.S. officials said, there was particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday.  Still, it’s unclear whether the apparent plot targets that Arabian nation or one elsewhere — which is why the travel alert applies so broadly, and why embassies from Bangladesh to Libya are being closed. The expected time of an attack also isn’t known, with the U.S. travel alert noting the threat extends through the end of August.


‘Shut down’

The 17 affected U.S. embassies are in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen. The U.S. embassy in Israel will be closed as normal Sunday. Consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also being shut down for the day. Embassies and consulates in the region typically close their doors or operate with minimal staff on Fridays and Saturdays.

Where do you think is the main target of this Al Qaeda threat? And for how long will this alert last?

Source: Chris Lawrence. Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen | CNN

Image: Al Arabiya

Syria Extends Arab League Observer Mission

Syria has extended the Arab League monitors’ mission for one month, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi told CNN Tuesday.

This comes after the league voted Sunday to extend the mission. Syrian media quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying the mission will last until February 22. Foreign Minister Walid Moallem sent a letter to Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby notifying him of Syria’s agreement to the extension.

The six nations from the Gulf Cooperation Council withdrew their observers because of continuing bloodshed in Syria and the government’s “lack of commitment” to adhere fully to the plan it agreed to with the Arab League. The bloc includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Saudi Arabia decided to pull out its monitors Sunday and the other countries followed Tuesday.

A draft U.N. resolution on Syria obtained Tuesday by CNN calls on “all states” to take steps similar to those taken by the Arab League last November, when it imposed sanctions on Syrian authorities. The 22-member Arab League has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to stop violence against civilians, to free political detainees, to remove tanks and weapons from cities, and to allow outsiders — including the international news media — to travel freely in Syria.

El-Araby and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Jasem Al Hamad sent a letter to the United Nations Tuesday requesting a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the league’s proposed national unity government for Syria, according to an Arab League official. The official asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak with the media.

 

Source: CNN

Image: IBN Live