Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says instability in Yemen is a threat to regional and global security. The U.S. Embassy there has been closed for two days and will reopen only "when the security conditions permit," Clinton said Monday.
The embassy closure was "in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula," Clinton explained. The threats "predate this holiday season and they are aimed at American interests in Yemen."
The U.S. Embassy in San'a has been the target of a terrorist attack as recently as 2008. France and Britain have also temporarily closed their embassies.
Clinton says she is consulting her counterparts to try to come up with new strategies to stabilize Yemen.
"We see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by al-Qaida in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region," she said.
President Obama has called a White House meeting Tuesday of his national security team to discuss how a Nigerian man, who allegedly got training and explosives in Yemen, managed to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit late last month.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a valid U.S. visa, although his father had warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son was a radical. Clinton said the State Department sent the information through the proper channels, but she conceded Monday that those procedures might need "an upgrade."
Clinton's remarks were her first public comments since the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. She was speaking after a meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who raised concerns not only about the terrorist threats but also about civil strife in Yemen.
U.S. Gen. David Petraeus visited Yemen over the weekend and announced that America will more than double its counterterrorism aid to the country.
Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, says the United States should do more than just train Yemeni troops.
"It's not nearly as sexy to train a bureaucrat as it is to train a solider. It doesn't look nearly as good on film. But if you are really talking about the ability of a state to survive, you really need a strong governmental structure," Bodine told NPR.
She said the U.S. and its partners need to find a way to make sure Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, doesn't go from fragile state to failed state.
"If you just want to do it from a dollars and cents point of view, it is a whole lot more cost effective to invest in state capacity building [and] in human capacity building then to wait for Yemen to become a failed state and then go back and rebuild it. And we certainly don't want it to fail," Bodine said.