SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Chanting “death to America,” hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen’s capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East.
American missions have been attacked in three Arab nations – Yemen, Egypt and Libya – that have faced persistent unrest and are struggling to restore law and order after last year’s revolts deposed their authoritarian regimes.
Protesters smashed windows as they breached the embassy perimeter and reached the compound grounds, although they did not enter the main building housing the offices. Angry young men brought down the U.S. flag in the courtyard, burned it and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith – “There is no God but Allah.”
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, driving them out of the compound after about 45 minutes and sealing off the surrounding streets. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the attack.
Demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.
The Yemeni Embassy in Washington condemned the attack and vowed to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and to step up security measures around their missions in the country.
Just a day after we learned of the deadly attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, violence is breaking out at American diplomatic compounds across the region.
According to a CNN report, hundreds of unarmed protesters have gathered at the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen are trying to scale the walls outside of the complex. The CNN coverage states:
- Approximately 1000 Yemeni security forces are outside the embassy walls
- Yemen’s Interior Minster has warned that any violence by protesters will be met with force from Yemeni police
- Warning shots have been fired into the air, but not at the protesters
- Protests are expected to wane this afternoon, only to return on Friday (mass protests on Friday have been called for in Egypt and Libya as well)
As Yemeni security forces are claiming to have the situation at Sanaa under control, tensions in Egypt appear to be either holding at the same level or possibly increasing.
NBC’s Richard Engel reported from the streets of Cairo last night and talked at length about the efforts of Egypt’s new president Muhammed Morsi to “butter both sides of the bread” as he attempts to keep the Egyptian people from attacking the American embassy while allowing them to protest. Engel’s report included a few statements about the new president that many Americans might find alarming:
- “His heart and his politics are with the people who are on the streets, with the people who are offended by this ridiculous video.”
- “Already today, Morsi, the president, asked the embassy in Washington to file a lawsuit against the director of this ridiculous movie.”
- “He is against the movie, which I can understand, he’s trying to play that populist card a little bit, so he doesn’t want to crush these demonstrations too much.”
- “He’s not going to go out on television and say, ‘what you’re doing is wrong’
- “This is the kind of guy, who before he became president, would likely have been out doing this kind of demonstration.”
TheBlaze will update the stories from the American embassies as information becomes available. The Associated Press contributed to this report.