As reported by Stripes.com, the Navy has positioned the USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry in the Red Sea for a possible evacuation of the U.S. Embassy personnel from the Yemen capital of Sanaa.
According to U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, that in recent hours both ships were moved to the Red Sea, closer to Yemen’s capital, from the Gulf of Aden.
“They are ready to support operations to protect Americans in Yemen if that becomes necessary,” Stephens said. He continued to say the decision to evacuate personnel will be decided by the State Department based on conditions in Sanaa.
The presidential palace was seized and the presidential residence was shelled Tuesday by the Shiite Houthi rebel group in what was called an attempted coup by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Hadi is still believed to be in Sanaa. This is the same group that took responsibility for the attack against French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that resulted in the deaths of 12 people.
Yemen’s government is considered a close ally to the U.S. in efforts to remove al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. While it is known Houthi rebels are against the Yemeni government and the U.S. involvement in the country, they also claim to be against al-Qaida operating in Yemen.