Closures in the Mideast and North Africa may become more commonplace.
Police work at a checkpoint in Sanaa, Yemen, one of the places where the United States shut its embassies after issuing a worldwide warning that al Qaeda may attack.
What does it mean to "close" an embassy? It's not simply a case of flicking off the lights and locking the door.
The United States temporarily closed nearly two-dozen embassies and consulates last week, mostly in North Africa and the Middle East, with 19 set to remain closed for the rest of the week. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama cited intelligence about potential terrorist attacks by al Qaeda in Yemen. On Tuesday, Washington stepped up security precautions in Yemen by ordering all nonemergency embassy personnel to leave the country and urging all U.S. citizens to depart immediately as well. Similar actions were taken by Great Britain.
To find out what closing an embassy actually means, we spoke with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, a career diplomat who most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, after previous stints as ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon. Today, Crocker leads the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and is a career ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service.
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