The United States has formally asked American citizens in the
Gulf states to consider returning home as the allied military buildup continues and the
threat of Islamic terror attacks increases.
The State Department has urged family members of diplomats and embassy
employees to leave at least two Gulf Cooperation Council countries. At the same time, U.S.
embassies were urging an estimated 40,000 nationals in Gulf Arab countries
to leave the region, Middle East Newsline reported.
In particular, the State Department warned against travel to Kuwait. "Private American citizens currently in Kuwait should evaluate their
security situation and are strongly urged to consider departing."
Kuwait expects the arrival of 80,000 U.S. troops over the next two
weeks. On Saturday, Kuwait began new security measures to ensure the safety
of U.S. and other Western interests in the country. At the same time, two of
the leading American schools in the sheikdom said they will close for six
weeks starting on Feb. 10.
The embassies relayed warden messages to U.S. nationals in Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia. The
messages warned of increased risk of attack as hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia.
"Private American citizens currently in Saudi Arabia should evaluate
rigorously their own security situations and should consider departing," the
U.S. embassy in Riyad said. "U.S. citizens who remain in Saudi Arabia
despite this travel warning are encouraged to register at the consular
section of the U.S. embassy in Riyad, or at the consulates in Jedda and
Dharan, and enroll in the emergency alert network."
Officials said the State Department plans to reduce the number of
American diplomats in GCC states. They said alerts have been received of
attacks sponsored by groups linked to either Iraq or Al Qaida.
The U.S. embassy in Kuwait has also warned Americans to consider leaving
the sheikdom. In a travel warning over the weekend, the embassy cited three
attacks on U.S. citizens over the past four months.
"As a result of the attacks on Americans, including civilians, the
"Kuwait will be an important route for troops and we will have logistic
operations for the troops by permanently guarding some locations and
highways," Kuwaiti Interior Minister Mohammed Khaled Al Sabah said. "We
expect sabotage operations."