Yemen latest Obama foreign policy failure, Graham says

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday warned that suspension of embassy operations in Yemen would only benefit terrorist groups like al Qaeda, calling the country the latest example of President Obama's "failing foreign policy."

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“Yemen has been of strategic importance to the United States, and I fear these latest developments will create a vacuum that will ultimately benefit al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” Graham, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations subpanel, said in a statement.

He said the AQAP is a “committed enemy” of the U.S. and “continues to harbor a burning desire to attack the United States, and we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves from them.”

The State Department on Tuesday announced it would close the diplomatic outpost amid concerns about the increasingly volatile security situation in the country.

Minority Shiite Houthi rebels have seized control of the capital city of Sana’a and forced the resignation of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his Cabinet.

U.S. Embassy staff members have been moved out of Sana’a, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, adding Washington would explore a diplomatic return to the country, when conditions on the ground improve.

Yemen has been touted by the Obama administration as an example of a location where its counterterrorism strategy has succeeded.

“What we’ve done in Yemen is sought to work with local officials,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “We have sought to support ground forces in Yemen who can take the fight to the extremists in their own country.

Graham, who also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, rebutted that argument.

“It’s long been clear Yemen was not the ‘success story’ that President Obama once claimed it to be,” he said. “Given the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the State Department was left with no alternative but to withdraw American diplomats from the country and close our embassy.”

Graham said the U.S. “continues to be weakened by the Obama Administration’s lack of an overall strategy to deal with the threat posed by radical Islam. Yemen is but the latest, yet I fear probably not the last, example of President Obama’s failing foreign policy.”

--This report was updated at 11:44 a.m.