Following news that the Yemeni government resigned amid conflict with the country’s rebels, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was grilled by reporters who questioned why “anarchy is not enough” of a reason for the U.S. to close their embassy in Yemen.
“In terms of the embassy, what’s the status of that?” asked the Associated Press’s Matt Lee.
“Of course, the safety and security of our personnel is of paramount importance,” said Psaki. “We are prepared to adjust our presence if necessary, but there has been no change in our security posture.”
“So, basically, anarchy is not enough to get you to adjust your presence?” Lee asked pointedly.
“Well, Matt, with all due respect to your assessment, as an AP reporter,” Psaki began condescendingly, “we have the United States government and our team on the ground assessing what is needed. We take it very seriously and we’ll make changes if we need to.”
“Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that you should, or that I think you should,” Lee responded. “I’m just wondering what it would take because it seems pretty bad right now.”
“Well, we’ve all seen the images on television and certainly we’ve seen violence escalate over the last several days,” Psaki explained. “There was a lull in that a bit yesterday, but we want to assess what’s needed. We’re certainly prepared to take steps if we need to.”
“So you don’t agree with the assessment that it’s anarchy in Yemen then,” another reporter asked.
“I don’t think I’d describe it in those terms,” Psaki said. “So I’ll leave it in my own terms.”
“What would you describe the situation as then?” the reporter questioned.
“I’ll leave it as I just described it. Obviously there has been news that has been breaking. We’re assessing what that means, we’re looking for confirmation of that,” Psaki said. “We’re continuing to encourage and support a peaceful transition. Obviously, we’re not in a position, I don’t think any of you are either, to assess what it means at this point and time.”