The US Embassy in Bahrain went on authorized voluntary departure on March 14, the latest diplomatic post to do so in four months.
Below are excerpts from the announcement:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential for ongoing political and civil unrest in Bahrain. We urge U.S. citizens to defer travel to Bahrain at this time. U.S. citizens currently in Bahrain should consider departing. On March 14, 2011, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure from Bahrain of eligible family members of U.S. Embassy staff. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Alert dated February 18, 2011.Read the whole thing here.
Bahrain has experienced a breakdown in law and order in various areas of the country over the last few weeks. Demonstrations have degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters on several occasions, resulting in injuries. There also have been multiple reports of sectarian groups patrolling areas throughout Bahrain and establishing unofficial vehicle checkpoints. On March 14, 2011, foreign military elements entered Bahrain. Spontaneous demonstrations and violence can be expected throughout the country.
There is no indication that U.S. citizens are being threatened or targeted.
US embassies in Abidjan, Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli, and Sana'a -- all went under evacuation order just in the last four months. Abidjan was ordered evacuated in late December last year, and we understand that over the weekend, accredited US diplomats were refused entry back to the Ivory Coast. Of the four other posts, only Tripoli's embassy operation was temporarily suspended with all personnel taken out of the country. All else have emergency American personnel still working at their posts.
I'm told that all Oakwood contracted to the State Dept. in the DC area are currently full with evacuees. That would be the properties in Falls Church, Rosslyn, Crystal City, Ballston and Courthouse. With five posts currently on evacuation order, excluding Bahrain, that is not surprising. Although most of these evacuated posts range from small to medium, Cairo was one of the State Dept's largest posts.
You may/may not know already that the Oakwood contract is a relatively new practice at the State Department. If you were with State during the Y2K, you might remember that there were also multiple evacuations at that time. To my correspondents who worried where all the evacuees would go, State will find a way. It has done so in the past. That does not make this any easier.
And I'm still worried about the known unknowns in Japan.