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State Department Shuts US Embassy In 'Ally' Saudi Arabia Amid "Heightened Security Concerns"

Having recently noted The Kingdom's new king's decrees promising to support the poor and needy with more and more handouts (and to halt the rise of inequality), it is interestingly coincidental that, as The BBC reports, the US embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh has cancelled all consular services for Sunday and Monday due to "heightened security concerns," and consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran would not be available. This follows Friday's warning that Western oil workers could be the target of militant attacks.

As The BBC reports,

The US embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh has cancelled all consular services for Sunday and Monday due to "heightened security concerns".

 

In a statement, the embassy said consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran would not be available.

 

It urged US citizens to take extra precautions when travelling in Saudi Arabia and to keep a low profile.

 

On Friday, the embassy warned that Western oil workers could be the target of militant attacks.

 

It said it had information that "individuals associated with a terrorist organisation" could be targeting people working in the oil-rich Eastern Province.

 

The message did not identify the militants.

 

Saturday's statement did not give details of any specific threat but said: "All US citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country.

 

"The Department of State urges US citizens to carefully consider the risks of travelling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country."

 

The last security incident in Saudi Arabia involving US citizens happened last October when a disgruntled Saudi-American, dismissed from his job at a US defence contractor in Riyadh, shot two US co-workers, killing one and wounding the other.

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Full State Department statement:

Due to heightened security concerns at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have cancelled all consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran for Sunday, March 15 and Monday, March 16, 2015. Telephone lines to the Consular sections will not be open during these two days. In an emergency, please use the emergency contact numbers provided below.

All U.S. citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country.

Regardless of where you are, it is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high. Please follow these good personal security practices:

Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public;

Know where you are going and have a plan of what to do in the event you encounter demonstrations or violence;

Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals, Saudi Government buildings) in your area and how to get to them quickly;

Tell co-workers or neighbors where you’re going and when you intend to return;

Minimize your profile while in public;

Always carry a cell phone and make sure you have emergency numbers pre-programmed into your phone such as the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh (011-488-3800), U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah (012-667-0080), and U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran (013-330-3200). The emergency number for the Saudi Police, Fire, and Rescue is 999. Please keep in mind that most emergency dispatchers and personnel do not speak English;

Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns;

Report concerns you may have to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, or the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran.

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In other words... Something is going in Saudi Arabia... but do not panic.