United States lets personnel leave Oman, UAE
Persian Gulf nations are likely allies in war with Iraq
From Andrea Koppel
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With possible war with Iraq looming, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure Monday of nonessential U.S. government employees and families of U.S. personnel at embassies and consulates in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
The State Department also advised Americans not to travel to either place and told Americans still there to "consider departing." The travel warning cited "heightened tensions and increased security concerns resulting from the current situation in the region."
State Department officials have said that as the possibility of war with Iraq increases, the United States would likely allow its personnel in the Middle East to leave the region if the security situation in their host countries became unstable.
Teams of U.S. officials at embassies and consulates around the region have been meeting periodically to assess their security posture, and meeting with host governments about the possible need for increased security at U.S. facilities.
Oman and UAE are both considered potential allies in any coalition against Iraq, where U.S military personnel and equipment is likely to be based.
"Americans should remain vigilantly aware of surroundings, avoid crowds and demonstrations, keep a low profile, vary times and routes for all travel, and ensure that travel documents are current," the State Department said.