Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement
Issued by US Department of State
Mar 20, 2003
This Public Announcement is being updated to alert Americans to an
increased potential for anti-American violence, including terrorist actions
against U.S. citizens, as a result of the military action in Iraq. This
supersedes the Public Announcement of November 20, 2002 and expires on July
The Department of State reminds Americans traveling to or residing in the
Middle East and North Africa (including the Arabian Peninsula and the
Persian Gulf region) to exercise caution. Tensions generated by the current
crisis in Iraq have increased the potential threat to U.S. citizens and
interests abroad posed by those harboring anti-American sentiments. Public
demonstrations throughout the Middle Eastern region now carry a greater
potential for precipitating violence directed at American citizens,
symbols, or interests.
The threat to U.S. citizens in the Middle East includes the risk of attacks
by terrorist groups, including to those with links to Al-Qaeda. Terrorist
actions may include suicide operations, bombings or kidnappings. While
conventional weapons such as explosive devices are a more immediate threat
in many areas, use of non-conventional weapons, including chemical or
biological agents must be considered a possible threat. Terrorists do not
distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at
official U.S. facilities has led terrorists and their sympathizers to seek
softer targets such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of
worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts and beaches.
U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.
Facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services for security
reasons. On occasion, the travel of official personnel at embassies and
consulates around the world is restricted because of security concerns, and
these posts may recommend that private American citizens avoid the same
areas if at all possible. Services to American citizens may be affected if
employees' movements are restricted. If this happens, U.S. embassies and
consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to American
citizens. In case office hours are reduced, American citizens in need of
emergency assistance should telephone the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
before visiting in person.
In countries where the security of U.S. citizens is considered at
particularly high risk, the Department of State may authorize non-emergency
Embassy personnel and/or their dependents to voluntarily depart the country
or may, if security conditions warrant, order the departure of some or all
Embassy personnel. The Department of State will inform the U.S. public when
decisions of this nature are made.
In addition, U.S. citizens planning to travel to the Middle East or North
Africa should consult the Department of State's Public Announcements, Travel
Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, Fact Sheets, and regional travel
brochures on the Consular Affairs Internet web site at
http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security conditions can
also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. and for callers
outside the U.S. and Canada a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328.