North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, September 24, 2012

al Qaeda-Islamist attack on 9/11/12 - just a "bump in the road"?

On September 11, 2012, eleven years after the twin towers attack in New York City, Muslim protests erupted in two Arab countries Egypt and Libya, and nearly two weeks later, had been seen in Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia, Gaza, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Lebanon, Greece, and Turkey.

Western Embassies targeted by Muslim protests

The first protests, while genuine and against what the crowds had been told was a film insulting the Prophet Mohammed, were initially described as "spontaneous" though that description quickly lost credibility over the next few days. The remaining protests became more and more clearly understood as being the work of Islamists or governments intent on whipping up anti-Western sentiment in broad terms.

In particular, Lebanon's Hezbollah Islamist leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, was delighted with the opportunity. He called for a week of protests not only against American embassies, but also to press Muslim governments to express their own anger to the US. He branded the video an "unprecedented" insult to Islam - worse, he said, than Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses and the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which were published in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

Most sobering, the death toll itself began climbing immediately on September 11 with the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya along with three other American diplomatic staff who had been trapped in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Through today, 30 more have been reported dead: four NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, 15 Pakistanis involved in the protests in that country, and 11 Libyans.

The unrest seems to be subsiding, though Monday, September 24th, a Pakistani lawmaker placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the alleged filmmaker from California, even as Pakistan's government distanced itself from that lawmaker's call.

The most shocking incident occurred in Libya, where US Ambassador Chris Stevens - a strong supporter of the promises possible within the "Arab Spring" and fluent in Arabic - along with three other of his diplomatic staff were hunted down and killed.

Even in Greece, riot police had to be called out to contain Muslim protests. French and German embassies were also targeted in various countries in the past dozen days.

The fundamental details in this spasm of violence remain disputed

* The US Embassy in Egypt, which had been breached for hours by protestors on September 11, quickly apologized to the crowds for the film. That apology however, was later disputed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and later rescinded or "clarified" differently by the White House.

* The "film" was described as being produced by a variety of culprits. One after another, names surfaced as to who was responsible. First, there were reports that it was the work of the infamous Koran-burning pastor from Florida Terry Jones, next by a Coptic Christian, then a Californian named Steve Klein and finally along came another mysterious consultant called Sam Bacile. As a week passed, there were accusations of others being involved, characterized interestingly as a "Jew" or an "evangelical Christian" each increasingly appearing as continuing attempts to provide the right labels to keep the outrage alive.

* Reports after the first few days, however, showed up backing down slightly from the film. For example, the film was described as "a crude effort", then alternatively a homemade video, (which incidentally had been on you-tube for over two months). After a full week since the killings in Libya, and after the media had generated stories by the hundreds accepting the "film" label, the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor both published articles noting that the word Muhammed was dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam. Each article questioned whether this film/video with the intent to insult the Prophet was genuine, or had someone doctored it with religious terms for their own purposes.

Nevertheless, the organizers of the protests have carried the day, and the dominant media narrative remains "an insulting film."

US stumbles on reaction

* The White House stuck to the story for several days that the US ambassador was killed by protestors, in spite of numerous claims, including by the Libyan government itself, that the killers were either Islamist militias or an al-Qaeda affiliate - Ansar al-Sharia or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb - taking advantage of the protests.

* After the evidence grew overwhelming, President Obama vowed that the killers would be brought to justice and that Marines were being sent to bolster security in a number of embassies. Two destroyers were moved towards the Libyan coast.

* Yet after a week of relative silence in the search for those responsible, Libyans themselves took it upon themselves to rush known Islamist militia strongholds in Benghazi and other cities and chased them out at the cost of another eleven dead. Apparently the US, with all its military and intelligence assets could not ferret out what the locals knew, or did not calculate that it was worth the effort to bring them to said justice.

What is next?

The challenge is on for most Arab governments (Iran and Gaza probably the exceptions) to balance the anger whipped up over the film or video, with the responsibility to provide security for Western embassies. For example, Egypt's new President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who is Egypt’s first freely elected president said "Expressing opinion, freedom to protest and announcing positions is guaranteed but without assaulting private or public property, diplomatic missions or embassies.”

Protests okay (staged and encouraged) in Muslim countries, along with fatwas, but not free speech in Western countries?

The US administration is under pressure with questions of why more security was not being provided for staff at embassies in volatile nations - reports are that Marines at the Egyptian embassy were not allowed to carry live ammunition.

President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, White House spokesman Jay Carney, have yet to agree on the timetable of events, their policy position, and the importance of future actions

President Obama was under scrutiny by a growing number of journalists for his low-key, and unclear stance regarding the US ambassador killing and response as well as his statement just today. "In the interview itself, Obama was responding when asked if recent events in the Middle East gave him pause for supporting governments that came to power following a wave of regime changes known as the Arab Spring.

He said he has long noted that events were going to be rocky, adding that the question itself ‘‘presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change.’’

‘‘I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights. ... But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because — you know, in a lot of these places — the one organizing principle has been Islam.’

In the next few days, a UN gathering of world leaders in New York City will provide plenty of opportunity for inflaming rhetoric, vague contradictory platitudes, and one might only hope a few more courageous and wise observations of leadership.

Iran's president anticipating his remarks on the world stage ...


Teatree said...

What has become an annual choreographed charade of free speech at the UN is now underway ...

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