Middle East & Arab World – 9/11 2012

Written by  //  November 2, 2012  //  Middle East & Arab World, U.S.  //  1 Comment

The fallacy of the phrase, ‘the Muslim world’
Western media reinforces stereotypes by reducing a complex set of causes to the rage into an amorphous mass.

It is time to retire the phrase “the Muslim world” from the Western media. Using the phrase in the manner above disregards not only history and politics, but accurate reporting of contemporary events. The protests that took place around the world ranged in scale and intensity, in the participants’ willingness to use violence, and in their rationales. The majority of the “Muslim world” did not participate in these protests, nor did all of the Muslims who protested the video advocate the bloodshed that took place in Libya. More on Al Jazeera

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2 November
(Foreign Policy) New information continues to shed light on the circumstances around the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. As reported by journalists Harald Doornbos and Jenana Moussa on Foreign Policy, documents found recently at the site of the attack show concern over “troubling” surveillance of the compound on the day of the attack. One letter also shows that Stevens and his team had requested additional security from the Libyan government and did not feel it was being provided. The letters, along with other official documents, were apparently not removed by the FBI team that visited the site nearly a month ago.
The CIA has also provided its most detailed account yet to the media of its immediate response to the attack. According to intelligence officials, the CIA rushed operatives to the Benghazi compound within 25 minutes of it coming under attack, used an unarmed military drone to map escape routes, and helped mobilize the evacuation of surviving American personnel. The new account follows weeks of political criticism of the Obama administration’s response to the attack.

22 October
Tale of the Tape: Republicans accused Obama of misreading the Libya intelligence to suit his worldview. Then they did the same thing.
Tonight, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will debate foreign policy. They’ll argue about last month’s fatal assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. They’ll pretend to have figured out the world. And most of us, committed to one guy or the other, will play along.
We’re kidding ourselves. The Benghazi attack should humble us. Not just because our ambassador and three aides were killed, but because all of us—even those who thought they were uncovering the truth behind a lie—were wrong about what happened.

27 September

Who’s afraid of Muslim Rage?

A US magazine cover screams out the general media slant of the last two weeks: the Muslim world is burning with anti-western anger over an Islamophobic film, with hordes of violent protesters on the streets threatening us all … but is it really? Citizens and new media are responding, and Gawker has brilliantly satirised the hype with alternative images of “Muslim Rage”  More from Avaaz

Harsh Self-Criticism In Arab World Over Violent Reactions To Anti-Islamic Film
(Middle East Media Research Institute) The attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and embassy in Cairo on the night of September 11, 2012, and the spread of violent protests to many countries in the Middle East have sparked unprecedented criticism in the Arab press of Arab and Islamic society and its way of dealing with the current crisis. Many articles claimed that violent protests harm the Prophet Muhammad and his way and are contrary to Islam’s moral standards, and that it would have been better to show the moderate and tolerant face of Islam by responding through artistic and cultural expression.
Several columnists expressed fear that Arab society is sinking into ever-increasing extremism, and argued that Arabs and Muslims should distance themselves from violence and terrorism, which are the source of the West’s suspicion of Islam. They stated that today’s Arab and Islamic society contributes nothing to human civilization and is to blame for its own state.

Clinton Suggests Link to Qaeda Offshoot in Deadly Libya Attack
Her remarks added to the administration’s evolving and at times muddled explanation of what happened on the evening of Sept. 11 and into the next morning. Republicans in Congress have accused President Obama of playing down possible terrorist involvement in the midst of a re-election campaign in which killing Osama bin Laden and crippling Al Qaeda are cited as major achievements.
Mrs. Clinton made her remarks at a special United Nations meeting on the political and security crisis in the parts of North Africa known as the Maghreb and the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali
24 September
Islamist base torched after massive pro-democracy rally in Libya
(Reuters via National Post) Pro-government demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia militia in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday, aiming to evict fighters from the site, Reuters witnesses said.
Ansar al-Sharia has been linked to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died. It denies involvement.
Friday’s action against the group appeared to be part of a co-ordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against militia units earlier in the day. (Al Jazeera) Protesters seek to disband Libya militias — Large “Save Benghazi” march coincides with smaller Ansar Sharia protest against anti-Islam video and cartoons.
19 September
A Textbook Islamist: The Man Who Ignited the Muhammad Movie Rage
(Gatestone Institute)Sheikh Khalid Abdullah, an Egyptian Salafist and TV personality, aired a show more than a week ago about a film called “The Innocence of Muslims,” which reportedly slanders Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The way the Islamists in Egypt and their fellow Islamists have chosen to magnify a 13-minute online video into a streaming wave of violence and anti-Israeli and anti-American hate shows the true side of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been claiming to be pro-democracy and anti-violence, and that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists in general have not changed because of the Arab Spring.
Egypt pursues makers of anti-Islam video
Arrest warrant issued for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and Florida pastor in symbolic case meant to placate anger.
(Al Jazeera) The case is largely symbolic since the seven men and one woman are believed to be outside of Egypt and unlikely to travel to the country to face the charges.
The decision to take legal action appears aimed at placating some of the public anger over the amateur film whose trailer has attracted tens of millions of views on YouTube.
17 September
Video shows Libyans trying to rescue US ambassador
(AP via Yahoo!News)) — Libyans tried to rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens, cheering “God is great” and rushing him to a hospital after they discovered him still clinging to life inside the U.S. Consulate, according to witnesses and a new video that emerged Monday from last week’s attack in the city of Benghazi. Let’s hope this puts to rest horrible reports and rumors that have been circulating.
Internal Rifts Color Anti-U.S. Protests
(WSJ) Fierce anti-American protests waned around the Middle East on Sunday, but the delicate, often tense politics that helped fuel them will be the defining dynamic in the region for some time, politicians and analysts warned
The UN Brief summary below is somewhat misleading indicating that general opinion is that the video was the prime cause of the protests.
As anti-U.S. protests wane, UN officials trace unrest to film
While anti-U.S. protests were quieting across some two dozen countries in the Muslim world, thousands of Afghans took to the streets Monday, shouting “death to America,” and the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon called for a week of renewed protests against an anti-Islamic film. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the film was behind what she called a spontaneous protest at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya — which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and led to the arrests of several dozen Libyans. UN rights chief Navi Pillay called the film “malicious,” adding that it “should be deprived of the oxygen of publicity.” BBC (9/17), Reuters (9/17), Yahoo!/The Associated Press (9/14), The Hill/Global Affairs blog (9/16), Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (9/17)
16 September
Libyan leader says 50 arrested in U.S. consulate attack
(Reuters) – The head of Libya’s national congress said on Sunday about 50 people had been arrested in connection with a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week, although the interior minister put the figure far lower.
Magarief said some of those arrested were not Libyans and were linked to al Qaeda, the militant Muslim group that carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. [He] described others as affiliates or sympathizers.
“It was definitely planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago and they were planning criminal acts since their arrival,” he said, adding that some were from Mali and Algeria. Magarief said there was little doubt the assault was planned rather than a spontaneous reaction to the video, citing the fact that it came on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on Sunday talks shows that preliminary information indicated that the consulate attack was not planned.
“There’s no question, as we’ve seen in the past with things like ‘The Satanic Verses,’ with the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad, there have been such things that have sparked outrage and anger and this has been the proximate cause of what we’ve seen,” she said.
[emphasis added]
Daniel Drezner: A teachable moment for the United States on its role in the Middle East
(Foreign Policy) Right now, it’s the president who needs to deliver a major address.  Americans are rightly confused by what the United States is doing in the Middle East, and President Obama had a pretty uneven week.  On the one hand, there appears to have been some adroit behind-the-scenes diplomacy on Egypt.  On the other hand, there are crisis moments when patience begins to look too much like passivity, and that’s beginning to happen to this administration.  Sure, there have been times in the past when U.S. embassies and consulates around the world faced even greater threats — but things still seem pretty uncertain, U.S. lives have been lost, and the only thing that can be said for Barack Obama’s leadership this week is that he’s not Mitt Romney.  Oh, and that the administration’s argument that this has been caused by a single stupid Youtube clip is utter horses**t.
The American public is already predisposed towards getting the hell out of the Middle East.  Seeing images of consulates burning down, caskets coming home draped in American flags, and Middle East leaders reacting slowly and tepidly to the threat of street mobs will only reinforce this predisposition.  Most Americans, facing these images after two long and draining wars in the region, will likely want to reduce the U.S. profile in the Middle East even more.
That would be a mistake, for numerous reasons — not the least of which is that the U.S. eventually does benefit if these countries manage to transition to genuine electoral democracies.  It’s telling that in Egypt and Libya it was the losers at the ballot box who created trouble in the streets.  A reduction of the U.S. presence in these countries does not necessarily send the best of signals — just as encouraging the use of deadly force in retaliation wouldn’t either.
15 September
U.S. Is Preparing for a Long Siege of Arab Unrest
(NYT) After days of anti-American violence across the Muslim world, the White House is girding itself for an extended period of turmoil that will test the security of American diplomatic missions and President Obama’s ability to shape the forces of change in the Middle East.
Although the tumult subsided Saturday, senior administration officials said they had concluded that the sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries may presage a period of sustained instability with unpredictable diplomatic and political consequences. While pressing Arab leaders to tamp down the unrest, Mr. Obama’s advisers say they may have to consider whether to scale back diplomatic activities in the region.
The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season, and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy: Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy? Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists? Did his administration fail to address security concerns?
While we deplore the tone and much of the content of Mark Steyn’s piece (but then he is rabidly anti-Obama of the Rush Limbaugh variety), there are some disturbing questions. However, we would ask just what he and his like-minded friends would propose be done without precipitating a ghastly conflagration in the Middle East & Arab world.
Mark Steyn: Disgrace in Benghazi — And a dying superpower’s blundering response.
(The National Review) … The men who organized this attack knew the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the embassy in Tripoli. How did that happen? They knew when he had been moved from the consulate to a “safe house,” and switched their attentions accordingly. How did that happen? The United States government lost track of its ambassador for ten hours. How did that happen? Perhaps … the American media might like to look into some of these fascinating questions, instead of leaving the only interesting reporting on an American story to the foreign press.
Anti-American protests break out in Yemen and Kashmir
Security forces in Yemen fired water cannons at demonstrators outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa as protests over a film considered insulting to Islam spread to Asia. In Kashmir, an estimated 15,000 gathered today to protest the film. Smaller, peaceful protests took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi in a televised address urged calm and condemned the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Chicago Tribune/Reuters (free registration) (9/14), USA TODAY/The Associated Press (9/14)
The Young Turks: Who’s Behind The “Innocence of Muslims” Film
Salon.com: Steve Klein’s anti-Muslim crusade
The consultant behind “The Innocence of Muslims” has been pushing Coptic Christians to join his cause for years

Mohammad Hannon/Associated Press

13 September
Murder in Libya
(The Economist) The world’s policeman must not retreat from the world’s most dangerous region; indeed America should do more
Chris Stevens died at the hands of militants, not an offended mob
The brutal death of Chris Stevens shows Libya is home to many unregulated, well-equipped radicals who are hostile to the US
(The Guardian) Those caught up in the excitement and jubilation of last year’s Arab spring will be at a loss to reconcile it with the murder of an American ambassador. The brutal killing of Chris Stevens alongside three colleagues in a grenade attack is an unmitigated disaster for those striving to establish democracy in the Middle East and north Africa.
Not only did Stevens die in Benghazi – the cradle of the Libyan revolution – but the diplomat was pivotal in getting the US to support the Nato air attacks that ultimately toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years. A “clean” intervention was his mantra – facilitating the death of a dictator through superior firepower while not risking a single American life. Now, in a country stripped of a functioning security apparatus and awash with weapons and ammunition, Stevens has met a similarly violent end to Gaddafi.
The perpetrators are not the only ones trying to set their extreme violence in the context of an insult against their Muslim religion. An Egyptian crowd who attacked the US embassy in Cairo on Tuesday was protesting against the same film clips that triggered a storming of the US consulate in Benghazi, and then Stevens’ death. All were apparently incensed that the crass images, posted on YouTube, insulted the prophet Mohammed.
Does the movie that provoked the Libyan slayings even exist?
An offensive trailer for the film fueled deadly riots in Egypt and Libya. But according to enterprising reporters, the claim that an entire film exists may be a lie
Anti-Islam film: What we know
Video mocking Prophet Muhammad spurs attacks on US diplomatic missions in Benghazi and Cairo.
Arab spring leaves state frailties in its wake
In Libya and Egypt, the state has been weakened by revolutions of the past 18 months and it has given radical groups space to manoeuvre
Innocence of Muslims, the film that mocked Prophet Muhammad, was allegedly produced in the US by a filmmaker with ties to Coptic Christian groups, and excerpted on YouTube with dubbing in Arabic.
14 September
David T. Jones: It’s impossible to keep U.S. diplomats safe
(Ottawa Citizen) … underneath the spinning there is an existential problem for the security of U.S. personnel overseas.
It starts with the reality that international law puts full responsibility for protection of diplomats on the host nation. Such obviously fatally failed in Libya. And it also reflects the reality that no defending force (not even the dispatch to Libya of 50 extra Marines in a PR/feel good exercise) can hold an embassy if the host government won’t protect it. Moreover, outnumbered, minimally armed defenders rarely fire under the assumption that killing some attackers would prompt a massacre of the U.S. government personnel when defences are overcome.
… the flash crowd madness that seems to strike in the region is disconcerting and profoundly dangerous. One recalls the U.S. embassy in Islamabad burned in 1979 following an inane radio report that the U.S. bombed Mecca. And frenzied hostility persists throughout the Muslim world, epitomized by riots over cartoons or films about Muhammad, crazed attacks on poor Christians in Pakistan/Egypt, and the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Iran/Iraq; they have no rational explanation.
… This would be a good time for a systematic scaledown; reducing embassy staffs to skeleton dimensions in most of the Islamic world and closing (temporarily at least) many consulates. Frankly, while a live diplomat has certain on-the-ground advantages, a dead diplomat doesn’t.
Steven A. Cook: Meet the New Boss
The news may look grim, but the United States is poised to remain the dominant power in the Middle East.
It may be a new Middle East, but some of the old realities still hold true. Osama el-Baz, Mubarak’s longtime foreign-policy troubleshooter, once remarked, “There is no alternative to the United States … yet.” To date, the shift in the global distribution of power to which Baz was referring has not occurred. The United States may still struggle with the pathologies of decline — burdensome military commitments, foreign assistance packages, and alliances — but for better or worse, the Middle East remains well within Washington’s sphere of influence.
(Foreign Policy) After a decade of two wars, regime change in Libya, the prospect of conflict with Iran, and general upheaval, Americans may be tired of this volatile region. But don’t expect the United States to depart anytime soon. That is the price of indispensability — and exceptionalism too.
The attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this Sept. 11 echoed the worst moments of American impotence in the Middle East. They not only evoked memories of Iranian revolutionaries storming the U.S. Embassy in Tehran almost 33 years ago, but their occurrence on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington further reminded Americans of the deep roots of anti-American rage in the Arab world.
Nowhere is this leadership role clearer than in the Middle East. For all the sentiment among Libyans, Tunisians, Syrians, Bahrainis, Yemenis, and especially Egyptians about national empowerment, the United States will continue to be the region’s indispensable power. This may sound odd given everything that has happened in the region over the last 18 months, including the assaults on U.S. embassies this week. And yes, the Arab uprisings, the United States’ difficult fiscal situation, and new contenders for regional leadership all pose a challenge to Washington’s influence. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and a potentially rejuvenated Egypt all want to be influential players in the Middle East, but in the crosscutting conflicts of the region, only Washington can lead.
13 September
Robert Fisk: The provocateurs know politics and religion don’t mix
It only takes a couple of loonies a few seconds to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world
(The Independent) So another internet clever-clogs sets the Middle East on fire: Prophet cartoons, then Koranic book-burning, now a video of robed “terrorists” and a fake desert. The Western-Christian perpetrators then go into hiding (an essential requisite for publicity) while the innocent are asphyxiated, beheaded and otherwise done to death – outrageous Muslim revenge thus “proving” the racist claims of the trash peddlers that Islam is a violent religion.
12 September
Smoke, confusion and a missing ambassador in Libya attack
(Reuters) – Security personnel were separated from the U.S. ambassador to Libya during the attack in which he was killed, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, describing a chaotic scene of smoke, gunfire and confusion as the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault.
Amb. Christopher Stevens appears to have been killed in premeditated al-Qaeda attack
This morning blogger b. at Moon of Alabama … [speculated] the attack was carried out to avenge the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi a high ranking al Qaeda operative who was targetted in a drone strike in June. The video confirmation of al-Libi’s death preceded the attack. Hours later CNN reported Attack may have been al Qaeda revenge plot, and has now doubled down more assuredly: Pro-al Qaeda group seen behind deadly Benghazi attack
The obscure anti-Muslim film that sparked Egyptian and Libyan riots: A guide
How did a low-budget, amateurish piece of agitprop set off deadly riots against American citizens in the Middle East?

One Comment on "Middle East & Arab World – 9/11 2012"

  1. AWJR September 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm · Reply

    This seems to make it reasonably clear that blasphemy laws in the US, even if they’re still on the books, won’t be enforced.
    Blasphemy law in the United States – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    “In the United States, a law against blasphemy, or a prosecution on that ground, would violate the American Constitution. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” While there are no federal laws which forbid “religious vilification” or “religious insult” or “hate speech”, some states have blasphemy statutes.”
    2) Blasphemy, Canadian Criminal Code
    Yes it’s in there, s. 297, called “blasphemous libel”, 2 years. The term isn’t defined, there’s a limiting section about good faith and decent language, but it’s there. The comment section notes it’s archaic, and if used would likely be challenged under the Charter.
    I wonder if there’s something similar in US jurisdictions?

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