Yemenis attack the U.S. embassy in protest over an anti-Islamist video

Hundreds of Yemenis have stormed the U.S. embassy in the capital of Sanaa a day after attacks spread through Libya and Egypt over a video seen as offensive to Islam. The protesters breached the embassy compound in Sanaa, but were driven back when Yemeni troops fired guns into the air and used water cannon and ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of Yemenis have stormed the U.S. embassy in the capital of Sanaa a day after attacks spread through Libya and Egypt over a video seen as offensive to Islam. The protesters breached the embassy compound in Sanaa, but were driven back when Yemeni troops fired guns into the air and used water cannon and tear gas. It is unclear if the embassy was occupied at the time of the attack; reports say the staff had already been evacuated. Clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo continued into Thursday where 16 people were reported injured overnight, 13 of whom were security forces. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called for calm, saying he condemned all who insult the prophet Muhammad, but "it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad." Unrest was also reported in Iran, Morocco, Sudan, Iraq, and Tunisia, while a small protest took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Evidence has surfaced that has led officials to believe the attack in Benghazi may have been planned by a militant group. U.S. President Barack Obama said he will work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible for the attack in Benghazi, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three staff members, to justice. Meanwhile, there is much ambiguity over the film that spurred the violence. The film's 14-minute trailer was posted to YouTube, but has since been blocked in several Muslim countries. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian living near Los Angeles, has admitted to the Associated Press that he was involved in the production of the film.

Syria

Hundreds of Yemenis have stormed the U.S. embassy in the capital of Sanaa a day after attacks spread through Libya and Egypt over a video seen as offensive to Islam. The protesters breached the embassy compound in Sanaa, but were driven back when Yemeni troops fired guns into the air and used water cannon and tear gas. It is unclear if the embassy was occupied at the time of the attack; reports say the staff had already been evacuated. Clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo continued into Thursday where 16 people were reported injured overnight, 13 of whom were security forces. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called for calm, saying he condemned all who insult the prophet Muhammad, but "it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad." Unrest was also reported in Iran, Morocco, Sudan, Iraq, and Tunisia, while a small protest took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Evidence has surfaced that has led officials to believe the attack in Benghazi may have been planned by a militant group. U.S. President Barack Obama said he will work with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible for the attack in Benghazi, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three staff members, to justice

. Meanwhile, there is much ambiguity over the film that spurred the violence. The film’s 14-minute trailer was posted to YouTube, but has since been blocked in several Muslim countries. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian living near Los Angeles, has admitted to the Associated Press that he was involved in the production of the film.

Syria

The new U.N. and Arab league envoy to Syria, Lakdhar Brahimi, has arrived in Damascus for his first visit since taking the post. He is scheduled to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, members of the Syrian opposition, and civil society figures. Brahimi assumed the position after Kofi Annan resigned out of frustration in August. Brahimi told the Arab League "he was approaching the crisis in Syria with his eyes open and the full knowledge that it was an extremely difficult task." Violent clashes have continued across Syria with a government airstrike on the country’s second largest city of Aleppo, which killed an estimated 11 people according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In some accounts, hospitals seem to be directly targeted in Aleppo. The staff at one hospital said it had been bombed at least four times. Much of the hospital is now unusable, and a medical student there said it is unsafe for patients to stay there. He said, "We treat them and then they must immediately go somewhere else." A doctor in the town of Al-Bab, about 25 miles northeast of Aleppo, said his hospital had been hit so many times that they moved it to a secret location. Many doctors are leaving Syria, fearing they face reprisals from the Assad regime for treating wounded opposition forces. Additionally, Syrian forces reportedly raided the home of former member of parliament Ahmad al-Turk, killing him and arresting his son.

Headlines  

  • United States trained engineer, Mustafa Abu Shagur, was elected by Libya’s national congress as the new prime minister, narrowly beating out wartime rebel premier Mahmoud Jibril.
  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague has arrived in Baghdad, expressing Britain’s commitment to the political process and vowing to help Iraq on its "path to stability."
  • Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif under Mubarak has been sentenced to three years in jail for appropriating state property and embezzling public funds.

Arguments & Analysis 

The politics of outrage is still an irresistible temptation‘ (Issandr El Amrani, The National)

"One of the hopes – for me at least – of the Arab uprisings is that they will lead to a qualitative change in the substance of Arab politics. I mean this not just in the sense that undemocratic regimes will be undone, replaced by real politics with real stakes and rotation of power. I also mean that I hope the uprisings can short-circuit some old tropes of regional politics, about identity, wounded pride and angry impotence.

Alas, this week’s embassy protests and senseless killings show there is still much farther to go."

Despite everything, Libya’s still a success‘ (The Economist)

"The murder of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, along with three of his colleagues at his consulate in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, was not an isolated instance of violence directed against Westerners since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime nearly a year ago. In the past few months the British ambassador’s convoy on a visit to Benghazi has been attacked. So have the offices of the Red Cross and the UN in that city, the cradle of the Libyan revolution. The perpetrators of all those crimes were thought to be Salafists espousing an extreme fundamentalist version of Islam that harks back to the days of the Prophet Muhammad.

…Yet there has also been remarkable progress, especially on the political front, in the months since the death of Qaddafi on October 20th. On September 12th the newly elected General National Congress, a proto-parliament, elected Mustafa Abushagur, a secular-minded electrical engineering professor previously based in California who had been in exile for 31 years, as prime minister. He is expected in a few weeks to appoint Libya’s first-ever democratically chosen government. Another body, whose method of selection is unclear, will write a constitution. A full-fledged parliament is to be elected within 18 months. These steady advances have been achieved with surprisingly little discord and much satisfaction after decades of tyranny. The mood in the country is still overwhelmingly hopeful."

Neocon Gambits‘ (David Remnick, The New Yorker)

"It is hard to overestimate the risks that Benjamin Netanyahu poses to the future of his own country. As Prime Minister, he has done more than any other political figure to embolden and elevate the reactionary forces in Israel, to eliminate the dwindling possibility of a just settlement with the Palestinians, and to isolate his country on the world diplomatic stage. Now Netanyahu seems determined, more than ever, to alienate the President of the United States and, as an ally of Mitt Romney’s campaign, to make himself a factor in the 2012 election-one no less pivotal than the most super Super PAC. "Who are you trying to replace?" the opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, asked of Netanyahu in the Knesset on Wednesday. "The Administration in Washington or that in Tehran?""

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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