Attacks in Libya, Egypt: Three Things to Know

Uploaded by cfr on 12.09.2012

Protests have erupted in the last 24 hours in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya over an
anti-Islamic video that is very disparaging for Muslims, and in particular the Prophet
Muhammad that has supposedly been produced in the United States and translated in Arabic.ÊThe
protestors in Egypt have scaled the walls of the embassy, raised an Islamic flag, and
called for protests in other parts of the country.ÊIn Libya, you've actually seen a
takeover of the consulate and the death of the American Ambassador there.
Three things to know about this is that:
First, this is not analogous to the takeover of the embassy in Iran in 1979. Some are making
that comparison, but in fact, it is really quite different. In neither case have the
government aided and abetted the protestors in their actions. We can be critical of the
Egyptian government for not doing more quickly to disperse the protestors. But they did eventually
do that. They have come out against any type of violence. In Libya, you've seen strong
denunciation from the government for what happened and calls for the perpetrators to
be captured.
The second thing to keep in mind is that what is going on Egypt and Libya is in fact quite
different. This is not the same thing. In Egypt, you have relatively peaceful protestors
out expressing dismay and anger about this video from the United States Ñ calling slogans,
waving flags and things like that. In Libya, what you've seen is in fact a very violent
salvo Ñ in what could be the first salvo in almost a civil war in that country. You
have a highly armed Jihadi group that launched enormous firepower against Libyan forces,
against American security at the consulate that resulted in several fatalities. But it
underscores the problem of maintaining control in a country that is awash in arms.Ê
The third thing to keep in mind is that this issue is not going to go away. In Egypt, it's
complicated by the fact that Ñ the video out of the United States is involving several
Coptic Christians from Egypt and it's going to continue to inflame tensions there between
Muslims and Christians in an already tense situation. You've already seen leaders of
the Muslim Brotherhood calling for the United States to crack down on these types of insolent
videos of Islam and of course, we have freedom of speech and freedom of thought and freedom
of expression in this country that we have way to do that nor inclination to do that.
So there is a gulf of understanding there. In Libya, you're really seeing a breakdown
of security in a very, very significant way. The group that committed this atrocity on
the consulate had sophisticated weapons, mortars, RPG's, and it really underscores the government's
lack of control over some significant parts of the population. And this, of course, is
an issue that is going to require a lot of increased security and attention from Libya's
international partners if it hopes to prevent the country dissolving into armed conflict.Ê