✚ Tragedy in Libya

Tragedy in Libya

A good first take by Blake Hounshell of FP:

What makes the deaths all the more tragic is that they will inevitably become politicized. On Tuesday, conservative websites were highly critical of a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that came ahead of a protest where demonstrators breached the embassy's walls in a moment reminiscent of 1979 in Iran. Liz Cheney and the Republican-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee joined in, accusing the administration of issuing an "apology" for a bizarre and mysterious film attacking the Prophet Mohammed that served as a pretext for the protests. And the Romney campaign issued its own statement. Wednesday will likely bring more finger-pointing.

For me, the embassy assaults are a sobering reminder not only of the deep anger and dysfunction that plagues the broader Middle East, but of the enormous difficulty the United States has in dealing with this party of the world. The level of distrust and fury toward America is not the sort of thing you heal with a speech or two. And to make matters worse, there will always be groups that exploit things that have no connection whatsoever to U.S. government policy, like this anti-Islamic film.

There will always be such groups, but the dysfunction that these groups rely on is really deeply, deeply, sad and obviously dangerous. Not to mention dangerous. In Libya it was compounded by the fact that these groups have access to all sorts of weapons. Moral of the story: such groups should be very, very closely monitored, and the duty of host countries to provide effective riot control and protection to foreign missions taken very seriously. I understand that Libya is still in a chaotic situation, it is obvious the government there has scant security control. Egypt has a lot fewer excuses — things could have always easily ended up worse.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.