The United States is positioning military forces so that it can respond to unrest in as many as 17 or 18 places in the Islamic world, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced late Friday. “We have to be prepared in the event that these demonstrations get out of control,” he said. Those words dashed hopes in Washington that the anti-US Islamist rampage by now sweeping 21 countries over a video deriding Islam had passed their peak. In fact, by their sixth day Saturday, Sept. 15,the street protests against American embassies and other US symbols of influence were growing more violent and more organized, threatening not only American lives but tearing up President Barack Obama’s entire outreach policy toward Arabs and Muslims. I
In at least four Arab countries, anti-US protesters were no longer just throwing stones but using firearms. The most serious occurred in Egyptian Sinai, where scores of armed Salafist Bedouin linked to al Qaeda firing missiles, grenades, mortars and automatic weapons were able to break down two guard posts at the US-led Multinational Force near El Arish base in search of American victims. A battalion of Colombian troops fought the invaders off in fierce battle for hours, preventing them from reaching the hundreds of US officers, soldiers and air crews pinned down in fortified quarters. In Cairo, Islamist demonstrators began firing rubber bullets at Egyptian security forces which have still not succeeded in breaking up the disturbances. In Tripoli, Lebanon, protesters and the Lebanese army exchanged heavy gun fire. In Khartoum, Islamists shot their way into the US embassy and the American school before setting them ablaze.
In Tunis, the American ambassador almost suffered the same fate as his colleague, Chris Stevens and three consulate staffers who were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, last Tuesday, Sept. 11. The ambassador and several US diplomats were rescued from the burning embassy building by a special Tunisian counter-terror unit and taken to safety. Friday, saw the first five fatalities as well the first violent Muslim demonstration in the Australian town of Sydney.
debkafile’s counter-terror and intelligence sources draw seven conclusions from nearly a week of surging anti-American violence across the Middle East, South Asia and beyond:
1.The anti-Islamic video film was not the cause of the upheaval only a pretext. 2. The outbreaks were orchestrated by a number of radical Islamic organizations ranging from the ultraconservative Salafis to Al Qaeda terrorists. They took advantage of swelling anti-US sentiment in many Arab and Muslim countries to weaken local governments which maintain ties with the United States, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
3. It is not yet known how the mechanism coordinating operations among those Islamist extremist groups works, but it has already shown to be faster and more efficient than the American intelligence and counter-terror bodies keeping track of them. Day by day, Washington is caught unawares by fresh outbursts.
4. After firing up Arab and some Muslim streets, this radical coalition believes its component organizations are gathering enough leverage to start pushing out the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood branches brought to power by the US-backed Arab Spring in order to take their place. The anti-US ferment will therefore not abate, as Washington hopes, until they achieve their goal.
5. The US has sent two platoons of 50 men each of specially trained Marines to protect its embassies in Libya and Yemen and may send a third to Sudan. Otherwise, the Obama administration dare not send in American troops to prop up the new Arab regimes; any visible US military intervention in those countries would only enhance the radicals’ popularity and weaken the regimes they are fighting to remove.
6. The new Muslim Brotherhood rulers of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya face a tough strategic dilemma; Lean more heavily on American support to save their regimes, or bow to the Islamist extremists, turn their backs on America and give them a place in government.
7. Power-sharing with radicals has already begun in some Arab countries, spelling the reversal of Obama’s policies and the goals of the “Arab Spring”
Those policies aimed naively at the removal in the name of democracy of autocratic, secular Arab rulers to make way for “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood regimes elected by the people and ready to work with the United States. This ideal was violently reduced to ashes in the second week of September 2012. It is hard not to recall another debacle of 33 years ago, when President Jimmy Carter helped overthrow the Shah of Persia only to bring implacable ayatollah rule to Tehran.