Saturday, September 15, 2012

They're Scaling the Whats??!!!

The news footage, augmented by  ubiquitous cell phone images, were all too familiar, the east had risen again. This with the boring regularity of Arab Springs and previous protests.

Somebody had had the temerity to make a low-budget nothing film, apparently with no other purpose than to post excerpts on U-Tube and wait to see what happened. If it had been conceived with the notion of 'causing trouble' it certainly got some bang for its buck.

 The film, called 'The Innocence of Muslims',  is a portrayal of the life of Mohammed in less-than-flattering terms. He's portrayed in the piece as a sex-addicted, pederastic simpleton with a very large blood thirst. The people who acted in it, and who put it together, are busily distancing and disassociating themselves from it. The first to do so were the cast, who claimed that the film, originally titled 'Desert Warrior', contained modified voice tracks that bore little resemblance to the script they had used. The 'producer', who gave it out that he was an Israeli using $5 million in Jewish investment funds to make the film, was identified as one 'Sam Bacile'. Since then sources have directed to a "Coptic Christian' from Egypt, called "Nakoula Basseley Nakoula", as the man who represented himself as Sam Bacile (Bassil) to a number of people.  The director of the film, one Alan Roberts, has a number of previous soft-porn credits to his name. He's in hiding. The 'producer' has been brought in for questioning in regard to possibly violating a previous parole.

                                                                Nakoula with a 'Star'

Whoever made the film, arranged for an unsuccessful screening at a theatre in LA in July and perhaps then posted 'trailers' on UTube. Some of these were translated into Egyptian Arabic and at least one was shown on Egyptian TV. Then the trouble started.

At least one US Embassy was aware of the film and issued a statement decrying the derogation of anyone's religious beliefs. The next day - the anniversary  of 9/11 as mob 'scaled the embassy wall', destroyed the US flag and hoisted a black "Al Qaeda banner" in its place. Security forces removed the protestors,  but a low level demonstration has been maintained near the US embassy. It wasn't long before US sources were intimating the film, given the 9/11 timing was an expected  'Al Qaeda plot' and  planned  'provocation'.

Meanwhile in Libya, the US ambassador to that country, on a visit to the eastern city of Benghazi, was caught up when an angry mob 'stormed' the US consulate, followed by 'armed gunmen' who set the building alight and destroyed a number of vehicles. The ambassador was 'separated' from his security guard when the building was evacuated. His body and that of a staffer were later found in the consular building. The remaining staff and security personnel removed to a nearby safe house from which they were rescued, some two hours later, by a relief column of Libyan military and US Marines. In the course of this rescue, the 'safe house' was attacked by a 'heavily armed force', in the consequence of which 2 more Americans and a number of Libyans were killed. The survivors made it to the airport at Benghazi from where they were transported to safety.

American embassies were 'attacked' in Tunisia and Yemen. German and British embassies in Khartoum were attacked in lieu of the absent American one. The Swiss embassy in Iran, representing American interests, had protestors present, as did US installations in Britain, Israel. Jordan and Indonesia. Needless to say the immediate focus of America is on Benghazi, where Marines and naval forces have been assigned to help track down the 'militants' involved.

The attacks and protests have turned into a campaign issue after Republican candidate Mitt Romney took up the Fox News position that the State Department and the President 'sympathized with the killers' by not repudiating the press release made by the Egyptian Embassy before the trouble started. The Secretary of State was quick to point out that the Libyan government wasn't involved and that the killing was the work of a very small radical group.  A spontaneous pro-American demonstration seemed to back that up. But the statement led to a hearty round of 'we're so nice, poor us' malarkey in the US media.

An attack on the ISAF base Bastion/Leathernck in Helmand province, Afghanistan, that killed two Marines and destroyed a number of aircraft, was reportedly claimed by the Taliban as a 'revenge' for the film. It could have equally been an attempt to kill Prince Harry, as was threatened by the Taliban last week. Or it could just have been another 'breakthrough' for the Taliban who succeeded in penetrating the massive base defenses for the first time ever - destroying 200 million dollars worth of  mostly-irreplaceable aircraft..

An inside job 'attack' by a base employee in a flaming truck, last year, occurred the same day SecDef Panetta arrived at the base. One British soldier was hurt in that incident. The base is the main support for  British and American forces deployed in Helmand. The rest of Afghanistan has remained quiet, as has Iraq and Syria, where the moslems are too busy killing each other to protest about movies. Lebanon was fairly quiet - somebody torched the KFC store in Tripoli before trhe Holy Father arrived with his message of peace. After he left Hezbolleh started warming to the occasion.

The standard US reactions - tempest in a teapot - no excuse for violence- regrettable occurrence of free- speech, etc  ignore the possibility that, rather than being the cause, the film was the trigger for reactions to an on-going US foreign policy that interferes regularly, forcefully and militarily in all too many parts of the Muslim world - often with little attention to, or regard for, Muslim sensitivities.

The 'change' Obama promised in Egypt his first year out, has been suborned by the tea-baggers name-calling about a first 'war-losing president'. Essentially the aggressive Bush Doctrine - increased with further surges and military deployments to new 'arenas' , Presidential assassination powers and even more reticence about 'engaging' with 'evil' powers -  has been maintained by the Obama administration.

America should consider itself lucky  that it has gotten away so relatively unscathed.

PS It was announced that the Egyptian government has issued warrants for some of its citizens, resident in America who were involved with the film. I'd bet the number of countries allowed to arrest 'criminals' anytime, anywhere, is severely restricted to those allowed to kill them on sight.

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