Sept. 17 — In more than 20 countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, hundreds of thousands of people have held mass demonstrations against the United States and other Western countries. The protests in the Libyan city of Benghazi resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel on Sept. 11.
Stevens was well known in eastern Libya where the rebellion against the former government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi began in February 2011. The attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi — the very city in which imperialist states initiated their regime-change program for Libya — illustrate the political dilemma the White House finds itself in throughout the region.
It has not been clearly stated who was behind the attacks on the consulate, and whether they were planned or spontaneous, or a combination of both. Yet the response of President Barack Obama was to immediately announce the deployment of 50 Marines to Libya. In addition, the president announced that warships would be dispatched off the coast of Libya and both Predator and Reaper drones will be flying over the North African country, ostensibly in search of those responsible for the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack and other purported threats against U.S. personnel or interests.
There have been conflicting assessments even within U.S. ruling circles over the character of the attack on the consulate and the killing of its personnel. Some within Congress, including former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, publicly stated that the destruction of the diplomatic buildings in Benghazi was part of a well-organized plan.
Others within the administration have been ambivalent for obviously political reasons. If there was a longstanding perceived threat, then why weren’t precautionary measures taken by the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency or other U.S. personnel operating in Libya?
The U.S.-backed General National Congress President of Libya, Mohamed Yusef al-Magariaf, said of the Sept. 11 attack, “The way these perpetrators acted and moved, and their choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.” Magariaf reported that the GNC regime had arrested 50 people in connection with the investigation. (CBS News, “Face the Nation,” Sept. 16)
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice commented during the same TV program, “Based on the best information we have to date … it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution.”
Who to put the blame on?
Neither the U.S. administration nor the GNC government in Libya could address the underlying reasons behind these widespread demonstrations, which have been both peaceful and violent. Washington and its installed puppet regime in Libya have created mass unemployment, poverty and social dislocation as a result of the large-scale bombing, naval blockade and overthrow of one of the most prosperous and stable governments in Africa under the leadership of Gadhafi.
Washington Post blogger Glenn Kessler pointed out on Sept.17, “It is in Magariaf’s interest to emphasize that this tragedy does not reflect anti-American feelings by the Libyan people.” He added, “It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival.”
The demonstration in Libya against the U.S. diplomatic installation was quite similar to protests in other countries throughout the region and internationally. All of these actions could not have been organized by people from outside their respective states. The anger expressed by Muslims throughout the planet is a clear reflection of the animosity generated by the foreign policy dictates of Wall Street and its agents in Western governments.
ABC News reported that Glen Doherty, one of the former Navy Seals who was killed along with Ambassador Stevens, was at the consulate on a separate mission related to tracking down the availability of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles. (Washington Post, Sept. 17)
In the aftermath of the killing of the diplomatic personnel, the Obama administration is continuing on the same political trajectory. These diplomatic missions are carried out on behalf of the economic, military and political interests of the U.S. ruling class.
U.S. policy toward the nations of Africa, the Middle East and Asia is becoming more aggressive due to the worsening economic crisis of capitalism and the failure of the Pentagon and CIA to control events within these geopolitical regions. With the deployment of additional military personnel to Libya, these imperialist troops will become targets for the groups identified not only by the U.S. as its enemies, but by ordinary Libyans who will surely oppose the ever more aggressive occupation of their country.
Global discontent with U.S. imperialism
Mass protests also took place in the North African state of Egypt, which last year was the scene of an uprising that led to the toppling of long-time Washington ally President Hosni Mubarak.
Even with the election of President Mohamed Morsi in June, the U.S. administration is still attempting to control Egyptian domestic and foreign policy. At the time of the demonstrations in Cairo outside the U.S. Embassy, Morsi was in Brussels, Belgium, attempting to negotiate a deal with the European Union for economic assistance for his new government.
Egypt has also been in talks with the International Monetary Fund to reschedule a portion of its foreign debt. The U.S.-allied Gulf state of Qatar also has reportedly agreed to invest $18 billion in the economy of Egypt.
All these measures cannot deflect attention away from the social aspirations of the Egyptian masses and other working people and youth throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The historically unequal relations between the oppressed nations and the imperialist states are intensifying and propelling the masses into motion against those elements in opposition to their class and national interests.
Protesters in all the countries denounced U.S. imperialism and Zionism. They ripped down U.S. flags from embassy buildings and burned them along with the flag of Israel.
In Sudan, demonstrators could not get at the U.S. Embassy and therefore attacked a German outpost, where windows were broken and fires set. In Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Palestine and other states, people demonstrated in large numbers, demanding that the U.S. government stop its hostility toward Islam and countries with predominantly Muslim populations.
In other countries such as Afghanistan and Indonesia, thousands protested the U.S. and its diplomatic presence in their countries. Demonstrators and even some members of these governments called for severing relations with Washington.
Rallies were also held in Britain, Australia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan on Sept. 17. In Lebanon, Hezbollah mobilized hundreds of thousands of its supporters for a demonstration through South Beirut where chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” rang out.
These demonstrations and other manifestations of anti-U.S. sentiment will most likely continue in light of the escalating imperialist aggression around the world. Workers and the oppressed inside the U.S. must express their solidarity with Muslim people internationally.
In the U.S. and Europe, Muslims are profiled, persecuted, falsely prosecuted and imprisoned on trumped-up charges. These acts of institutional discrimination against Muslims are designed to demonize the religion of Islam in order to justify repressive measures domestically as well as the continuation of imperialist wars abroad.