Protests Likely Will Continue: Panetta
September 16, 2012 - 8:56 am
The American government believes that protests against the film Innocence of Muslims “are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says that the Pentagon has “deployed our forces to a number of areas in the region to be prepared to respond to any requests that we receive to be able to protect our personnel and our American property.”
He declined to provide more details on reports that the military may be moving additional military forces so they can respond to unrest in any of a number of regions of concern.
“I think our approach right now is to not do anything until we’ve been requested to do it by the State Department,” Panetta told reporters traveling with him aboard a U.S. military aircraft to Asia. But he noted that, “I think that we have to continue to be very vigilant because I suspect that … these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer.”
Protests by furious Muslims erupted in countries around the world in recent days, with some spawning violence and even deaths over an anti-Islam video shot in California that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad. In places like Libya, Sudan and Tunisia, protesters stormed U.S. embassies, and an American fast food restaurant was burned in Lebanon.
In response, the Pentagon dispatched elite Marine rapid response teams to Libya and Yemen, but a team deployed to Khartoum on Friday was turned back when the Sudanese government objected.
Asked about Sudan’s decision, Panetta said host countries have the right to reject such military deployments.
“My understanding is that they felt that they could provide sufficient security to be able to protect our embassy and our personnel there,” said Panetta. “And you know, in many ways, as all of you know the primary responsibility for protecting embassies rests with the host country.”
Our response to Sudan’s rejection of an augmented security force was to close the embassy and order out family members and non-essential staff.
Clearly, the Obama administration has learned the lessons of Tehran, 1979. And they are probably willing to shed blood to prevent another hostage situation.
The question is: Will the security upgrade deter the fanatics from repeating what happened in Libya, or our other embassies where the US was humiliated by the replacement of our flag with al-Qaeda’s banner?
Making martyrs of them is exactly what they want. But so is chasing us out of the Middle East. It’s always better to let the local police and army handle the situation, but what happens when they stand aside as they did in Khartoum and Tunis?
Assurances from a government that is running a failed state or near failed state, as is the case in Sudan and Tunisia (as well as Yemen and Libya), ring hollow indeed. Let’s hope that the Marine’s rifles have bullets to shoot and that their aim is true — if it has to be.