Ty McCormick: Why the Embassy Attacks Aren't 1979 All Over Again





Ty McCormick is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy

Americans could be forgiven this week for having an awful feeling of déjà vu. On the anniversary of 9/11, Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, tore down the American flag, and replaced it with a black one that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to al Qaeda's trademark pennant. "Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas," chanted the mix of ultraconservative Salafi Muslims and soccer hooligans, known as "ultras," who claimed to be protesting a U.S.-made film that insults the Prophet Mohammed.
 
A little less than 700 miles to the west, Libyan militants who claimed to be equally incensed by the film -- allegedly produced by an obscure Israeli-American filmmaker who is now in hiding -- overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and set it ablaze. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in a rocket attack on their vehicle as they attempted to flee the compound, according the Washington Post's version of the story. It was the first killing of a U.S. ambassador since 1979, when Adolf Dubs was kidnapped and shot by radical militiamen in a Kabul hotel.
 
Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the subsequent rise of Islamists across much of the Middle East, Tuesday's events can't help but call to mind the outpouring of anti-American sentiment of that earlier era...


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