FROM Philip Wilcox
American Embassies Become Targets of Muslim Mobs The scene turned violent after Friday prayers today and angry protesters attacked US outposts from the Middle East and Africa to Afghanistan and Pakistan, apparently inflamed by the crude insults to their religion in the video, The Innocence of Muslims. In Yemen, the American embassy was breached by an unarmed mob reportedly allowed in by local security forces; US Marines have been sent to the scene. Do the attacks result from the "Arab Spring?" Are US facilities adequately protected against a new wave of anti-Americanism?
Risky Travel and Government to the Rescue Is still not clear what Laura Ling and Euna Lee did at the Chinese border with North Korea. We don’t know what three other Americans were up to in remote Kurdistan, but they’re now in custody, accused of illegally crossing into Iran. Such incidents are increasingly common , which means multiple headaches for US diplomats.
Dangerous Assignments, Risky Travel and Government to the Rescue Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been freed from North Korea , but three other Americans are still being detained for crossing from remote Kurdistan into Iran. These are only the latest in a series of international incidents created by American citizens accused of entering forbidden zones, creating multiple headaches for US diplomats. Are foreign governments justified in suspecting they might be spies? Do both tourists and journalists have an obligation to stay out of trouble? Should the US government always come to the rescue, whatever the diplomatic trade-offs might be?
And the Walls Coming Tumbling Down in Gaza Early this morning, there were 17 explosions along the nine-mile border fence between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. As large portions of the fence went down, tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed to the Egyptian town of Rafah for food, fuel and other supplies. People in cars, donkey carts and on foot rushed to buy food, fuel and other supplies denied for weeks by an Israeli blockade designed to stop rocket attacks. We hear how the fence went down and what it's been like at the border. Is it a propaganda coup for Hamas? A defeat for Fatah? What does it reveal about Israeli security and Egypt's obligation to maintain the border?
What Next for US Policy on the Middle East? Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived at the White House today as James Baker's so-called Iraq Study Group has been meeting with the foreign policy team. It's believed that Baker and new Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates favor negotiations with Iran. British Prime Minister Tony Blair will address the Iraq Study Group tomorrow. Meantime, Democratic leaders want a phased withdrawal from Iraq, and there's pressure from several directions for talks with Syria. All this as the Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, are putting together a unity government. President Bush is embracing advisors who served his father. Will they push diplomacy rather than confrontation? Is there any chance of a weakened US commitment to Israel?
Nationalism's appeal on both sides of the Atlantic Nationalism, Populism, concerns about immigration and outright racism are part of election campaigns from the US to Europe. We hear how today's election in Holland reflects the recent past and may forecast the future.
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.