'The Innocence of Muslims' movie protests: Another Arab Spring on the cusp?
Protests in Yemen started in mid-January over calls to modify the Yemeni Constitution, as well as address economic and social issues that were plaguing the country. There were quickly calls for Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign. Saleh had held his role since 1990.
The Yemeni government under Saleh was overthrown on February 27, 2012—when Saleh stepped down and ceded power to his deputy, Abd Rabbuh Al-Hadi.
In the midst of the turmoil, there was an assassination attempt against Saleh, where he, and several other Yemeni officials were injured. He then left Yemen to seek medical treatment. Since that time, Saleh has seemingly stayed out of Yemeni public affairs. Al-Hadi remains in power in Yemen.
The incidents, rooted in the recent history that has shaken the region and the Western powers that are invested in the countries roiled by unrest, will continue to play a serious role in U.S. foreign policy. The immediacy and seriousness of the discussions surrounding the most recent events in the country serve as a show of how important the region is to U.S. policy.
The response to the protests this week quickly became campaign fodder between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Romney had made comments this week suggesting that Obama was weak and didn't react appropriately in condemnation of the attacks on the U.S. missions. He was criticized in some political and foreign policy circles for his response, but was backed up Thursday by Sen. John McCain, who said the president's "feckless foreign policy" has weakened America.
While Romney slowed his attacks on Obama on that one subject, he later said at an event in Virginia: "Why are you politicizing Libya?"
Obama responded to Romney's attacks on the diplomatic crisis by suggesting the Republican is reckless and untested as a world leader. Obama accused him of having "a tendency to shoot first and aim later."
Immediately following the first string of attacks on September 11, 2012, President Obama vowed that the United States would "work with the Libyan government to bring to justice" those who killed U.S. ambassador Stevens and the other staffers.
In remarks made from the White House, Obama said: “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence, none."
Since the attacks, Obama has made personal phone calls to: President Mohamed Magariaf of Libya, Egyptian President Morsi and Yemeni President Hadi, as well as a few other leaders in the region.
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