Gist of this piece: It is still at the early stage of ‘Post-revolution’ - and what’s really taking place under these mob protest phenomenons are challenges from more radical, more extreme types against (*relative) moderates in the power.
Unfortunately, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 is an apt parallel. That was the work of a group of extremist Iranian “students” who were unhappy that the post-revolutionary government of Ayatollah Khomeini wasn’t proving radical enough. They captured the revolution when they seized the embassy. The lesson of that disaster is that local security authorities must quickly restore order — and if they can’t or won’t, then Americans must move out of harm’s way.
Also worrisome is the link between Salafists (whose posters worryingly appear in Cairo neighborhoods near Heliopolis that are populated by members of the military) and the more violent “takfiri” wing, which believes it’s permissible to kill apostate Muslims and has links with al-Qaeda. The takfiris hate the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, if that’s any consolation.
The delicate political balance in Egypt and Libya makes the blunderbuss campaign rhetoric of Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, especially unfortunate. His comments make this crisis more “about America” than it needs to be.
Let’s return to the main trigger for these events: It’s the success of the tolerably non-extremist (I won’t say “moderate”) governments in Egypt and Libya in consolidating power, and the anger of the more radical Salafists at this success. Morsi, for example, has just won pledges of billions in financial support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Gulf Arabs are making a bet that over the next year, Morsi can stabilize Egypt and get the economy moving again. Despite Tuesday’s tragic events, the United States should make the same bet.