Globe Trot 09.19

Middle East
by Mindy Belz
Posted 9/19/12, 11:45 am

The State Department has reversed itself, admitting on Tuesday that it did hire a private British security firm to handle security inside the American mission in Benghazi attacked on Sept. 11. Spokesman Victoria Nuland had denied it when asked on Friday: "At no time did we plan to hire a private security company for Libya."

According to Breitbart (which has filed an Freedom of Information Act request on the contract), "Blue Mountain Group was chosen by State, in part, because it was willing to accept the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya that prohibited security guards at Benghazi from carrying weapons that contained bullets."

Next up: Lawmakers are likely to ask a lot of questions about a debt relief package for Egypt, after the new Egyptian government responded so feebly last week to the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. But the State Department denies (Nuland again) a Washington Post report that talks had stalled over absolving $1 billion in Egyptian debt.

It's hard to understand the State Department not taking more precautions in view of growing Salafist threat, given reports likethis from August by U.S. Institute of Peace Fellow Robin Wright.

President Obama expects "full cooperation" from Muslims to keep Americans safe. "The message we have to send to the Muslim world is we expect you to work with us to keep our people safe," Obama said during a taped interview with CBS's David Letterman in New York. "We expect their full cooperation because that's the only way the world works."

Muslim protests today have closed a U.S. consulate in Indonesia and have blocked roads leading to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Protests continue in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Films competing in Egypt's Alexandria Film Festival don't seem so far afield from Innocence of Muslims. In fact, watched any Egyptian television lately?

NPR talks to Salman Rushdie in light of recent violence in the Muslim world and his newly published memoir, Joseph Anton. Of Satanic Verses, the novel that earned Rushdie an unexpired fatwa in 1988, he said, "My purpose was not to write only about Islam; it was to talk about the nature of revelation, and also to suggest that when a big, new idea comes into the world, it must answer two challenges: One is the challenge of how do you behave when you're weak? And the other, how do you behave when you're strong?"

An outbreak of Ebola has killed 32 in the Democratic Republic of Congo since May, according to the World Health Organization, andcontinues to spread despite health workers' efforts.

The United States is on track for the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in the 13 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A medical workers' strike in Kenya, now in its sixth day, is blamed for seven deaths at one teaching hospital. Doctors and nurses say they want improved hospital conditions and better equipment in order to resume their positions. The strike is hitting hard missionary doctors who are filling in for public health workers, reports one physician with World Harvest Mission.

Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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