US deploying soldiers amid film protests

US deploying soldiers amid film protests

US deploying soldiers amid film protests

A group of protesters burn and step on a US flag during a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Ankara against an anti-Islam film. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Washington is deploying forces to cope with unrest as global violence over a U.S.-made film mocking Islam spreads to as many as 18 places across the Muslim world while also ordering non-essential diplomatic staff to leave Sudan and Tunisia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon had “deployed our forces to a number of areas in the region to be prepared to respond to any requests that we receive to be able to protect our personnel and our American property.” “There continue to be some demonstrations but it would appear that there is some levelling off on the violence that we thought might take place,” Panetta told reporters on his plane en route to Asia on Sept. 15. “I suspect that ... these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer.”

Libya arrests 50 in probe into US ambassador’s death

Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed on Sept. 11 along with three other Americans, as violent protesters stormed the consulate in Benghazi. After the attack, Libyan authorities arrested about 50 people, Libya’s parliamentary head Mohammed al-Megaryef said yesterday, accusing foreigners of planning the attack.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters yesterday set fire to a U.S. flag before ending their protest peacefully near the U.S. embassy in Ankara. A second group of some 50 protesters from the Workers’ Party shouted slogans “Yankee go home” and “America the Murderer, Get out of the Middle East, Get out of Turkey.”Hundreds of students poured into the streets of Kabul yesterday shouting anti-U.S. slogans. In Australia, six police officers and a number of protesters were injured after several hundred protesters turned violent in central Sydney on Sept. 15.

The Pentagon dispatched elite Marine rapid response teams to Libya and Yemen, but a team deployed to Khartoum on Sept. 14 was turned back when the Sudanese government objected. The U.S. Navy also moved two warships to positions off the coast of Libya.

The State Department, however, ordered non-essential diplomatic staff and their families to leave Sudan and Tunisia. It also urged U.S. citizens in Tunisia to leave the country.

Germany has also decided to scale down staff numbers at its embassy in Sudan after the mission was attacked.

In the meantime, al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), praised the killing of the U.S. ambassador on Sept. 15 without claiming direct responsibility. It said the killing of al-Qaeda deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi in a June drone strike in Pakistan increased the enthusiasm to take revenge on the U.S. for the anti-Islam film.

The U.S. federal authorities questioned early on Sept. 15 the alleged brains behind the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old filmmaker in California. The protests were set off by a low-budget, crudely produced film called “The Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays the Prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

FM Davutoğlu calls Clinton

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Sept. 15 called his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to offer his condolences for the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other American officials in an armed attack by protesters on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Sept. 11.

The two also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East in their phone conversation, diplomatic sources said.

The conversation took place after the White House said late on Sept. 14 that President Barack Obama asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to speak out against anti-American attacks in Arab countries and the YouTube movie that sparked them.