The past week was characterized by what some called the new Middle East crisis; a controversy involving an amateurish anti-Islamic film, directed by a Coptic-American, that sparked violent protests across the region. In Libya, the American ambassador and three officials lost their lives when the US consulate was stormed by Islamists.
Hillary Clinton refuted the film and called it “disgusting”, but at the same time tried to convince Muslims around the world that it had nothing to do with America. Yet, her calls seemed in vain and experts noted that Washington was powerless in the matter.
Just a few days prior to the escalation of the crisis, Egyptian President Morsi went for his first visit to Europe as head of state. His main goal was to seek increased EU aid for Egypt’s beleaguered economy. His prime minister followed a similar strategy when he urged a major delegation of over 100 American businessmen to invest in the country.
In Iran, sanctions continue to bite hard as the rial slid to a new record low. The central bank said it was trying to manage the plunge amid an “economic war with the world.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted the democratic countries of the world to come together and draw a “clear red line” vis-á-vis Iran. Reports surfaced over deepening tensions between Israel and the US as Barack Obama had supposedly neglected to receive Netanyahu at the White House, claims that were eventually denied by Washington.
In Kuwait, the political scene started to wobble as demonstrators rallied in front of the parliament demanding the election of a new prime minister from outside the ruling Al-Sabah family.
The Pope arrived in Lebanon on Friday, calling for reconciliation between Muslims and Christians across the Middle East. The religious leader of more than one billion Christians hoped that Lebanon would serve as an example in the future.
In Syria, rebels continued to welcome a steady stream of army defectors, causing major problems for the regime. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Assad is “doomed” and should not survive. But the hardship goes on and the latest UN report says that over 250,000 Syrians have now fled the country.