Violent protests challenge recovery of Libya and Egypt
The United States has dispatched two warships and a marine unit to bulk up protection in Libya after violent protests in the country.
An attack on the US embassy in Benghazi mid-week killed four staff members, including ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Senior officials in President Barack Obama's administration say a 50-member marine unit from the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team is being flown from its base in Europe and that two warships, USS Laboon and USS McFaul, are being redeployed to the Libyan coast.
Mr Obama condemned the attack and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. His condemnation has been echoed in the European Union and Russia.
The Libyan consulate attack is one in a string of recent, ongoing violent protests, so far isolated to majority Muslim countries, a reaction to a controversial US-made anti-Islam short film.
Large demonstrations in Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories have turned violent. Other demonstrations are being planned in Zambia, Malaysia, India, Sudan, Kuwait and Indonesia.
The controversial film reportedly insults Muslim prophet Mohammed and has angered Salafist groups throughout the Arab world.
Created by an Israeli-American director, it was supported by the controversial Florida-based Christian pastor Terry Jones.
The protests reflect the response in 2005 to the Danish cartoons featuring Mohammed. Those protests killed sevarl people.
The Libyan demonstrations are important because of who conducted them. And the relatively peaceful protests in Egypt will test President Mohammad Morsi’s new government just as much as his Libyan counterparts in Tripoli.
Benghazi is a strong Salafist city in the East of Libya and during last year’s unrest it was the heart of the anti-Gadhafi movement.
Some 700 dusty kilometres away in tTripoli the country’s national congress choose Mustafa Abu Shagour, the current deputy prime minister, as the country's next prime minister.
Abu Shagour beat former Libyan National Transitional Council foreign affairs chief Mahmoud Jibril by just two votes.
The attack in Benghazi will raise serious questions for the new government in Tripoli.
The country is struggling to unify the disparate and belligerent tribes that patchwork the nation. A growing jihadist presence in Benghazi has not been contained and may serve to strike deeper divisions in the war-torn country.
While the Middle East and North Africa is experiencing unprecedented civil upheavals, their move toward democracy has not been straightforward.
The Islamic parties coming to power from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are trying to balance a new-found freedom of speech and a conservative interpretation of Islamic beliefs.
If the violent protests continue to spread across the region it may undermine attempts to rebuild struggling economies. The unrest of the Arab Spring has not cooled in many areas and stability is tenuous at best.
The attack on the US embassy raises questions about how well protected staff really was. The assailants reportedly entered the compound easily and moved unimpeded from building to building.
The extra military muscle will likely deter any follow-up attacks in Libya but a serious review of embassy security will likely be under way in Washington.
Many governments have issued travel warnings to the Middle East and other majority Islamic countries.
Nathan Smith has a Bachelor of Communications in Journalism from Massey University and has studied international relations and conflict