A compound housing militants connected to last week’s deadly attack on a US consulate was stormed by Libyan protesters on Friday. Hundreds of protesters attacked the compound held by the Ansar al-Shariah Brigade. After attempting to disperse the crowd with gunfire into the air, the militants abandoned the post. The protesters promptly set fire to the building.
The incident was just the latest in a stand that ordinary Libyans are taking against the armed militias that permeate the country. Previously, tens of thousands marched in the streets of Benghazi, protesting the actions of the militants against the US consulate. US ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in that attack. Stevens had been in Libya since the revolution that ousted former dictator Moammar Ghaddify, and was viewed as a friend of the Libyan people.
The scene in Libya is a far cry from the one playing out in the rest of the Muslim world. Massive protests in Pakistan led to dozens of deaths. Though the chaos has come down since its peak last weak, anger still resonates throughout the middle east over a video posted on Youtube by an American citizen that insults the prophet Mohammed.
The Libyan government was quick to apologize following the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Their actions, coupled with those of the Libyan people, show we might have a solid new ally in the middle east. Our relationships in the region have been changing over the past few years. Our ties with Pakistan have been frayed ever since it was discovered that Osama Bin Laden was living in the middle of the country within shouting distance of a major military city. Our relationship with Egypt has altered since long time dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed.
The latest developments in Libya are all the proof we need that promoting and supporting democracy should be the center piece of our foreign policy. Some were beginning to question that idea after the Palestinians elected Hamas to power, and Egypt voted in the Muslim Brotherhood. Every election is not going to go the way we want it to, but we will be better off in the long run if the people of the middle east are free to choose their own government. Part of the reason they despise America is because we have supported many ruthless dictators in the region in the past. Democracy should be our number one export going forward.