US President Barack Obama has called Libyan and Egyptian presidents, urging their cooperation in containing persistent anti-American protests in the two North African states. The White House announced Wednesday that in a telephone conversation between Obama and his Libyan counterpart President Mohamed Magarief, the two agreed to work closely in probing the fatal attack on the American consulate in Benghazi following the release of an insulting US-made film against Islam’s highly-revered Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). American Ambassador to Libya along with three other US citizens working at the diplomatic compound were killed in the Benghazi attack.
Obama also held a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi regarding the anti-US protests in that country and reportedly said that Egypt “must cooperate with the United States in securing US diplomatic facilities and personnel,” according to a White House statement.The development also comes as Obama described Egypt as not a US ally in a Wednesday interview with an American TV network. “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” Obama said in an interview with US-based, NBC-affiliate Spanish language broadcast network Telemundo. The remarks by the US president about a former chief American and Israeli ally in the Middle came after huge crowds of Egyptian demonstrators gathered around the US Embassy in the capital Cairo on Tuesday to protest the release of a cheap movie against Islam, reportedly produced and promoted by US-based Coptic Christians. Egyptian protesters tore down the American flag at the Embassy and voiced anger against repeated US-based efforts to promote Islamophobia and openly insult Muslims across the world. Meanwhile, American authorities have been quoted in press reports as saying that the US military is moving a couple of destroyers toward the Libyan coast in efforts to offer the administration the option of any future attack against potential Libyan targets. Additionally, the US military is reportedly dispatching an “anti-terrorist” Marine security unit to Libya to boost security in the country, while ordering the evacuation of all American diplomatic personnel out of the capital Tripoli as well as Benghazi. Elsewhere in the region, police fired teargas at angry protesters outside the US Embassy in Tunisia while several hundred demonstrators gathered at the US Embassy compound in Sudan. Further in Morocco, protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the American consulate in Casablanca. MFB/JR