A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Abduction of ‘Ali Zeidan

President Obama frequently refers to the government shutdown by comparing it to hostage-taking, but here in Washington we have nor yet graduated to actual hostage-taking, like the temporary abduction earlier today of Libyan Prime Minister ‘Ali Zeidan. The kidnapping, apparently by a militia with policy differences with the Prime Minister, lasted only a few hours.

The details are still murky, but there is some speculation that this was in some way linked to protests against the US raid in Libya last weekend, which snatched al-Qa‘ida operative Abu Anas al-Libi. It is unclear whether the Libyan government was informed of the raid, which many see as an infringement of Libyan sovereignty. If so, it may be a reminder to the US that some of the old assumptions about our ability to carry out special operations in friendly countries with impunity may no longer be relied upon; in an era of political transition, governments are considerably more sensitive to public opinion than was the case under the old autocrats.

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