United States of America – The US stated that it was to lock down all of its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world commencing on the 4 Aug 13 after receiving an unsuspecting threat against a US embassy or consulate. The decision was taken as a precautionary action with an assessment being carried out after but could be aimed for the end of Ramadan. This coincides with a travel warning to all US citizens who are travelling in that area of the globe and will be lifted at the end of August. The travel warning alert announced and warned of, “the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure”. Areas with embassies and consulates that will be closed were the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia including offices in Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The last attack on an American embassy was on the 11 Sep 12 in Benghazi, Libya by heavily armed militias thought to have been Islamist militants. The worst attacks came in Africa on the 7 Aug 1998 when the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya were attacked simultaneously with truck bombs. The attacks were thought to have been carried out by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad which bought Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri to the attention of the American authorities. The date of the attack was the eighth anniversary for the arrival of American forces in Saudi Arabia. There was no specific information regarding this current threat and warning. However, it must be a wide threat to close so many establishments throughout the world and possible the anniversary for a significant date or event. Although the terrorists will know the target they intend to attack the chances are so do the US. By closing all its facilities it is possible that they are hiding a particular source of information. By closing one location the source can be detected but by closing all you protect. The terrorist attack has a limited window hence why they closed the embassies and consulates for a short period. The threat appears to be twofold; one is on the embassies and consulates and the second is aimed towards US tourists and citizens who are visiting and living in those areas.
On the 1 Aug 13 the White House expressed disappointment for Russia’s decision to grant the former CIA member Edward Snowden who is accused of leaking government secrets, asylum. In a statement they said, “We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step, despite our very clear and lawful requests, in public and in private, to have Mr Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him.” Although the two countries will continue with diplomatic ties it is possible that the Americans will exact revenge in another way one of which could be to assist those that are against the current Syrian regime which would annoy the Russians who strongly defend President Assad.
In another report on the 1 Aug 13 the United States issued a statement regarding a ‘strategic dialogue’ with Pakistan over security issues. This will be in response to the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Pakistan has areas in the north of the country and bordering Afghanistan with strong militant factions. By opening a dialogue with Pakistan it would be able to share a greater knowledge with the country on the terrorist threat and those residing in those areas offering assistance where and when required. Although Pakistan has for a long time expressed its desire for the US to cease drone attacks in its country and may act as an important feature in any negotiations. However, with the Afghan draw down soon to take effect the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban may join forces and coordinate attacks in Pakistan once the withdrawal is finished. The Americans and its NATO allies must realise this and have started security and intelligence talks so that there can be continuity once the Afghan campaign has finished.