Tunisia kamikaze

Attacks on US Embassies: Personal Vengeance or National Revolt?

Resentment, agony and the drive to push back efforts at global political and economic cooperation and integration. When a suicide bomber attacks, he or she comes without a warning. When there are major groups involved, the damage becomes catastrophic. Throughout history, the goal of terrorism has been to disrupt business as usual. Terrorism arises if one individual or a group is dissatisfied with the workings of another group, government or agenda. Similarly, it can also arise through the dislike of a particular motive or to prevent a stable future from progressing. Suicide attacks come in the form of fear and outrage, resulting in the deaths of innocent people.

Tunis in Lockdown as U.S. Embassy Attacked

A relatively familiar event unfolded in Tunisia’s capital on March 6, 2020. The target was the U.S. embassy, located in the upscale Berges du Lac II district in Tunis. As a result of the attack, 1 security personnel was killed while 5 others were injured. While no U.S. embassy personnel was harmed in the attack, it goes to show the dire situation Americans face abroad.

Who Is Responsible?

No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the previous incidents point a finger to ISIS, the terror group also known as Daesh. There are various likely reasons why this particular attack took place. Firstly, the political situation in Tunisia is at a very low point. One must not forget that this is the same place where the Arab Spring began. Locals continue to remain uneasy with the government’s policies and schemes. Although U.S. intervention in Tunisia is not as extensive as in other countries, the attack tells a tale of how some radicalized people in the country want to vent their frustration.

Another reason could be the influence of ISIS in the country. ISIS has frequently targeted American institutions and was waging a war against the U.S. in Syria until Turkey intervened alongside the U.S. to eliminate that threat. Some experts say this is a form of revenge for the caliphate’s defeat in Syria and in the wider region.

This isn’t the first time the U.S. embassy in Tunisia has been targeted. Previously in 2012, protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in the same place and set it on fire. The protests erupted over an obscene movie made by an American dishonoring the holy Prophet Muhammad. Times have changed but the anger remains, although in a very different context.

A Bloody History of Attacks on US Foreign Missions

The recent attack shows that the U.S. will be targeted no matter where its entities are. Some may target the U.S. for its adverse policies while others may see it interfering in unwanted ways in their countries. The threat is real but the solutions are far from ideal. No matter how protected an embassy or a government entity abroad is, it can always be targeted. The United States’ power as a hegemonic power is immense but what it must learn is to help and assist people in their countries rather than devise plans for the government which the locals might not approve of.

Let’s take a look at some other similar attacks which were carried out against the U.S. at foreign missions. If we go back in time, we can see that the first recorded attack took place in 1924 in former State of Per when an enraged mob beat American Consul Robert Imbrie to death in Tehran. The reason cited for the killing was that a Muslim group blamed the U.S. for poisoning a well. Following that incident, up until now, at least 53 incidents of such a nature have been recorded.

The majority of the cases have come from the Asian continent. The bulk of these attacks have taken place in Pakistan, a country where many militants, who entered from Afghanistan made their bases there despite strict security measures taken by the Pakistani government. In most of those cases either al-Qaeda or its affiliates were involved. The clear motive behind these attacks must be seen is the intervention of the U.S. in Afghanistan, which resulted in a backlash by terrorists against U.S. entities. Second on the list are Lebanon and Yemen, where a mix of Islamic jihadists and protesters were involved in attacks. The most recent and troubling one was when the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad was attacked on December 31, 2019. The incident led to increasing U.S. Iran tensions which almost led to a wider regional war.

Terrorist Attacks Continue on a Global Scale

The attacks are not just limited to the Asian continent, many other attacks for various reasons including public outrage, armed attacks and bombings have also taken place in Turkey, Portugal, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia Libya, Gabon, and Tunisia. While the list does not end there, one comes to realize the uniquely strong aggression that people have in their hearts for the United States. There have been shootings, bombings, mob attacks and armed assaults on either American personnel or their diplomatic compounds.

If we dwell deeper into this topic, we may see a pattern of events. Wherever the U.S. has interfered or intervened, it has faced opposition. The underlying fact behind this theory is that the United States may come into a country to offer assistance such as Afghanistan or Iraq but it ends up taking domestic issues into its own “American domain” and tries to solve problems through the American approach. No country in the world prefers external actors dominate their country or their region. The United States has both the financial means and the technical expertise for how to intervene and strategically place its ideology within a country’s borders, but winning hearts and minds is very difficult.

I believe that the best way to monitor potential threats would be increased vigilance and the need to better engage with those who have grievances. The U.S. is a superpower and with that comes the ability to mediate and initiate plans that would be suitable for all stakeholders involved. Some hatred is so deeply-embedded that it might take years to overcome such problems. However, if the underlying motives are pure, the United States can easily sit down and a build a future for everyone that can be full of peace and stability.