Harrowing video of the riot at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa

Videos and images from the storming of the U.S. embassy in Yemen's capital are circulating on social media sites. It's not pretty. The images show an unruly mob storming through streets and over gates, bashing and burning everything they find. Only one clip shows a security guard, and it is unclear if the is gunfire is celebratory or an impotent warning to the rioters. An embassy spokesman has reported that all personnel are "safe and accounted for," but it is clear that there will be a lot of cleaning up to do.

This video was uploaded by a YouTube account run by a youth organization that participated in the popular uprising against Ali Abdullah Saleh.

  • 0:22: A man with a pickaxe tries to break through what appears to be bulletproof glass windows.
  • 0:33: Torched diplomatic SUVs are seen in flames.
  • 0:48: Someone crashes an SUV and protesters proceed to bash in the windows.

The Associated Press has posted video as well.

  • 0:10: Rioters break down the gates of the embassy compound.
  • 0:25: There is footage of rioters raising a white flag emblazoned with the shehada on embassy's flagpole.
  • 0:47: Black smoke billows from the compound from tire fires and torched cars.
  • 0:54: A security guard swivels a large caliber machine gun across the crowd, then fires rounds over peoples' heads.

Eventually, rioters broke in and looted the embassy building:



A tale of two statements

My colleague Marc Lynch argued earlier today: "Today will be a pivotal moment in the urgent debates about how such movements will respond to political power and a stake in the political system."

"Libya's leaders thus far look to be passing that test," he writes. "Egypt's do not."

At the time, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy had yet to issue a statement. Now that he finally has, how does it measure up?

Here is the statement of Mustafa Abushagur, issued before he was voted in as Libya's new prime minister:

Ambassador Chris Stevens was a dear friend of mine, and of Libya, and played a key role in helping our revolution. He was in Benghazi throughout the revolution and was very instrumental in its support. The men and women serving at the United States Consulate were allies in our shared fight for freedom and democracy. I am shocked at the attacks on the United States Consulate in Benghazi. I condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere.

There is never any justification for this type of action. There must and will be consequences. Those who were involved at all levels must be found and punished. These actions run counter to the very foundations of free Libya, of democracy, and of Islam. They are reprehensible.

Our revolution is not complete simply because Gaddafi is gone. Our revolution will be complete when our state institutions are strong, when heavy arms are in the hands of only the government and when our streets are safe to all - both to Libyans and to our honored guests. The government cannot do this alone - I call on all true Libyans to hand in their weapons, and to work together to make a better Libya for all. Our shared security is the bedrock of our freedom. This kind of shameful behavior - mobs using force on their own accord - cannot happen again, no matter the target or motivation.

My deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those unjustly lost last night, and to all Americans.

And here is Morsy's statement, posted on Facebook (thanks to Jason Stern for the translation):

The presidency denounces in the strongest terms the attempt to insult the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and condemns the people who produced this extreme action. The Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians, reject this insult against the sacred.

The presidency also emphasizes that the Egyptian state is responsible for the protection of private and public properties and thereby the diplomatic missions and embassies of different countries.

It also affirms the protection and respect for the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest within the confines of the law while firmly opposing any irresponsible attempt to create lawlessness.

The president and the embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the United States have commissioned the undertaking of all possible, legal actions to respond to these individuals who seek the sabotage the relations and dialogue between peoples and nations.

Not a lot of warmth there, and Morsy clearly cares more about the film that served as the pretext for the riots than he does about the embassy breach. So does Egypt fail Marc's test?