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Hot spots to watch around the Middle East

U.S. embassies across the world ramped up security Thursday as Muslims angry over an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. mission in Yemen and clashed with police near the American mission in Cairo. President Barack Obama ordered increased security at U.S. sites worldwide. In the coming days, here are some key nations, and the organizations or individuals who may incite more violence.

Egypt

The protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo cast a new spotlight on U.S. relations with Egypt, a recipient of $1.3 billion annually in military aid. Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who had been slow to speak out on Tuesday's assault on the embassy, promised Thursday that his government would not allow attacks on diplomatic missions. Morsi was quoted Thursday as saying the attacks on U.S. personnel were unacceptable, in an apparent effort to defuse the tension in Egypt. But he also warned against maligning Islam's founding prophet, Mohammed. "The prophet Mohammed and Islamic sanctities are red lines for all of us."

Major influence: The Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi came from the Brotherhood's ranks and was elected after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last year.

Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzi canceled an official visit to Norway amid concerns over the Mideast riots Thursday. Karzai also talked to President Barack Obama and expressed his condolences for the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. Karzai has condemned the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims as "inhuman and insulting" and made by "extremists." In Kabul, Australian Army Brig. Gen. Roger Noble of the U.S.-led military coalition said Thursday that NATO has warned the international forces over the film. The alliance has also sought to deflect the potential for violence in Afghanistan because of the film.

Major influences: The Taliban. Leaders have called on their fighters to get revenge for the film by increasing attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Iraq

A Shiite militant group threatened U.S. interests in Iraq on Thursday as part of the backlash over the anti-Islam film it described as "heinous." A leading Iraqi lawmaker also called on Washington to punish the filmmakers. But Ali al-Alak, the Shiite head of Parliament's religious committee, urged Muslims worldwide to use "wise methods" in responding to it instead of turning to violence like the kind this week that killed four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains the world's largest American diplomatic mission, with an estimated 15,000 employees.

Major influences: Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left, demanded the closure of the U.S. Embassy; Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or Band of the People of Righteousness, led deadly attacks against U.S. troops before the American military withdrew from the country last year.

Yemen

Yemen is home to al-Qaida's most active branch and the United States is the main foreign supporter of the Yemeni government's counterterrorism campaign. The government on Tuesday announced that al-Qaida's No. 2 leader in Yemen was killed in an apparent U.S. airstrike, a major blow to the terror network.

Major influences: Al-Qaida; Muslim cleric Abdul Majid al-Zindani, left, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was named a "specially designated global terrorist" by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2004. Sana residents said on Thursday that he urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt.

Hot spots to watch around the Middle East 09/13/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012 11:06pm]
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