President Obama, speaking here in a conference with the Yemeni president, may have to contend with an al-Qaeda based threat on his birthday Sunday. (Source: Reuters)
One would think that Barack Obama would have at least some chance at a decent birthday, which is this upcoming Sunday. The type where he would relax with his family, probably out in Hawaii, enjoy the surf and random press photos. It would make sense to believe this anyway: August is usually a quiet month in the West, given its late summer and a general lull has settled in. Some countries, like France, use this period to take the entire month off. Most people go on vacation around this time. It is not unusual to suggest that President Obama take it easy on this particular birthday weekend.
Unfortunately, that will not be the case for President Obama this birthday. The State Department today announced a travel alert worldwide on news of increased militant activity. The activity and communications increased followed Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which occured Wednesday. Consequently, the State Department will be closing the American embassies in Libya, Iraq, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries on Sunday. The travel alert also indicates unsafe travel for Americans in key areas of the Middle East, northern Africa, and central Asia over the weekend, based on what the State Department deems a terrorist threat likely to be enacted Sunday. While the State Department declined to indicate the source of the threat, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) told CNN the source was al-Qaeda based from groups in the Middle East and central Asia.
While the situation may turn out to be nothing, the State Department still issued the alert out of concern for fellow travelers. It also did so in the aftermath of an attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya last year that killed the American ambassador there and three others. Still, this has got to be an annoying birthday for President Obama, especially given what he has had to contend with in recent days, especially with leaks from the NSA regarding terrorism-related spying practices and a tepid jobs report. In any event, expect a quiet, if slightly tedious, weekend if you're traveling to those places, especially if you're going on a vacation yourself.