Can the United States defuse the Koran burning uproar in Afghanistan?

February 24, 2012

(Afghan men stand near tyres, set on fire by the protesters, during a demonstration in Jalalabad province February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Parwiz)

After a third day of bloody protests over the burning of the Koran, there is a sense that America is lurching from one image crisis to the next in Afghanistan, with no clear path for U.S. officials to defuse the latest uproar.

President Barack Obama apologized on Thursday for the burning of copies of the Koran on a U.S. base in Afghanistan, an incident that has triggered far more outcry than another shocking incident: the emergence of a video last month showing Marines urinating on the corpses of what appear to be dead Taliban fighters.

Obama’s apology over the Koran burning has been accompanied by other steps by the U.S. military meant to show remorse over what it sees as a tragic blunder. The Pentagon detailed new outreach to Muslim leaders, and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has promised training on the proper handling of religious materials as well as a swift investigation.

But analysts are doubtful more can be done to calm Afghans incensed by the destruction of Islam’s holy book.

Instead, outrage in Afghanistan may have to simply run its course, leaving America to grapple with any fallout on its delicate campaign to foster reconciliation and forge a long-term security agreement with Afghanistan.

“The U.S. has pretty much done all it can do,” said Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation think-tank. “To a certain degree, all (the U.S.) can do now is wait for tempers to cool.”

See also:

Afghanistan braces for fourth day of Koran protests

Afghanistan demands NATO put Koran-burners on trial

Obama apologizes for Koran burning in Afghanistan

Afghan laborer recalls rage as he tried to save charred Korans

Afghanistan’s Karzai says US officer burned Korans

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It’s not like this is news: The officers in Afghanistan should have been perfectly and absolutely aware of the potential fallout. Someone might get court-martialed for this.

Posted by Burns0011 | Report as abusive

They will continue in their Islamic killing spree, because they know we will eventually knuckle under and give them what they want. We have weak leadership right now, and the islamists will take full advantage of it.

Posted by tnourie | Report as abusive

The U.S. soldiers who did this should be tried for treason. They deliberately set out to undermine both the war policy and the security of the United States.

Posted by RobinInSanDiego | Report as abusive