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