As most people know by now, US forces accidentally burned several copies of the Koran at the Bagram airbase. At first, it sounded like no big deal – it’s not strictly against Muslim law to burn the Koran, especially by a non-Muslim. In fact, the Koran is very generous about allowing such accidents to happen. But Afghanis have almost unanimously seized on the story as a symbol of disrespect and riots have broken out in the city.
It’s so sad that in just over ten years since the Bonn Agreement in 2001, relations between America and Afghanistan have deteriorated to the point that this small event could set off such a firestorm. Perhaps some of the youngsters will remember that when America invaded Afghanistan, they were welcomed by the people. After decades of war with the Soviets, followed by a short period of self-rule that was quickly replaced by the Taliban’s reign of terror, the Afghans were exhausted. The Northern Alliance, led by the legendary Tajik commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, was the only viable resistance, and its leader was suicide bombed the day before 9/11. Thus, when the Americans arrived, they were grateful, and hopeful.
Now, after eleven and a half years of occupation, the Afghans have found they prefer the enemy they know. Currently, the Taliban is just as strong, if not stronger than it was. Karzai’s government has proved corrupt and ineffective, encouraging opposition and strengthening the Taliban. And the Americans, obviously, have pissed everyone off. Today, two American officers were found dead in their office with gunshot wounds to the head. The Taliban has claimed credit for the attack, but other sources say suspects include Afghan government officials.
I had no idea the situation on the ground was as bad as all this, but it makes you wonder WTF America is doing over there. President Bush said it was to secure Afghan democracy, but the presence of subcontractors in Afghanistan since the beginning has made it clear that we were after much more than just democracy. Afghanistan is not only strategically located for the US the keep an eye on its next door neighbor Pakistan; perhaps most importantly, it is an oil rich state that the US has wanted to pipeline for years.
Once again the charade of good relations has given way and Americans are left wondering why we are over there spending money and risking lives, when their hatred for us is only growing over time. I was all for the initial intervention, but now I’m not so sure…