Bagram Airfield, a military housing complex for the US Army, is home ground for not only much ancient lore, but also the breeding ground for the latest controversy in the US. It has been observed that things get only murkier when religion is one of the topics of discussion, be it independently or present along with other sensitive topics like war, racism and the like. The recent protests in Afghanistan against the US are the greatest recent example.
The protests began due to the burning of the Holy Quran, which was brought to forth by the Afghan rag-pickers, who found the defaced copies of the book near the military base. What followed was a sling of protests in the Islamic country. The Qurans were burned due to some ‘extremely radical opinions quoted in the books’. The riots have claimed lives of total 23 people reportedly, including three US Officers. The Taliban later took responsibility of the deaths of 4 high-ranked US officials, claiming that an operative was assisted into the ISAF area by an Afghan. On the 26th, protests in the northern Kunduz region took a nasty turn due to the inclusion of knives, slingshot and grenade for attack which resulted in the slaughter of a protester as well as an official, while injuring many others. On 27th, the region of Jalalabad was witness to a gruesome suicide bombing attack involving a car blast the airport entrance, which increased the death toll by 9 more while leaving 12 more injured.
Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing attack as an act of revenge for ‘burning of the holy book’. Apart from that, they encouraged fellow Afghans to act against this supreme insult.
The statement issued said “You should bring the invading forces military bases under your brave attack, their military convoys, kill them, capture them, beat them, and teach them a lesson that they will never again dare to insult the Holy Koran”. New reports, in fact, reveal that the Taliban is being directly aided by Pakistan.
The ISAF commander, although, claims that the situation is under control and requests US citizens to maintain calm. Commander John R Allen comments “When we learned of this action, we immediately intervened and stopped them. We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you — I promise you — this was not intentional in any way”.
Meanwhile, the Afghan President also requests the world at large to remain calm and requests the ISAF officials to turn over the Bagram prison to Afghan authorities, to avoid such situations as soon as possible. A more radical member of Afghanistan, however, claims that Americans are invaders and calls on the mullahs and religious leaders to urge Afghan people to wage jihad against the Americans.
Obama, on the other hand, is another buzzword in the riot-torn Afghanistan. Although the leader has penned a 3-page apology letter to Mr. Hamid Karzai, Afghan president, his name is continues to be targeted in the anti-US protests. Critics have now questioned the judgment behind his action.
Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest, in fact, says “Obama’s announcement of a planned speedy withdrawal helped create this mess. The president essentially told America’s enemies that we are “on the brink of psychological, if not military, defeat,” which only emboldened them. The least bad option left is to rescind the commitment to withdraw and hunker down for an indefinite stay, letting rivals in Afghanistan, Iran, and elsewhere know that the U.S. doesn’t ‘fold.’