February 23rd, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Roundup: Deadly Afghan protests over Quran burnings

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated on Thursday for the third consecutive day against the burning of Qurans at the U.S.-run Bagram Air Base (NYT) north of Kabul. The protests today left at least six Afghans dead and fifty-five wounded after clashes with Afghan and NATO security forces. A man dressed in an Afghan military uniform fired on coalition forces, killing two NATO soldiers. Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on protesters to keep demonstrations non-violent, even as some members of parliament urged Afghans to take up arms against U.S. "invaders." Meanwhile, President Barack Obama apologized for the Quran burnings in a letter to Karzai.

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Analysis

"Maybe we know that we're not there as crusaders or to wage war on Islam. But as long as we are there, a bag of books sent to a dumpster by mistake can make for a very big fire. (Non-symbolic, and unfixable disasters, like the killing of children in a drone strike, do so even more.) We keep saying that we are in Afghanistan to help. Burning a Quran isn't helping," writes the New Yorker's Amy Davidson.

"In the West, we bend over backwards to express cultural sensitivities that the most hardened of Muslim militants or the most ordinary of Muslims don't even practice. When militants firebomb mosques and plant suicide bombers in mosque congregations, they don't apologize for the Qurans that burn and smolder in the aftermath of their attacks," writes Asra Q. Nomani at the Daily Beast.

PACIFIC RIM

North Korea, U.S. Reopen Nuclear Talks

U.S. and North Korean diplomats met in Beijing for "exploratory talks" (Yonhap) over North Korea's nuclear weapons program–the first since the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-il in December–to pave the way toward the resumption of official six-party negotiations.

In the CFR blog "Asia Unbound," Scott Snyder outlines what to expect from the latest round of U.S.-North Korea talks.

AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Julia Gillard called for a Labor party leadership ballot (Australian) a day after Kevin Rudd, whom Gillard ousted as prime minister in June 2010, resigned as her foreign minister on a trip to Washington.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Deadly Car Bombing in Northern Pakistan

A car bomb exploded at a bus stop in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, killing twelve people and injuring at least thirty-two (AFP). Police are investigating whether a suicide bomber was involved in the attack.

MIDDLE EAST

Deadly Attacks Across Iraq

A series of coordinated bombings and shootings in Baghdad and eleven other Iraqi cities killed 50 people and wounded at least 225 (WSJ). Al-Qaeda militants are considered responsible for the attacks.

SYRIA: A United Nations panel drew up a list of Syrian government officials and army officers deemed responsible for human rights violations (BBC) in the Syrian regime's nearly year-long crackdown on anti-government protesters, even as forces continued a deadly assault on the city of Homs.

As the debate over intervention or arming the opposition grows amid continuing violence in Syria, four CFR experts offer their recommendations on how Washington should respond to the crisis in this Expert Roundup.

AFRICA

Britain Hosts International Conference on Somalia

World leaders and diplomats are meeting in London today to discuss international efforts to combat terrorism, piracy, and famine (al-Jazeera) in war-torn Somalia. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the establishment of a stable central government in Mogadishu.

SOUTH SUDAN: The Chinese foreign ministry called on the South Sudanese government and Chinese oil firms to "put an end to misunderstandings" (Reuters). Juba, which accuses Chinese firms of helping Sudan steal its oil, expelled the head of Chinese-Malaysian oil consortium Petrodar earlier this week.

China has increased its economic ties with Africa as it seeks to fulfill its growing energy demands. But China's way of doing business has prompted international criticism, even as its policy of noninterference faces new challenges, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

EUROPE

Tens of Thousands Rally for Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed a rally of more than 100,000 at a stadium in central Moscow, calling for support in the March 4 presidential election (RFE/RL). Putin vowed to limit foreign interference in Russia.

The New Yorker's David Remnick examines the effectiveness of Russian resistance to Putin's next presidency in this CFR Must Read.

GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at a memorial service honoring the victims of a neo-Nazi terror cell (DerSpiegel) that was discovered last year, saying "indifference has a devastating effect."

AMERICAS

Chávez Ships Fuel to Syria

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez directed Venezuela's state oil company (NYT) to ship fuel to Syria twice since December in an apparent effort to prop up embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

COLOMBIA: The air force and national police launched an airstrike in northwest Colombia, killing six FARC guerilla rebels (LAHT), President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed.

CAMPAIGN 2012

Candidates Spar Over Iran at GOP Debate

With a slew of primary contests and caucuses coming up in the next couple of weeks, the four remaining GOP presidential candidates in Arizona debated for the last time before Super Tuesday, touching on a variety of foreign policy issues ranging from foreign aid and defense policy to Iran and immigration. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney agreed that Iran poses a serious nuclear threat that should be addressed.

Prior to the debate, Romney released a tax plan that would cut marginal rates by 20 percent for individuals and broaden the tax base. His proposal also would zero out taxes on income from capital gains, interest, and qualified dividends for families with an annual income below $200,000.

For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

To receive daily updates in your inbox sign up for CFR.org's Daily News Brief.

Topics: Afghanistan • Daily Roundup

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. MyPictureOfMuhammad

    8=>(_|_)

    February 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  2. George Patton

    Can anyone in their right mind really blame the Afghans for feeling the way that they do? It's enough of an insult to have foreign troops occupying one's country in the first place without having these people insult insult one's religion on top of it!!! Although it's ten years too late, I say let's just get out of there now, now, now!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  3. Futura9

    We burn a book, they SHOOT us. And WE apologize to THEM.

    America ain't what it used to be.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    That the demonstrations spread like a wild fire out of control can be explained that the literacy rate in Afghanistan is quite low and the grevances are deep. The Taliban capitalised on the incident to instsigate anti-American sentiments and government officials added fuels to the fire by being incompetent and inefficient.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      The very reason that the NATO forces failed to win a complete military victory in Afghanistan is the simple fact the the Afghans don't now and never wanted foreign rule. After all, they have no more right to be there than the Russians did back in the 1980's. At least Mikhail Gorbachev had enough sense to see that so he pulled the Russian forces out of there 1989. Unfortunately, I don't think that the right-wing thugs in Washington are on the same page as they wish to make Afghanistan another U.S. satellite state!

      February 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Vladmir Putin has chosen today to address the "save the Russia" rally. In his patriotic speech he pledged the crowd to win "the battle for Russia", and would not allow interference in the country's affairs. Inevitably one remembered Napoleon's failed attempt to invade and conquer Russia in 1812, which effectively marked the end of his imperial ambitions. This military venture was later enduringly commemorated by the author Tolstoy in his monumental work "War and Peace" and by the composer Tchaikovsky in his 1812 Overture.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Britain and France might engage themselves in Syria militarily. after the deaths of the two journalists in Homs yesterday. Assad's regime must be enraged by Western journalists who enter the country illegally and cover the uprising. The untimely death of NY Times correspondent Anthony Shadid last week on a trail to Turkey made internatinal headlines. This might haven been the straw that broke the camel's back and saw the regime forces target these – in their eyes – personae non grata.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  7. S.V.P.YADAV

    the Editior garu ,Burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Base in North Kabul it is true,for that U S president Mr.Obama garu said Apology to Afgan nationals.There ends the matter do not hesitate.

    February 24, 2012 at 1:26 am | Reply
    • chris

      soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      March 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Reply
  8. Altee11

    The criminals, gangsters, thugs, and jihadists destroy more Qurans than anyone else. They also desecrate them more than anyone else by writing vile violent plans, aims and propaganda in them.
    Why don't more Afghans and Karzai government officials say this?
    By giving in on this, the evil ones will have one more way guaranteed to spread their message; now no one can destroy the what they write. From now on, all of their communications might be in Qurans.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:40 am | Reply
  9. Altee11

    The criminals, gangsters, thugs, and jihadists destroy more Qurans than anyone else. They also desecrate them more than anyone else by writing vile violent plans, aims and propaganda in them.
    Why don't more Afghans and Karzai government officials say this?
    By giving in on this, the evil ones can continue to hijack and hide behind a religion. Now these very evil people will have one more way guaranteed to spread their message; now no one can destroy the what they write. From now on, all of their communications might be in Qurans.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:42 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Do you truly believe what you posted above? So you see nothing wrong with the NATO occupation of Afghanistan? The Afghans do!!!

      February 24, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
  10. jay

    wzup folks

    March 14, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
    • chris

      nuthin much

      March 14, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
  11. jay

    wud

    March 14, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
  12. chris

    eating some ceral

    March 14, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply

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