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May 26, 2005

Who provoked the "Newsweek" riots?

Laura Rosen and Jude Nagurney Camwell point to an interesting analysis of the violent demonstrations in Afghanistan:

May 26, 2005
With a Little Help From Our Friends

Kandahar, Afghanistan

ON Saturday, May 14, several hundred people gathered in the windswept main street of Qalat, the capital of Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan. Led by local religious leaders, the crowd chanted slogans protesting the supposed desecration of the Koran by interrogators at the detention center run by the United States at Guantánamo Bay, as reported in the May 9 issue of Newsweek.

Unlike protests widely covered in the news media, this one was peaceful and broke up after about an hour. And there lies a paradox: Zabul is one of the country's most conservative and anti-Western provinces. Only a few miles away on the very road where the demonstration took place, vehicles carrying Afghan employees of international organizations are regularly ambushed.

It is inconceivable that the residents of Zabul are less pained than other Afghans by an alleged insult to what they believe is the living word of God. And yet their protest came days late and featured none of the violence, vandalism or loss of life suffered elsewhere. Why the disparity?

Basically, Chayes suspects that Pakistani intelligence agents exploited popular outrage over the Guantanamo atrocities. Why? Pakistan exerts quasi-colonial influence over much of Afghanistan and the Pakistani government resents the American presence in the region. The Khandahar-based Chayes wonders whether the riots were orchestrated (or deliberately exacerbated) as part of a Pakistani campaign to inflame anti-American sentiment.


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This makes sense...Pakistani intelligence was long considered a major supporter of the Taliban during their rule. Their sympathies with jihadist elements was taken for granted long before 9/11 -- they were, after all, instrumental in arming and aiding the early 80's anti-Soviet war.

Supposedly, Musharaf has cleaned up their act, but that is probably more propaganda than reality.

Oh please not this bullshit again. General Meyers said at the time that he didn't think the riots in Afgahnistan were really about the Newsweek story... then he was "corrected" by the White House who saw an opportunity to bash the media...

Then lots of journalistic hand wringing, followed by a castigation by the first Librarian...

Then President Kharai come to town and FOX runs the interview where he says reporters need to be certain about their facts and bear the consequences for them...

Then Keith Olberman airs the unedited version of the interview and President Kharai comes out and says at the end that the riots weren't really about the Newsweek story... but about the elections in Afghanistan... validating what General Meyers said in the first place!

AAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhh the stoery that ate our brains and our common sense!

I don't believe the Newsweek story caused the riots. The story broke while I was in London. I heard about it second hand. It sounded so surreal. I couldn't believe that anyone wanted to blame Newsweek for the riots.

As if the citizens of Afghanistan didn't have enough ironclad provocations in connection with Gitmo not to mention American torture and murder in Afghanistan. Even if the rioters had cited the desecration of the Koran during the riots, and even if the Newsweek account was the last straw, I don't see how Iskioff is to blame.

Relying on a single anonymous source is risky, but it's not malpractice for investigative reporting. After all, Deep Throat's leads made Woodward and Bernstein into journalistic icons.

The New Yorker's lead article this issue attributes the riots foremostly to a speach delivered by a Pakistani MP a few days before the most murderous riots.

that's "speech"

A moment for the messenger vs. the message---consider Sarah Chayse not only as a journalist in this context but as a courageous humanist. She has no particular protection in Khandahar, is no longer an "official" journalist, and is a western woman. If you read the op-ed, you will see that she has no fear in print in a worldwide distribution of speaking her mind not only on the ISI but on the local warlords. Few op-eds these days are based on this level of participation in the reality-based sphere...

Down the rabbit hole...

The role of the media is point seven in this article:

How to lose a country in seven steps:

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