Koran-Burning Backlash Rages On
General David Petraeus struggled with the backlash following a Koran burning by a fringe church in Florida. What Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called a “publicity stunt” has led to days of deadly anti-American riots in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Petraeus made no bones about the U.S. government’s position: the Koran burning “was hateful, it was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible.” He said that the mob that has gathered poses an “additional serious security challenge in a country that faces considerable security challenges.” At least twenty people have died thus far.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also tried to put out the fire, saying that Americans respect the Koran. He also added commentary directed at Afghans: “to attack and kill innocent people in response to the deplorable act of one individual is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked Eikenberry and Petraeus to request that Congress issue a condemnation of the Koran burning.
Last week, rebels in Libya floated a ceasefire idea, offering to stand down if loyalists stopped attacking them. On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that even though the ceasefire had been proposed, it remained the administration’s position that Qaddafi is “no longer fit to lead, he has lost legitimacy in the eyes of his people and the world.” The rebels came under increasing fire as allied forces struggled with the Libyan weather last week, unable to ID targets, which “reduced the effectiveness [of airstrikes], and has allowed the regime forces to move back to the east,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told the Senate.