Canadian media outlets began reporting yesterday afternoon that Canada had followed the example set by other NATO allies in Kabul.
Canadian officials in Afghanistan have been ordered to stay out of government buildings after two senior American officers were killed inside a supposedly secure ministry office in Kabul.
The measures come amid a weekend of violence and anti-Western protests in the country following the inadvertent burning last week of Korans at an American military base near Kabul.
That's the Globe and Mail but reports at CTV News and the Toronto Star provided similar explanations for the unrest that's been sweeping Afghanistan, focusing on the burning of the Korans without mentioning any other specific cause. They could have looked a little deeper.
"This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children," said Maruf Hotak, 60, a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.
"They always admit their mistakes," he said. "They burn our Koran and then they apologize. You can't just disrespect our holy book and kill our innocent children and make a small apology."
The occupation of Afghanistan by American and NATO forces is now in its eleventh year and there are doubtless a lot of Afghans who view it as just that: an occupation. A lot of grievances can pile up given over a decade of night raids, "erroneous" air attacks, credible reports of the torture of detainees, cultural misunderstandings and, occasionally, just plain criminal behaviour. As Greenwald suggests, the burning of the Korans looks more like the immediate trigger than the ultimate cause.
The original Globe and Mail story offered a quote with a relatively positive outlook from one Canadian in Kabul.
"It remains to be seen whether the atmosphere will be different now on and if there will be the same degree of trust as before," said Tonita Murray, a former director general of the Canadian Police College who has worked for several years as an advisor to an Afghan ministry.
But Ms. Murray, who says she was advised not to go to work for several days, says she "expects things to return to normal soon and I will go back to my office as usual."
"I don't think things are any more unsafe for internationals than normal, except for the military..."
And there's a quote from Bob Rae that seems to imply that's it strictly the Taliban that poses a threat.
...Kabul is clearly being targeted for activities by the Taliban intended to undermine confidence and increase demands for a NATO pull-out."
But as the Globe itself reports, the suspect being sought in the murder of the two American officers is himself an officer in the Afghan police. And that NYT article reports that a number of members of the Afghan parliament have participated in the protests and actively incited their fellow Afghans to take up arms against the invaders.
I'm not sure I see where Ms. Murray gets her optimism.