In Dissent Magazine: The Massacre in Mazar, How It Started & Who Was Behind It
The Koran protests in Afghanistan began with an Iranian propaganda initiative that was set in motion on March 24, a full week before the Massacre in Mazar. Afghan president Hamid Karzai played a central role in the affair. The bloody skirmishing that has left at least two dozen people dead across Afghanistan has gone so far as to cast a shadow over the future of the UN’s operations in the country. In other words, it’s working.
Of all places in Afghanistan for a UN compound to be turned into a human abattoir, we’re supposed to be shocked that it would be in the contented little metropolis of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of the peaceful northern province of Balkh. We’re supposed to be astonished that the murderers of those seven UN workers arose from a frenzied mob at the head of a procession that started out at the city’s famous Blue Mosque.
We should not be surprised at all.
On March 24, the Iranian foreign ministry, Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, and Karzai’s office issued simultaneous alarms about Jones’ Koran-burning. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said the incident was part of American “hegemonic plots.” Karzai called for Jones’ arrest and prosecution.
Karzai’s statement was widely reported in Iran’s government-controlled press but got limited play even in the Afghan news media. Then the Netherlands-based BNO News got involved. After making its mark in 2007 when it sold Reuters a videotaped speech by Osama Bin Laden, BNO went on to become a popular Twitter feed and is now a low budget social-media hybrid, part press-release clearinghouse and part amateur-journalism vector. When BNO began circulating a report headlined “Afghanistan, Iran condemn Koran burning in US,” the story went viral.
The first Afghan protests about the Koran-burning were staged by the Shura-e Olama-e Shiia, the Kabul-based Shiite religious council dominated by Asif Mohseni, the leading Khomeinist ayatollah in Afghanistan. Mohseni is best known for having persuaded Karzai to sign off on the incendiary Afghan “rape law” in 2009 (which effectively legalized marital rape), an event that prompted protests by Afghan women and howls of international indignation.
The Khomeinist-led Koran demonstrations in Kabul were the first that most Afghans had even heard about Jones’ vulgar escapade. (You always know it’s a Khomeinist event by the tell-tale slogan, Marg Bar Yahood—Death to the Jews). This brings us back to Mazar, to the Tomb of the Exalted where most Afghans prefer to believe that the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed is buried, and to the famous Blue Mosque.
From accounts of last Friday’s massacre that I’ve received from several Afghan human rights activists and journalists, what emerges is a picture of an opportunity that was just waiting for a pretext. What happened did not simply result from a protest march that began at the Blue Mosque and got terribly out of hand. . .
That’s from my piece today in Dissent.
The Washington Post today provides some useful and rare insight into the distance Karzai has moved from his American benefactors, although nothing about the Khomeinist orbit within which Karzai has allowed himself to be drawn. For insight into that, all you need to do is follow the money.
There is a lot of money to follow. The Iranian payments, which officials say total millions of dollars, form what amounts to an off-the-books “presidential slush fund” that Iran fills up regularly so that Karzai can buy Afghan legislators, tribal elders and Taliban commanders. It’s quite the racket, and it has been happening under the Americans’ noses for quite some while.
Briefcases full of it. Bakshish by the barge load. And that just scratches the surface.
For an Afghan view from the front lines of the Koran-burn frenzies, here’s today’s report from our dear friendEhsanullah Ehsan in Kandahar. And I see that Christopher Hitchens, running on instinct alone, gets it dead to rightsanyway, as usual. Karzai went out of his way to intensify mob feeling. “This caps a long period where his behavior has come to seem like a conscious collusion with warlordism, organized crime, and even with elements of the Taliban.”
Why would Karzai behave this way? Start asking that kind of question and nowhere will the discomfort be felt more acutely than in and around the White House. Well, too bad. It’s time to start asking these awkward questions, before it’s too late.
Follow the money.