Unrest provoked by the Koran burning has eased, but analysts predict anti-US sentiment will remain at heightened levels for some time.
“This one isn’t going away. I think this act fatally compromises our efforts in Afghanistan,” said Michael Corgan, an international relations professor at Boston University. “The burnings immediately put at greater risk all the Americans who were doing good things in Afghanistan building and restoring infrastructure.”
The clash of cultures has played out on the battlefield where Afghan security forces have increasingly partnered with their foreign counterparts. Since 2007, Afghan security force attacks on coalition troops have resulted in the deaths of more than 75 coalition personnel and the wounding of more than 110 others, the Pentagon said.
A study commissioned by the US military in May last year said the incidents are no longer isolated and are “provoking a crisis of confidence and trust among Westerners training and working with the Afghan security forces.”
Afghans generally view coalition troops as “a bunch of violent, reckless, intrusive, arrogant, self-serving, profane, infidel bullies hiding behind high technology,” the report said.
Coalition troops generally view the Afghan forces as a “bunch of cowardly, incompetent, obtuse, thieving, complacent, lazy, pot-smoking, treacherous and murderous radicals.”
Afghan and US troops almost came to blows in March 2010 on a base in Helmand Province in the south after Afghan soldiers sliced off the ears of a puppy that the American troops had adopted. The Afghans were treating the animal as a typical Afghan fighting dog that has its ears and tails removed so its canine opponents can’t grab them in battle.
The Afghan forces, according to the study, complain that the US troops urinate in public, use excessive profanity, loudly pass gas, insult them and drink or eat in front of them during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, a time when Muslims fast during the day. They claim US troops use faulty intelligence to raid Afghan homes and humiliate them by publicly searching them in front of Afghans civilians.