The attacks in France have once again had people wondering how the events in the Western world or involving Western military forces will shape relations with the Middle East. Here are three more events that have made a similar impact this year:
- March 11: sixteen Afghan civilian villagers, most of whom were women and children, were shot to death. An American Army sergeant, later identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, stands accused of the house-to-house massacre. President Barack Obama has condemned the killings and has called for a thorough investigation.
- February 22: U.S. forces burned Islamic holy books, including many Qurans, at a detention facility on an allied base in Afghanistan. Obama apologized for the burnings, but they prompted weeks of violent protests and attacks, leaving some 30 Afghans dead. In the aftermath of the burnings, six U.S. service members were killed by fellow Afghan soldiers.
- January 12: U.S. Marines were depicted on video urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. This desecration sparked an outcry by Afghans against U.S. forces in the country. Before these events, President Obama had set a target date of December 31, 2014, to have all U.S. combat forces out of Afghanistan. Currently, there are approximately 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and Obama has ordered that number reduced to 68,000 by the end of September. Great Britain now has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan and plans to reduce that number to 9,000 by the end of this year.
The attacks in France are different because Western forces did not initiate them, but the world now stands waiting to see how this latest increase in tension will affect relations in both France and in the Middle East.
(Katie Wenger / firstname.lastname@example.org)