According to the NYT, the Afghan president we’re keeping alive certainly played a central role:
Both Afghan and international news media had initially played down or ignored the actions of Mr. Jones, the Florida pastor. On Thursday, however, President Karzai made a speech and issued statements condemning the Koran burning and calling for the arrest of Mr. Jones for his actions. On Friday, that theme was picked up in mosques throughout Afghanistan.
“Karzai brought this issue back to life, and he has to take some responsibility for starting this up,” said a prominent Afghan businessman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution if he was identified as a critic of the president.
“Karzai’s speech itself provoked people to take such actions,” said Qayum Baabak, a political analyst in Mazar-i-Sharif. “Karzai should have called on people to be patient rather than making people more angry.”
The murderous riots themselves seem to have been a Taliban operation. The whole world knows by now that the Taliban will seize on any excuse to go on a beheading spree. But why did Karzai help move that excuse along? Is he simply off his meds as the WikiLeaks cables suggest happens from time to time, or is he playing to the home crowd? What’s Hamid up to?