Look past the cartoons, writes Christian Parenti of The Nation. The violence in Afghanistan stems from grievances over four years of occupation by US and NATO troops and ineffectual foreign aid schemes.

The Nation: Afghanistan has veered sharply and unexpectedly toward a profound new level of instability, as protests against cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper and deemed insulting to Mohammed have gripped major towns and cities across the country.

So far four protesters have been killed by local Afghan security forces. Three of the dead fell at a protest outside the huge US military base at Bagram, where at least a dozen others were wounded. Some Western embassies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have begun evacuating staff. Foreigners are largely staying off the streets, as protests are expected to continue until midday prayers on Friday. | story

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