Afghans Now Rejecting NATO Troops - For Taliban

Posted on Friday, March 23 at 13:09 by bracewell
A team of 50 researchers polled 17,000 Afghan men in randomly selected districts in the Kandahar, Helmand and Nangarhar provinces of southeastern Afghanistan between March 3 and March 12. The Senlis Council is a Brussels-based think tank that began as a European drug-policy organization.

27% openly admitted to supporting the Taliban
...3% supported Taliban in Dec/05
......The real figure the researchers suspect may be even higher than the survey indicates - Taliban supporters are wary of discussing the Taliban with Westerners.

48% were confident Afghan and NATO troops would be able to defeat the insurgents.
......It notes that when U.S. troops first arrived at the end of 2001 and deposed the Taliban government, most Afghans believed the Taliban had been eliminated from the country.
......Report: "[Local] populations' belief in one side's capacity for victory is just one step behind actually supporting that side. Who locals believe is going to win is often an important factor in that side's eventual victory."

49% thought NATO would lose to the Taliban
...... “This is extremely disturbing – people are evenly split on this issue. Counter-insurgency theory shows us that local populations’ belief in one side’s capacity for victory is just one step behind actually supporting that side. Immediate steps must be taken to reverse this deadly trend.”

19% said foreign troops were helping them personally
......In U.S. controlled regions it was only 6.5 per cent

71 % believed the Afghan government was also unhelpful.

80% were worried about feeding their families. 72 % of men in the region know how to fire a weapon

......This makes them potential Taliban recruits - who are paid six times the average income.
...... “This is of particular concern because our research has shown that much of the support for the Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan is poverty driven.”
......"People are hungry and angry, and when bombing campaigns level villages, it's not difficult to see how those facts come together."
......The informal refugee camps of internally displaced people provide easy recruitment grounds for the Taliban. “The men in these camps are looking for work; they are desperate to feed their families. They are easy recruits for the Taliban. “

60 % believed it was the most corrupt government in two decades.

...... Since the fall of the Taliban – "corruption has soared to levels not seen in previous administrations."
...... Under Karzai, money "can buy government appointments, bypass justice or evade police" with impunity. Weak law enforcement was mainly to blame, said the group's executive director, Lorenzo Delesgues.
...... "Corruption has undermined the legitimacy of the state," he said yesterday in Kabul.

52% wanted NATO to leave the country
88% believed the U.S. response to insurgent attacks was wrong.
6.5% said foreign troops were helping them personally

......"Across the south, the majority of survey respondents both worry about being able to feed their families, and do not believe that the Afghan government and the international troops are helping them. “Afghanis in southern Afghanistan are increasingly prepared to admit their support for the Taliban, and the belief that the government and the international community will not be able to defeat the Taliban is widespread in the southern provinces."
...... "The widespread perception of locals is that the international community is not helping to improve their lives. The Taliban has been able to easily and effectively capitalize on this by providing protection from forced eradication [of poppy crops] and employment to many."
......"It is clear that the Taliban are winning the propaganda war. This victory is now having a direct effect on the war itself, through people's perceptions of who is going to win."
......Norine MacDonald, Senlis's Canadian founder: "The military forces are doing a remarkable job in extremely difficult circumstances. But woefully inadequate aid and development, and misguided counter-narcotics policies, are turning people against them and making their work much more dangerous."

The conclusions echo those of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, a more hawkish counterpart based in Calgary.
......Both organizations have said the military component of the mission is falling behind because of inadequate humatarian efforts.

Maclean's Magazines Scott Taylor, who travelled with the Senlis Council in Kandahar earlier this year, says it's time for a comprehensive re-assessment of the Afghanistan mission's goals.
...... "The fact is, the military can't win this. Can they defeat the Taliban in every single engagement? If you go by body count, yes. But we've had our own [Major-General Andrew] Leslie say: Each time we kill one it makes a martyr and that makes 15 more recruits. "The longer we're there, the more that we kill, the more it becomes us versus them."
...... According to Taylor, even the reconstruction efforts have been somewhat misguided. By trying to re-shape Afghan society as quickly as possible, he said, Canadian efforts have often proven incompatible with local customs and been rejected outright.

“We have made a series of recommendations which we believe could help reverse this trend and we are urging the international community to immediately rebalance its tactics in Afghanistan. The main role of the international community in Afghanistan is to provide support for President Karzai’s government and many of the approaches being used mean our own policies are empowering our enemies. ”

1) Development has been sorely under funded; (Military spending 2002-2006 outpaces development spending by 900%) An aid surge is needed;

2) Eradication must stop Forced poppy-crop eradication has robbed many of their only means of survival.

3) Replace current counter-productive drug policies with pragmatic initiatives such as poppy for medicine projects. An approach to poppy cultivation that takes ordinary farmers’ needs into account by licensing opium production for medicinal purposes would help boost support for President Karzai and to trigger economic diversification;

4) Implement pilot poppy for medicine projects at the next planting season. Licenses for existing poppy crops for medicine should be issued to those farms that embrace and demonstrate a transition to crop diversification. This long-term counter-narcotics strategy has to be developed locally in order to have the ownership required for success

5) Military interventions have caused many civilian casualties. Avoiding civilian injury must be a priority in all military action in Afghanistan.

Better Formatting at: AfghaniBlog

Senlis Council News Release
MACLEANS: Not welcome - Survey suggests Afghanis are wary of NATO troops
GLOBE & MAIL: Afghans rejecting Canadian troops for Taliban, survey finds
TOR STAR: Losing Afghan hearts, minds

Cdn Def &For'n Aff Inst report: Work with -not against- Taliban
One of the experts that we asked about how many troops would be needed for a military victory said, 'Oh, maybe half a million.' So adding a couple of thousand is wonderful but it doesn't do anything."

Privy Council: Vast majority of Afghanis struggle for the "bare essentials of survival"
The bleak forecast of the heavily censored report is at odds with recent claims by other Canadian officials
......It says the vast majority of the population still struggles for the "bare essentials of survival," just as they did in the days of the Taliban

Excerpted: Senate Report on Afghanistan
The Committee was impressed by the optimism of Canadian troops and their leaders ... but ... we found it hard to square that with reality.
......CIDA has a number of projects underway, but no one was able to show us. Journalists say they have seen some evidence of useful programs, but these appear to be limited.
......If our only mission is to distract the Taliban while our allies make progress on other fronts ... this hasn’t been properly explained to Canadians.
......Where Canada is trying to have its biggest impact – in Kandahar – life is clearly more perilous because we are there.
......Afghan government officials are notoriously corrupt at all levels. It is a pipe dream to believe that this deep-seated tradition will go away overnight.
......Anyone expecting to see the emergence in Afghanistan within the next several decades of a recognizable modern democracy ... is dreaming in Technicolor.
......Our former former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Chris Alexander, said it would take 5 generations of effort to make a difference in Afghanistan.

US State Dept: Sickening Abuse by Afghan Gov Officials
[BRACEWELL: This extract focuses on the action of government officials – an evil read.]

A Soldier Reflects: We're Still Dying in Afghanistan
[BRACEWELL: This is a letter by a Canadian related to a dead soldier – who fought as a Soviet in Afghanistan. Supplemental material here is very much worth reading.]

Afghan Instability: A Deliberate Scorched-Earth Strategy
[BRACEWELL: The author of the article is discussing the reason a trans-Afghan pipeline has not been built.]
Some of the possible reasons for US’s wish continued instability, are as follows:
......1- governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan are risky countries for US energy security
......2- instability is the “justification” of US existence in the region
......3- instability impedes regional cooperation projects
......4- instability will continue regional “energy security” problems and maintain Indian and regional dependence on US
......5- instability will sustain the high energy costs and so, slow development in the region
......6- the Iran problem has not been solved yet

Note: AfghaniBlog Senlis Council News R... MACLEANS: Not welcom... GLOBE & MAIL: Afg... TOR STAR: Losing Af... Cdn Def &For'n Aff... Privy Council: Vast m... Excerpted: Senate Rep... US State Dept: Sickeni... A Soldier Reflects: We... Afghan Instability: A ...

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