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article imageAfghans fear foreign security forces equally to the Taliban

By Ken Hanly     Dec 13, 2019 in World
The war is Afghanistan has been going on for 18 years. Afghans now fear foreign security forces to about the same degree as the Taliban. While only 1 percent trust the Taliban to negotiate peace for them only 0.5 percent trust foreign forces to do so.
The entire survey by the Asia Foundation can be found here. The survey shows that Afghans are increasingly optimistic about the peace process but most do not see the presence of foreign troops as very important to the process and most are quite wiling to see foreign troops leavej if this will result in a deal. The survey raises questions about the utility and necessity of the US and other foreign troops remaining in Afghanistan.
The survey
The survey is intended to measure Afghan opinions in order to provide useful information for policymakers and other stakeholders. This year the survey consisted of in-person interviews with more than 17,000 Afghans in all the 34 Afghan provinces between July l1 to August 7 this year.
For the first time, the survey asked questions about ongoing negotiations with the Taliban. A huge majority of 89 percent supported the negotiations.
Important factors in negotiations
A slight majoity of Afghans 52 percent thought that the presence of foreign troops was not even an important factor in peace negotiations. Afghans were willing to give up the presence of foreign troops in the country more than anything else. Only 17.5 percent thought that it was an important feature not to give up. 77 percent would not want to compromise on women's rights, Over 80 percent wanted to keep the present constitution and 78 percent would not give up freedom of speech and the press,
Afghans trust their government much more than foreign forces or Taliban
The Taliban had the support of only about 13 percent of the population. Much of any legitimacy that the Taliban has comes from fight foreign forces. In 2019 international forces killed more civilians than the Taliban. While only a minuscule percentage of Afghans trust the Taliban or foreign troops to negotiate for them, 53.6 percent trust president Ashraf Ghani and their government to do so. Many Afghans see the presence of foreign forces in the country as the main reason the Taliban are still fighting.
The US counterinsurgency program
has as one of its aims to win hearts and minds as a way of achieving legitimacy. However, the result in Afghanistan is at best quite mixed. The Afghans support their government and army that the US helped prop up. Indeed the Afghan government is seen by the Taliban as a puppet government of the US. However, the US and other foreign forces are not seen as very important or necessary for a peace deal. The US might do better if they let the Afghans pursue their own military strategy as best they can with help from the US rather than emphasis upon their own military action. More diplomatic and economic engagement with the Afghan government may help bring a negotiated peace faster,
More about US Afghan relations, US troops in Afghanistan, Poll of Afghans
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