The Senlis Council recently released a report entitled "Iraq: Angry hearts and angry minds," (pdf) which marks the group's first foray into Iraqi politics. For the study, they interviewed many Iraqis to get their views on the foreign occupation of their country. Not surprisingly, they found that a majority of Iraqis want foreign troops to leave - a result that echoes many other polls and reports as well as the impressions of many journalists and Iraqi commentators. What is more surprising is the results of their interviews with Afghans:
When asked about the ongoing presence of foreign troops in their country, over half (55%) of those interviewed in Iraq thought that the foreign troops should leave. When asked further about the effect that the foreign troops leaving would have on the presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, 41% thought that AQI will remain in Iraq after the foreign troops leave.These results are, as Senlis states, merely preliminary and further they don't give any indications of how many people were thus polled.
However, a similar number (44%) of those interviewed think the opposite, that Al Qaeda will not remain in Iraq once the foreign troops leave. In comparison, more than six out ten of those interviewed in Afghanistan said that the foreign troops should leave, despite more than seven in ten believing that Al Qaeda will still be present in the country after the foreign troops have left. In Somalia, 85% of those interviewed think that foreign forces should leave their country, with nearly nine in ten believing that Al-Shabab and Al Qaeda will remain in the country.
Speaking with CTV Television, the Senlis Council's manager in Afghanistan Almas Bawar Zakhiwal explains the situation:
ALMAS BAWAR ZAKHIWAL: So, first of all, it's not possible to go ahead without the military support. We definitely need the support of the military in Afghanistan and all these other countries. But we need to focus more and give more attention to the development side and try to win the hearts and minds of the local people which is --
O'REGAN [CTV host]: But how are we doing right now in those efforts? How are we doing?
ZAKHIWAL: We're not doing good right now.
ZAKHIWAL: We are losing the support of the local people. And that is because we see in Kandahar if the Taliban can succeed, if the insurgency can succeed, breaking into a prison and releasing thousands of prisoners, they were not alone. So, there was support behind them, local support... (link)