Sunday, September 7, 2008

Foreign occupation ever more unpopular

Veteran Associated Press reporter Kathy Gannon is the latest knowledgeable observer of the Afghan scene to note that a majority of Afghans have begun to seriously question the foreign occupation of their country:

Afghans Fed Up With Government, US
by Kathy Gannon

GHANI KHIEL, Afghanistan, Sept 7 (AP) - The bearded, turbaned men gather beneath a large, leafy tree in rural eastern Nangarhar province. When Malik Mohammed speaks on their behalf, his voice is soft but his words are harsh. Mohammed makes it clear that the tribal chiefs have lost all faith in both their own government and the foreign soldiers in their country.

Such disillusionment is widespread in Afghanistan...

"This is our land. We are afraid to send our sons out the door for fear the American troops will pick them up," says Mohammed, who was chosen by the others to represent them. "Daily we have headaches from the troops. We are fed up. Our government is weak and corrupt and the American soldiers have learned nothing."

A strong sense of frustration echoed through dozens of interviews by The Associated Press with Afghan villagers, police, government officials, tribal elders and Taliban who left and rejoined the religious movement. The interviews ranged from the capital, Kabul, to the rural regions near the border with Pakistan.

The overwhelming result: Ordinary Afghans are deeply bitter about American and NATO forces because of errant bombs, heavy-handed searches and seizures and a sense that the foreigners do not understand their culture. They are equally fed up with what they see as seven years of corruption and incompetence in a U.S.-backed government that has largely failed to deliver on development.

Even with more foreign troops, Afghanistan is now less secure...

Inside the walled compound of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul, workers are knee-deep in statistics that measure the dissatisfaction of Afghans. An army of workers crisscrossed 33 of the country's 34 provinces and took the opinions of 15,200 people, mostly in rural areas. The survey has not been released, but Ahmad Nader Nadery, the commissioner, gave The AP a preview.

The survey, done annually for the past three years, shows a steady deterioration in the social and economic stability of Afghans, Nadery says. Average debt last year was $1,000 and is now 20 percent higher. And up to 73 percent of Afghans say they cannot go to the government for help unless they have money or power...

Najib, a policeman who asks not to be identified beyond his first name for fear of losing his job, reflects the general anger...

"The president is crying, but nothing has changed," says Najib... "People are unhappy, and more and more it will become difficult for the Americans and good for the Taliban. These people (U.S. troops) are not making one mistake, but they are making one thousand mistakes and they are killing many people." ...

"An Afghan trucker put it succinctly: 'Forget the Taliban, our biggest problems are with the police,'" says Seth Jones, an analyst with the U.S.-based RAND Corporation and author of a report on the rise of Afghanistan's insurgency... (link)

No comments: