Oxfam's new study of Afghanistan has some rather disturbing revelations. See the following, via IRIN, the UN's humanitarian news agency:
Donors should support local peace-building efforts - OxfamWhile these findings are bracing enough, it is instructive to look at the table appended below, which is from the Oxfam study. (**NB: The numbers in the table refer to individual respondents, not percentages. Highlights are mine.)
KABUL, 28 February 2008 (IRIN) - The international community and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai are five years late in implementing a meaningful community peace-building programme, and there is no time to lose for a local peace-making drive, Oxfam International said in a new report. ...
Oxfam’s research indicated that 16 percent of Afghans perceive Taliban insurgents to be the greatest threat to their security; 14 percent thought warlords were the biggest threat to security; 13 percent said criminals; and 11 percent said the international forces. (link)
As you can see, responses in the six sampled provinces varied considerably. In three of them, foreign forces were actually seen to be more dangerous than the Taliban. This included Kandahar province, where 14 respondents rated foreign forces as the greater danger versus 12 who said that of the Taliban and 16 for whom warlords was the response.
Speaking of warlords, it's worth asking how much responsibility we ourselves hold for their behaviour. We are violently defending a regime wherein warlords rule in two thirds of its territory, often as government appointees or even members of parliament. How much blame should we take for their actions? The same question applies much more directly in regard to the Afghan army and police, whom we train and arm.Looking at the graphics above, we see that if we add up the respondents who saw the greatest threat from "our side", the figures are sobering. Adding up the figures for the Afghan police and army, foreign forces and Afghan officials, we find that about a quarter of those surveyed saw these actors as the most threatening. Adding in warlords pushes it to almost 40%. This versus the Taliban's 16%.
(Promoted from comments section:)
Nick Barrowman said...
I think these are very interesting findings. It is revealing that the frequency with which international forces are perceived to be a major threat lies between the corresponding frequencies for criminals and drug traffickers.
I would, however, suggest caution in two respects. First, when the results are broken down by province, the numbers get quite small, which makes it very difficult to draw reliable conclusions.
Second, I don't think it's appropriate to sum up the numbers corresponding to different threats. Note that the report indicates that "Respondents could identify multiple causes, threats, and dispute resolution mechanisms, in response to each question". For each threat, the numbers represent "how many respondents believed this issue constituted a major threat to their security" [my italics] not the greatest threat (although the title of the figure and of the table are misleading in this respect).
In any case, what does seem clear is that if it can be said that many Afghans perceive the Taliban to be a threat, it can also be said that many Afghans perceive the international forces to be a threat.
February 29, 2008 8:24 PM