Saturday, June 2, 2007

Senlis Council's latest

The Senlis Council's Norine MacDonald recently lambasted the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), saying "on the ground in Kandahar, it's sad to say, despite good intentions, CIDA's efforts are non-existent".
MacDonald hit the media upon the release of Senlis' new report, On a knife edge: Rapid Assessment Field Survey, Southern and Eastern Afghanistan (pdf here). The report is based on face-to-face interviews with 12000 Afghans and is especially relevant to Canada as it largely deals with the south of Afghanistan, where Canadian Forces are.
Some highlights:

"...Across the south, the majority of survey respondents both worry about being able to feed their families, and do not believe that the international troops are helping them. Afghans in southern Afghanistan are increasingly prepared to admit their support for the Taliban".

"...The insurgency in Afghanistan is now at a critical juncture. 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. It is likely that this relatively high – and increasing - level of support for the Taliban will prompt further attacks, which will in turn raise levels of support and convictions of success, triggering a positive spiral of support for the Taliban. The ensuing psychological advantage coupled with the ongoing poverty crisis in southern Afghanistan will help the Taliban to recruit thousands of new fighters."

"...In fact, international community’s misguided policies are responsible for the worsening situation of many Afghans: the thousands inhabiting the internal refugee camps of Kandahar and Helmand have been displaced by the aerial bombing of their villages carried out by NATO and the International Security Assistance Force."

"...Canada’s current pledge for humanitarian support through CIDA is $100 million dollars per year – aid that has not been visible in Afghanistan - or about $3.40 per person per year; it’s military expenditures are estimated to be as much as $140 per person."

"...52% of the population [of the province of Nangarhar] now believes that the US should leave Afghanistan."

The Senlis report includes an extract from Gordon Smith's Canada in Afghanistan: is it working? (pdf here), which Smith wrote for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. The Smith extract concludes:

"...a pull out of NATO forces would seriously question the legitimacy of North-Atlantic Treatment Organization forces and its role as a tool for stabilization, peace-keeping operations and reconstruction. A worst-case scenario would see NATO be substituted by a European military instrument coming from the European Union or from Asian countries or even regional countries in a coalition of forces that would have a less Washington-centric vision of international order".

For Smith, a professor at UVic, the "worst case scenario" is an Afghanistan which isn't dominated by the US, despite the wishes of 52% of Nangarhar.

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