Every year, ABC News and the BBC team up with other news organizations to conduct a poll of Afghans to see how things are going.
Not well, it would seem, after an upswing in 2009.
Most Afghans want foreign troops out sooner rather than later because life is worse, rather than better, since the surge of tens of thousands of troops thrown into the fight by U.S. President Barack Obama a year ago.
Big majorities want Hamid Karzai’s government to negotiate with the Taliban, regard corruption as endemic and believe Afghan government officials are pocketing much of the billions earmarked for aid and development. …
“Sentiment has shifted for the worse,” said the Afghan Centre for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research, which released the findings based on interviews with 1,691 Afghans. Impoverished and facing a raging Taliban insurgency, “Afghans have turned more negative” regarding U.S. and other foreign troops, it said.
Barely one in three Afghans believes the 100,000-plus foreign troops – a force now larger than the Soviet occupation army that failed to subjugate Afghanistan in the 1980s – can provide security. And that confidence level has dropped sharply since Mr. Obama ordered the surge a year ago. It is now barely half the level of five years ago.
Meanwhile, nearly 60 per cent of respondents want foreign soldiers to leave now or start leaving next summer – the date originally promised by Mr. Obama for the beginning of a pullout.
In one basic measure, just 43 percent of Afghans now express a favorable opinion of the United States, down 8 points to a new low; and fewer, 32 percent, rate the U.S. performance in Afghanistan positively, tying the low. Both are at about half of their peak in 2005.
Only 36 percent now express confidence in U.S. and NATO forces to provide security and stability in their area, down 12 points from last year and down by a vast 31 points since 2006. And one in four now blames the United States or its NATO allies for the country’s violence, more than double the level a year ago.
Backing for the surge of Western forces has cooled: Last year 61 percent of Afghans supported the U.S. and NATO sending additional troops to their country; today that’s fallen to 49 percent. And more now say the United States is playing a negative rather than a positive role in Afghanistan, 43 percent to 36 percent, a switch from last year.
For all the effort, the survey finds reports of Taliban activity on the rise — down in some areas, but up in more of them. And just 33 percent overall say the broadly unpopular Taliban have been weakened in the past year — down from the 40 percent who said so a year ago.