Juan Cole looks at civilian attitudes in Helmand Province and Qandahar, Afghanistan

Juan Cole’s post “Suspect Arrested in Times Square Bomb Plot; Afghan anger at NATO Grows” is, for him, typically enlightening.

He uses the results of a new poll by the International Council on Security and Development to look at civilian attitudes towards the Taliban and the Western forces. Cole writes

“The report finds that “61% of those interviewed feel more negative about NATO forces than before the military offensive. ” We aren’t winning hearts and minds, folks.”

and goes on to draw the poll respondents believe that many young men joined the Taliban as a result of NATO’S Marjah campaign.

Other interesting points include:

    Anger is widespread among Pashtuns (at least among men as the poll was taken among men) and half are angry at NATO while only 9% are angry with the Taliban
    Widespread belief that the Taliban would return to Marjah
    Cole quotes the report:

    “The principal demand expressed by 70% of Afghans interviewed is the immediate provision of help from NATO, the international community and the Afghan government: they expect shelter and food for the refugees, the rebuilding of destroyed property and the clearing of landmines.”

and concludes that

“Although the respondents do want security and two-thirds do hope NATO will clear insurgents from the road to the capital of Kabul from their region, and even say they would a similar clearing in Qandahar (!), given their other responses I conclude that they want security imposed in a way that does not displace people or kill innocents. I.e. they want better and less intrusive policing, not a military attack on a civilian area.”

Cole writes that

I conclude from this sounding that the planned US invasion of Qandahar city is likely to be a disaster that turns millions of Western Pashtuns against the US and NATO.

As is always the case with Juan Cole, this post is well worth reading.

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