Small Wars Journal

Report Shows Afghans Overwhelmingly Against Taliban Rule

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 9:40pm

Report Shows Afghans Overwhelmingly Against Taliban Rule by Carla Babb, Voice of America

A study obtained by VOA shows that Afghan citizens overwhelmingly oppose Taliban rule and believe their living conditions have improved over the last 10 years.

The study, conducted by the Kabul-based ATR (Assess, Transform and Reach) consulting firm, surveyed more than 4,200 Afghans from 11 provinces.

Taliban rule rejected

ATR Consulting says only 13 percent of Afghan men and less than 2 percent of Afghan women surveyed are willing to have the Taliban govern them.

The study reveals a geographic divide among Afghan men. Only 3 percent of those surveyed in northern provinces say they want to see the Taliban rule, but 27 percent of men in the country's south favor that option.

Alam Payind, the director of the Middle East Studies Center at the Ohio State University, tells VOA this difference is expected because the northern alliances have strongly opposed the Taliban for years.

"But in the southern areas, where mostly the Taliban came from," Payind says, "they want some sort of negotiations because they have learned that without including Taliban in future negotiations, there will be no peace in Afghanistan."

While this desire for a peace agreement with the Taliban is widespread in Afghanistan, almost half of Afghans do not think the Taliban would respect a peace deal if one is ever reached with the government.

The ATR consulting report shows the most common answer to why Afghans believe the Taliban is fighting in their country is that Taliban insurgents are serving as proxies for other countries. One in four think the Taliban is fighting against foreign occupation.

Living conditions, government trust up

Overall, the results show Afghans believe their living conditions have improved in the last 10 years. Men in southern provinces are the exception; only about one-third say conditions have improved, with another third saying conditions are the same and the rest believing conditions have worsened.

A vast majority of the citizens surveyed (80 percent) believe the government is in control, but as many as 62 percent of rural respondents from southern provinces believe territorial control is shared with Taliban forces.

The survey also reveals that nearly three-fourths of Afghans trust the Afghan National Army, with about two-thirds of citizens trusting the Afghan National Police. Women are by far more trusting of security forces, with 82 percent trusting the ANA and 74 percent trusting the ANP.

International support

When asked about the role of the international community in Afghanistan, survey participants ranked financial assistance and support for the Afghan National Security Force as top priorities. More than one-third of men in southern provinces rejected any future involvement of the international community.

Payind questioned how secure the country can be once almost all of the International Security Assistance Force has withdrawn at the end of this year.
"If the 150,000 foreign troops and the Afghan troops could not bring stability and peace to Afghanistan, how can only about 6,000 or 7,000 or 8,000 residual forces really do the task?" Payind says. "So unless there is a political solution to the problem, I don't think that there is a military solution."

With a new round of presidential elections this April, there is also a geographic divide on the international community's role in the Afghan polling process. Only six percent of the country's south prioritized international help, compared to 41 percent in the north.

Roshan Noorzai from VOA's Afghan Service contributed to this report.