Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta / Washington Post – 2009-02-10 22:25:01
WASHINGTON (February 10, 2009) — A new poll in Afghanistan shows sagging support for US efforts in that country, with air strikes a chief concern. A quarter of Afghans say attacks on American or allied forces are justifiable, double the proportion saying so in late 2006.
The poll, the fourth conducted by ABC News and other media partners in Afghanistan since 2005, also shows plummeting support for President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government and a sharp decline in the proportion who said the nation is heading in the right direction.
The vast majority of people there consider public corruption to be a problem, and there are widespread complaints about the availability of jobs and electricity, and concerns about prices.
But it’s security concerns that galvanize public opinion most directly.
In the new poll, the proportion of Afghans rating their security positively fell to 55 percent from 72 percent in 2005, and views of the direction of the country declined in parallel. Seventy percent of those who said the nation is off on the wrong track cited security as a central concern.
At the same time, ratings of US forces have declined precipitously; 32 percent said the US and coalition forces are performing well, down from 68 percent in 2005. And fewer than half, 42 percent, have confidence in coalition forces to provide security in their areas.
Most controversial are US air strikes and civilian casualties at the hands of coalition forces. One in 5 said coalition forces have killed civilians in their area in the past year, and 1 in 6 report nearby bombing or shelling at the hands of US forces.
As the Obama administration turns its focus to the conflict in Afghanistan, Afghans are ambivalent on what the new leadership will bring. In the poll of 1,534 randomly selected Afghans conducted in late December through mid-January, about as many said Obama’s election will make things worse as said it will improve life there.
The poll was conducted by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul for ABC News, the BBC and ARD German television.
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