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Feb 10th, 2009


Poll: U.S., Kabul Government Losing Ground

Obama weighing whether to double troop numbers in country

Image: U.S. Col. Greg Julian and village elders
U.S. Col. Greg Julian listens to village elders in Inzeri village in Kapisa province in the Tagab Valley, Afghanistan, in this Jan. 27, 2009 AP file photo. U.S. commanders distributed $40,000 to relatives of people killed in a recent U.S. raid. (Photo credit: Jason Straziuso / AP)


Feb. 10, 2009

WASHINGTON – Support for the Kabul government and the United States and European troops trying to bolster it against insurgents is plummeting among the Afghan people, a new poll reports.

The decline is striking particularly in the last year, the poll shows, even as the Obama administration and NATO allies weigh moves to strengthen forces in the struggle with Taliban and other radical groups.

President Barack Obama has assigned high priority to the conflict and the administration is weighing whether to send another 30,000 U.S. troops there, almost doubling the 32,000 present [in Afghanistan].

His election, however, does not appear to hold much promise among the Afghan people: Two in 10 think he will make things better for the Afghan people and nearly as many think he will make things worse. The rest either expect no change or are waiting to see.

The poll, conducted by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV found, for instance, that the number of Afghans who say their country is headed in the right direction has dropped from 77 percent in 2005 to 40 percent now. That new and lower level is the first time less than half the Afghans polled were found to approve.

On top of that decline, while 83 percent of Afghans expressed a favorable opinion of the United States in 2005, just 47 percent feel that way now.

There was an 18 percent drop this year alone, according to polling results.

Other negative findings include:

  • While 68 percent of Afghans polled in 2005 credited the United States with a good performance, the new approval figure is just 32 percent, a drop of more than half.
  • NATO, which is allied with the United States, has the support of only 37 percent of Afghans, the poll showed.
  • As for the central government in Kabul, while 83 percent of Afghans approved of President Hamid Karzai and 80 percent of the government in 2005, when the polling began, that support has slid to 52 per cent for Karzai and 49 percent for the government.
  • There is strong complaint about U.S. and NATO air strikes, with 79 percent of Afghans saying they are unacceptable, that the risk to civilians outweighs the value in fighting insurgents.

The poll was based on in-person interviews with a random national sample of 1,534 Afghan adults from Dec. 30, 2008 to Jan. 12, 2009. Field work was done by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research in Kabul. The interviews were conducted by 176 interviewers in 34 supervised teams and the results have a 2.5-point error margin.

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Related story

Afghan villagers threaten U.S. troops over civilian deaths

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Conflict in Iraq video

Ricks on change in Iraq (NBC “Meet the Press,” Feb. 8, 2009) – The Washington Post’s Tom Ricks, author of a new book on Iraq, “The Gamble,” talks about the changes he’s seen in that region and answers questions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (10:19)

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Related story

U.S. senator seeks Bush-era ‘truth commission’

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IRAQ UPDATE

Suicide Car Bomber Kills 4 U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

Attack in Mosul deadliest against U.S. forces this year


Feb. 9, 2009

A suicide car bomber struck a U.S. patrol in northern Iraq on Monday, killing four American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter in the deadliest single attack against U.S. forces in nine months.

The blast occurred as U.S. vehicles were passing near an Iraqi police checkpoint in Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city and the last major urban battleground in the war against al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgents. …

A U.S. statement said three U.S. soldiers were killed at the scene of Monday’s attack. A fourth soldier and the interpreter died of wounds at a military hospital, the U.S. said. …

It was the deadliest single attack against U.S. troops since May 2, 2008, when four Marines were killed in a roadside bombing in Anbar province, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed Jan. 26 when two helicopters collided in the air near the northern city of Kirkuk, but U.S. officials said the crash did not appear [to be] a result of hostile fire.

At least 4,243 U.S. military members have now died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Despite a sharp drop in bombings, shootings and killings, security controls remain intense throughout much of the country. The U.S. military has expressed concern that violence could flare again because of the slow pace of political agreements among the country’s ethnic groups. …

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Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Feb. 9, 2009, as reported by Reuters:

MOSUL – Four U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed, and other people wounded, including two policemen, when a suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. military patrol in western Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said. The attack occured near a police checkpoint.

MOSUL – Police said they found the body of a 16 year-old teenage girl from the Yazidi religious minority, slain in northern Mosul.

KIRKUK – A policeman was wounded by a roadside bomb that targeted a police patrol in Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – U.S. forces killed a man on Sunday when he threw a grenade at their patrol in Mosul, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – Seven people were wounded on Sunday night when a mortar round landed in a courtyard in the Kadhimiya district of northwestern Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen in a speeding car shot dead a taxi driver on Sunday in Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded two children in eastern Mosul on Sunday, police said.

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