The battle for the hearts and minds of Afghans in the key southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand is still going poorly, as a new poll from ICOS titled “The Relationship Gap” details massive local opposition to the international forces in principle and resistance to the idea of a NATO -led offensive against the region.
74% of the people polled believe that it is wrong to work with the foreign troops, and 70% believe that the military actions in their regions are bad for the average Afghan. 59% were opposed in general to any new NATO offensive against Kandahar.
The data casts a considerable shadow over the high profile visit of large numbers of NATO foreign ministers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to Kabul next week, and will leave them struggling to sell the idea of the war being something done for the Afghan people, rather than to them.
ICOS concludes in their report that NATO needs “a guarantee of fidelity from both the Afghan government, and the Afghan people” for the war to be a success, and after nearly nine years of war in the nation that result is looking not only unlikely, but downright impossible.