Intelligence: Ground Truth In Afghanistan


March 6,2008: Sometimes it takes an outsider to let all the players know what's really going on. Case in point is a recent survey conducted by a Western NGO in Afghanistan. Some 500 people in six provinces were queried. The answers track with what the government and NATO civil affairs operators already know, but it's still information that never seems to get out to the Western public.

For example, when asked what the most common source of conflict was, the response was; 50 percent said land issues (largely for grazing animals), 43 percent said water (Afghanistan is a dry place) and 34 percent said family matters (feuds often go on for generations.)

Asked who they feared the most, the response was; 16 percent the Taliban, 14 percent warlords, 13 percent said criminals and 11 percent said NATO and American troops.

How do Afghans try and resolve disputes? 55 percent go to a local or tribal council, 36 percent would go to the nearest police, while 21 percent would go to the district of provincial official.

What this reinforces is that rural Afghanistan is very self contained and used to taking care of themselves. Outsiders, including the Taliban, are seen as a threat. Problems, and solutions, are seen as local. Anyone wanting to reach these people, must also think local. It's sort of like the old American saying, "all politics is local."




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