Karl F. Inderfurth

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Afghanistan’s newly inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, appears to be off to a good start with the Afghan people. He has announced a series of new initiatives and adopted a hands-on style of governing, including surprise visits to military posts, police stations and hospitals. A recent survey by Afghan pollsters found that more than 8 out of 10 Afghans approve of his performance in his first month in office.

But Mr. Ghani and his partner and chief executive in the new unity government, Abdullah Abdullah, will have their work cut out for them in maintaining high approval ratings given the severity of the problems confronting the Afghan people, as identified in a survey directed by the Asia Foundation in Kabul that is to be released Tuesday.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the date for the drawdown of NATO forces from Afghanistan approaches, an atmosphere of optimism is being created, mainly in the Western media, about the prospects of a reasonably successful transition to a stable and eventually prosperous Afghanistan.

Much is being read into the manner in which Afghan national security forces handled simultaneous Taliban attacks on several targets in Kabul in April. But those incidents, no doubt competently dealt with by the Afghan forces, should not lead to any definitive conclusions regarding their capability to face up to the insurgency after 2014.

The security forces should, and probably will, be better equipped and trained by then, but it would be prudent not to be overconfident about their ability.…  Seguir leyendo »

After almost 10 bloody years, it is the beginning of the endgame in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden drew America into Afghanistan; his death will be seen by many as the strategic rationale to depart. Even before this game changer occurred, the talk in Washington and other capitals was focusing on troop withdrawals, political settlements and negotiations with the Taliban.

For many in the region, however, Bin Laden’s demise is seen as a harbinger of more ominous developments to come: a vacuum created by the pullout of Western forces, the intensification of long-established regional rivalries, and a subsequent rise in instability inside Afghanistan itself.…  Seguir leyendo »

One is constantly reminded of the grim realities of Afghanistan today, a country entering its 10th year of war with a bloody and brutal insurgency and a government in Kabul commonly viewed as corrupt and ineffective.

But there is another perception of what is taking place in Afghanistan that should be taken into account — what the Afghans themselves think of their current situation. A recent poll reveals that many Afghans actually believe things are getting better — slowly, to be sure, but improving despite the odds.

The survey was directed by the Asia Foundation in Kabul. It was the sixth public opinion poll conducted by the foundation since 2004, providing a snapshot of public opinion in Afghanistan over time.…  Seguir leyendo »