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Afghanistan’s Security and Development: A grassroots, field-research perspective Jorrit Kamminga Workshop: Civil-Military Interaction Contributing to a Comprehensive Approach from an Experimentation Perspective 9 December 2010. About the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS).
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ICOS is an international, independent policy think-tank working to combine grassroots research and policy innovation at the intersections of security, development, counter-narcotics and public health issues.
ICOS is a project of the Network of European Foundations’ Mercator Fund. By developing projects on core global social issues, the objective of the NEF-Mercator Fund is to generate innovative ideas to respond to key global challenges.
The Network of European Foundations is a compact and flexible not-for-profit international organisation located in Brussels. Comprising fourteen foundations, NEF acts as an operational platform for the development of joint initiatives by foundations and other types of organised philanthropy.
Independent policy think-tank with no official linkages to governments or international organisations;
Grassroots field research and policy analysis in the fields of development, security, and counter-narcotics;
Investigating the interaction between military and civilian policies on the ground;
Policy recommendations for improved coordination of military and development strategies in Afghanistan and other (post)conflict zones.
The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) has been conducting studies in conflict zones since 2007. In this time, ICOS has carried out over 20,500 interviews across Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. This fieldwork has examined the root causes of current crises, in order to help achieve measurable and direct policy results.
Previous ICOS Conflict Zone field research includes:
Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables (November 2010);
Afghanistan: Relationship Gap: (July 2010);
Operation Moshtarak: Lessons Learned (May 2010);
Iraq - Angry Hearts and Angry Minds (June 2008);
Chronic Failures in the War on Terror - From Afghanistan to Somalia (April 2008);
Afghan and Somali Views on the United States Presidential Elections 2008 (April 2008);
On a Knife Edge: Rapid Assessment Field Survey, Southern and Eastern Afghanistan (May 2007).
Geographical focus of the field work sometimes limited by the security environment;
Interviewees willing to participate yet mindful of insurgent and government presence in the area;
Outspoken about the general situation in the country yet sometimes reluctant to evaluate openly local and national political actors;
Many Afghans eager to express their views, needs, and frustrations;
Grassroots interviews at regular intervals crucial for evaluation of trends in Afghan public opinion and to develop targeted, comprehensive approach.
Trip planning and organisation;
Development, testing and fine-tuning of the questionnaires;
Forming research teams in the field;
Analysis of data;
Presentation of mainfindingstomilitarycommunity;
Presentation of mainfindingstointernational media and policycommunity.
1) Grassroots approach to Afghan perceptions: asking what people feel, think, need and desire;
2 ) Evaluation: comprehensive assessment of the situation in Afghan communities targeted by Taliban recruitment;
3) Policy solutions: developing civilian policies linked to the existing military strategies, as part of the comprehensive approach.
Post-Lisbon: Transition calendar has been established;
Learning from or within Afghanistan?
Is there enough time to improve the comprehensive approach on the ground?
Democratization process seriously under threat
Future with us vs future with Taliban/Al Qaeda
March: 527 interviews in Helmand and Kandahar
June: 552 interviews in Helmand and Kandahar
October: 1500 interviews in Helmand, Kandahar, Panjshir and Parwan
Interviewer reads: “On September 11 2001, Al Qaeda attackers hijacked planes in the United States which were full of ordinary passengers, including women and children. They flew these planes, full of people, into two tall buildings in the city of New York. They destroyed both buildings, which were full of ordinary people.
The attacks killed 3000 innocent citizens, including Muslims. They were organised and directed by Al Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden, who was then living in Afghanistan protected by the Taliban government.
The American government asked the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden. They refused, so the Americans and their allies NATO attacked the Taliban, and came into Afghanistan to look for Osama Bin Laden and overthrew the Taliban.”
Interviewer reads: “NATO is an alliance of lots of foreign countries, including the United States. If one member of the alliance is attacked, all other members have a duty to join them in the response.
So because the United States was attacked the other foreigners, like Canadians, British and Dutch, are also in Afghanistan.”
Afghans do not understand why we are there;
Military operations have provoked anger, disillusionment and more hostility;
Civilian casualties and refugee flows are seen as consequences of the international presence;
We need “Dramatic Positive Local Actions”;
Symbolic cultural and political acts to increase support for the international community’s presence.
We should deal directly with the Afghan people
International Community and NATO-ISAF
Afghan Government and Afghan Elites
The Afghan People
Tackling the insurgency recruitment by providing the youth with a sustainable future, social empowerment and a stake in the society:
Meet Negative Impact with a Positive Impact
Positive Impact must be greater than Negative Impact
ICOS field research has revealed that supporting young men to get married is perceived by Afghan interviewees as one of the key factors for limiting Taliban recruitment.
Providing financial assistance to cover the high costs of a dowry and a wedding would provide them with a stable family situation and socio-economic responsibilities, reducing the risks of Taliban recruitment.
Providing young Afghans with a sense of social achievement, belonging and purpose:
Land titling is designed to help or facilitate landless poor purchase land through grants. It usually involves the redistribution of state-owned land.
In Afghanistan this would increase land ownership, create sustainable households, and help inoculate the youth against Taliban recruitment.
Each substantial military operation since 2006 has caused new flows of internally displaced people.
Since 2006 many new IDP camps, especially in the south.
Makeshift refugee camps are overcrowded, lack of sufficient food, medical supplies and shelter.
Symbolic failure of our “hearts and minds” approach.
Solution: military should deliver humanitarian aid and assistance.
Poppy cultivation stable (123,000 hectares);
Opium production down 48% (3,600 metric tons)
1.6 million of Afghans directly dependent on the illegal opium economy.
No structural, short term solutions.
Alternative livelihood programmes take time.
Taliban earns roughly US$ 125 million a year from the illegal opium economy.
Poppy for Medicine is a combination of a classic counter-narcotics policy addressing illegal poppy cultivation and opium production.
It is an economic development tool aiming at reducing Afghanistan´s dependence on the illegal opium economy, and a counter-insurgency instrument tackling the recruitment base of the insurgency.
“Externally, funding originates in Islamic states…
Internally, a significant portion of funds are derived from opium trade or other illicit activities, such as timber smuggling and illegal chromite mining in RC-East.”
Source: The Report to Congress on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, November 2010