What Afghans think of the war: 'Why are you Americans here?'
Ten years ago, the US invaded Afghanistan to eliminate a terrorist haven and set up a stable government. But today, many Afghans don’t know why the US invaded, have never heard of 9/11, and are increasingly suspicious.
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Though concerns about Israel are predominately confined to the Arab world and not a major topic of conversation in Afghanistan, Mr. Rafi also accuses the US of wanting to pave the way for an Israeli occupation here.Skip to next paragraph
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The most popular conspiracy theory for Israeli regional domination, based on a fraudulent document, says that Israeli territorial ambitions extend to the Euphrates River in Iraq, about 1,000 miles from Afghanistan's western border. There is presently only one known Jewish man living in all of Afghanistan: Zablon Simintov. His family frequently urges him to move to Israel.
US reassurances that troops are in Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist havens seem increasingly suspect to Afghans after Mr. bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in May, and even more so now that Al Qaeda's No. 2 was killed there in late August.
Even for those who've heard America's message about why the US must stay in Afghanistan, strong indications that Al Qaeda has relocated to Pakistan – combined with a civilian death toll that has risen with each new year – help fuel suspicion and misinformation.
"After Osama and a lot of other Al Qaeda leaders were killed [in Pakistan], still America is here in Afghanistan," says Saleh Mohammed Saleh, a member of the Afghan parliament from Kunar. "This makes the Afghans not trust anyone and be suspicious of the activities of America."
Living in a nation transformed
Today, the actual causes of the war are largely irrelevant to many Afghans who now live in a nation that has been completely transformed by the US presence.
"At the beginning, it had a very positive effect for our business and it was a shining moment for us," says Majeed Uzbek, who sells handicrafts in Kabul. "They came because the Taliban did this attack and they've done a lot of rebuilding. This was 100 percent good for Afghanistan."
Indeed, foreign aid in Afghanistan has had such a massive impact that the World Bank now estimates that international military and donor spending accounts for 97 percent of the country's gross domestic product. This estimate has triggered concerns among US policymakers that the Afghan economy might collapse as foreign spending decreases in Afghanistan.
But many Afghans complain that only a select few actually see any monetary benefit from the war.
"Only the people in the cities are happy with the American presence, because their lives have changed a little – along with the warlords who got rich during this period," says Shah Mahmoud Hamdard, a pharmacist in Uruzgan Province in the south of Afghanistan. " But if you go to rural areas, especially Uruzgan, the life of the people has not changed or maybe got worse during these past 10 years."