Following the British Army’s withdrawal from Helmand this week, the British public deliver a damning verdict on the war in Afghanistan
It has been a historic week for Afghanistan, as British troops completed the latest step of their withdrawal – handing military operations in Helmand to the US – and Afghan citizens went to the polls to elect a new president in the countries first peaceful transfer of democratic power.
But 13 years on from 2001's US-led invasion, in the final year of UK troop deployment, the British public's view of the war in Afghanistan is unflinchingly negative.
YouGov research for the Sunday Times reveals that just one in four (25%) believe British involvement in Afghanistan has been worthwhile, while the majority (56%) feel the conflict has not been worthwhile and 19% don't know. The sentiment is consistent across the political spectrum; at least 50% of voters of all parties believe the conflict has not been worthwhile.
The public also have reservations about the Afghan’s ability to maintain order, as two-thirds (67%) think the Afghan government will not be able to maintain peace and security in the country following the withdrawal of Western troops and 65% feel it is likely that the Taliban will return to power.
Seven million out of 12 million elligible voters lined up to vote in Afghanistan yesterday, in the face of Taliban vows to disrupt proceedings. More than 350,000 Afghan troops were stationed to prevent attacks on polling stations and civilians, who were warned by the Taliban that they would be targeted if they attempted to vote.