Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – April 2012

13 min

Atta Muhammad Noor, Afghan Governor, Criticizes U.S. Exit Plan
Huffington Post, 30 April 2012
In a blog by Joshua Hersh, there is an extensive quote of AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini about politicking in northern Afghanistan: ‘Analysts say that Noor may have other constituencies in mind as well. Fabrizio Foschini, a researcher with the Kabul-based Afghan Analysts Network, says that Noor has recently been toying with the idea of running for president, and can at least be expected to seek the leadership of his local political party. “As of now he has more to gain by retaining his northern feud and his business there,” said Foschini, who added that for practical reasons Noor is unlikely to take his criticisms of the Americans beyond simply rhetoric. “U.S. support gives him a strong card to play in the run-up to a presidential election: he could decide to play with his candidacy to raise his stakes in a future power-sharing with the new president,” Foschini said.’

Insurgency and Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan after bin Laden
ASAN website (Seoul), 26 April 2012
See a short summary of a panel with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council, Robert Lamb of CSIS and Jon Ryqvist of FOI (Swedish Defense Research Agency) as the moderator, held at a conference in SEoul (Republic of Korea). A video of the panel is to follow.

Geschichtsdebatte in Afghanistan: Die Mär von der natio­nalen Einheit (not online yet)
WOZ (Zurich), 26 April 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig looks at why the Afghan government has decided to print new history books for school that end in 1973 and leave out the last three decades of conflict.

‘Isaf vertelt halve waarheden of verzwijgt feiten’ 
De Standaard (Belgium), 26 April 2012
Belgium newspaper discusses latest AAN report.

The Business of War in Afghanistan
The Muslim News, 26 April 2012
In his article on ‘disaster capitalism’ in Afghanistan, Anthony Loewenstein observes that ‘Respected organizations such as The Afghanistan Analysts Network refuse to undertake commissioned work for clients, because they are worried their research may be co-opted for military means.’

US military criticised for secrecy over death of Afghan BBC correspondent
The Guardian, 25 April 2012
‘Isaf’s failure to talk frankly with the media and Afghan population caused needless distress to Omed’s family and friends and helped spark suspicions of a cover-up,’ said the AAn report’s author, Kate Clark. The truth about Khpulwak’s death emerged weeks later, when the results of a US investigation were published. A redacted version of the full conclusions was released only after a freedom of information request, the report concludes.

AAN: Afghan journalist’s death exposes risks
Pajhwok News Agency (Kabul), 25 April 2012
The Kabul-based news agency picks up AAN’s report about the shooting of an Afghan journalist during a combat operation conducted by foreign soldiers that ‘has exposed risks and challenges faced by local media while covering the decade-old conflict across volatile Afghanistan. Journalists, both local and foreign, not only face hostile enemy threats but occasionally become target of the protectors themselves, as in the case of Omaid Khpulwak, the young Afghan reporter killed by a US soldier in Uruzgan’. It quotes the report’s author, AAN’s Kate clark, as saying that the case ‘also raises the question of whether local journalists, who are the key figures in reporting in conflict zones in Afghanistan, can be better protected’.

Afghan journalist’s death must lead to better combat rules
Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 25 April 2012
Bob Dietz, the CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator, finds Kate Clark’s latest AAN report, ‘Death of an Uruzgan Journalist: Command Errors and Collateral Damage’, on the July 2011 shooting death of journalist Omaid Khpalwak going ‘beyond the investigation already conducted by the U.S.-led NATO forces who were responsible. Her report was important to write, and is important to read.’

Report Says NATO Misleads with ‘Afghan-led’ Security Label
Voice of America, 25 April 2012
In its report about the shooting of an Afghan journalist by an US soldier, the station picks up the fact from Kate Clark’s AAN report that international forces are misleading the public by calling military operations ‘Afghan-led,’ even when Afghan forces do not take a leading role.

Afganka ide boxovať na olympiádu
SME (Slovakia), 25 April 2012
In an article about a female Afghan boxer’s olympic dreams, AAN’s Sari Kouvo is quoted: ‘Veľmi málo dievčat a žien má čas či podporu rodiny na to, aby športovalo’.

Reading the Asia Foundation’s Afghan Voter Behavior Survey
Registan (blog), 25 April 2012
Oliver Lough does something very useful: without dismissing it altogether, he looks at TAF’s polling in Afghanistan and puts his finger on the point which is valid for all polls in Afghanistan: ‘Just make sure to keep in mind, as you leaf through all of those pleasing percentages, of the seething, multi-faceted mess that lies beneath.’ Refers to, among others, AAN’s ‘extensive examinations of local electoral politics’.

Nato accused of misleading reports on Afghanistan success
AP, 25 April 2012
The British ‘Independent’ picks up an AP report covering AAN’s latest paper, ‘Death of an Uruzgan Journalist’ and reports that that ‘Nato has been accused of misleading the public over success in Afghanistan by saying operations involving only its troops are led by local forces. The report by a Kabul-based think tank cuts to the heart of a public perception battle being waged in Afghanistan, where international troops are eager to highlight successes by Afghan forces and to downplay their own role as Nato draws down forces and hands over security to Afghan control.’

Afghanistan-Mission führt Öffentlichkeit über Einsatz in die Irre
SDA (Swiss news agency), 25 April 2012
Referring to Kate Clark’s latest AAN report, ‘Death of an Uruzgan Journalist’, the news agency concludes that some operations of which ISAF claims are conducted by Afghan troops,, still are led foreign soldiers.

Afghanistan going well, U.S. says
UPI, 25 April 2012
In this report, the news agency briefly refers to AAN’s latest report ‘Death of an Uruzgan Jornalist’: ‘The Afghanistan Analysts’ Network, a think tank in Kabul, issued a report questioning how much Afghan forces were actually leading military operations in the country. The report, states Voice of America, implies that international forces are misleading the public with claims about Afghan-led operations in the country.’

A New U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership: Should the Taliban Be Afraid?
Time magazine, 23 April 2012
Commenting on the possible impact of the agreement, Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, says that ‘[m]y sense is that it will soon become clear where the U.S. stands and that this is quite a noncommittal agreement. This agreement won’t convince the Taliban or anyone else that there’s going to be solid and sustained U.S. support, or clarify what that support will be. It is quite clear that the U.S. and other countries are quite conflicted and this agreement does nothing to clarify what their stance is.’

Afghanische Bodenschätze: Eine Billion Dollar, die den Hass schüren‎ “Wir haben hier keine Regierung, deren Priorität es ist, tatsächlich Geld für die Bevölkerung auszugeben”, sagt Martine van Bijlert, Afghanistan-Exper
Welt online (Berlin), 23 April 2012
‘We have no government here with the priority to spend money for the people’, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted here in an article about Afghanistan’s mineral resources, pointing to the example of the Ainak copper mine.

How to bring Afghan campaign to an end?
The Voice of Russia, 21 April 2012
Interview with AAN’s Martine van Bijlert in which she is asked for solutions and she discusses aid, withdrawal, scenarios and the problem of stereotypes. Audio and audio transcript.

Kamikaze per una notte
Left, 20 April 2012
The Italian magazine quotes Fabrizio Foschini on the attacks of 15 April in Kabul and on the ALP project.

US corpse abuse pictures fuel anger, NATO exit
AFP, 19 April 2012
Article quotes, among others, ICG’s Candace Rondeaux and AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: “In the West there was this strong idea that of course the troops came to fight terrorism but also came to help and to rebuild the country,” said Martine van Bijlert of the Afghan [sic] Analysts’ Network. “Incidents like this will feed into feelings at home of ‘What are we doing here?’,” she told AFP. For the Afghans, “it does confirm how people increasingly feel about the international and US troops — that ‘they don’t really care about us, that they don’t treat us with respect.”

Taliban sverger hevn etter nye skandalebilder
NPK, 19 April 2012
I Vesten har det vært en sterk oppfatning om at soldatene har kommet for å bekjempe terrorisme, men at de også skulle hjelpe og gjenreise landet, sier Martine van Bijlert, analytiker i The Afghan [sic] Analysts’ Network. Ting som dette vil være med på å bygge opp om hjemlige følelser av «hva er det vi driver med her», sier van Biljert [sic].

La force afghane mise à l’épreuve
Libération, 19 April 2012
In an article about the ANSF’s quality and France’s role in Sarobi district, AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is quoted as saying: ‘Les Afghans font beaucoup d’efforts pour protéger cette voie de communication. Mais il y a régulièrement des attaques contre les points de contrôle’

Oruzgan strongman a recipe for instability 
The Australian, 18 April 2012
The Australian quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert that she believes the Australian government is being “overly optimistic” about the province’s readiness for transition. “What people forget is Oruzgan’s main long-term problem is not necessarily the insurgency but internal conflict and struggles for power.” Should those struggles flare again – as they almost certainly will – it is not how well-trained the forces are but who controls them that will matter. “In that situation, whoever comes to power will use government forces for local conflicts rather than in the national interest,” says Ms van Bijlert. “In Oruzgan that’s really one of the main risks.”

Nel frattempo a Kabul…
Il manifesto, 18 April 2012
In the aftermath of the Kabul attacks, the Italian newspaper devotes a whole page to the situation in Afghanistan and relies extensively on AAN resources: it features an interview with Fabrizio Foschini and an article quoting recent blogs by Kate Clark and Gran Hewad.

Danmark står i spidsen for Afghanistan-indsamling
Politiken (Denmark), 18 April 2012
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted here as saying: ‘Brevet indeholder ikke garantier for bestemte beløb, og det er ellers netop den slags håndfaste aftaler, den afghanske regering har behov for. Også for at skabe en tro på det blandt befolkningen’.

Local warlord set to take power from Australians
ABC (Australia), 17 April 2012
Article on Mattiullah Khan in Uruzgan quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert (aka Martinne van B-lack): “Speaking from Kabul, Martine van Bijlert says handing power to strongmen like Matiullah Khan was never meant to be part of the plan for the new Afghanistan. MARTINNE VAN B-LACK: ‘Well if you would ask most Afghans in the area I think they would be saying no. This is not how you build a government that can answer to the people, that’s accountable, because you are creating people who are so powerful that they are above the law, they can do what they want.'”

Propaganda-Sieg der Taliban
tageszeitung (Berlin), 17 April 2012
In his commenting article on the Sunday Taleban attacks, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig calls them a ‘propaganda operation’ and a ‘propaganda victory’ for the Taleban and an ‘intelligence defeat’ for both the Afghan and NATO forces. Replicating the US approach of ‘talking and fighting’ at the same time, they should not be taken as a ‘no’ for a eventual continuation of talks.

Afghan forces hailed for response to raids 
The Witness, 17 April 2012
That so many militants managed to make it through Kabul’s “Ring of Steel” checkpoints and attack high-value targets in the heart of the capital has raised questions about lapses in security. Martine van Bijlert of the Afghanistan Analysts’ Network said it was “incredibly difficult to stop this type of attack”.

Welchen Rückhalt haben die Taliban?
Cicero online (Germany), 17 April 2012
In an article that asks how much support the Taleban have, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted on priorities the West should set before 2014: pushing the Afghan government for reforms, strengthen political institutions and improve services for the population.

Verste natt på ti år i Kabul
Aftenposten (Oslo), 17 April 2012
“Det er et relativt lavt dødstall etter et angrep som fikk så mye oppmerksomhet, men det er heller ikke antall drepte som er hovedmålet, mener Martine van Bijlert, senioranalytiker ved Afghanistan Analysts Network.”

Zweifel an der Fähigkeit der afghanischen Sicherheitskräfte
Deutschlandradio Kultur, 16 April 2012
The German radio station quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s interview in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel on the Taleban attacks on Sunday in Kabul and three other Afghan cities.

‘Die Taliban werden unterschätzt’
Tagesspiegel, 16 April 2012
Interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on Sunday’s Taleban attacks in four Afghan cities, the meaning of their suspension of talks and of Karzai’s announcement that there might be early presidential elections in 2013. In an accompanying article, he is quoted here as saying that ISAF and NATO – at least in their public statements – underestimate the Taleban. A week ago, ISAF spokesman Carsten Jacobson had stated that there are no signs for a ‘unified attack’ this spring. ‘He was mistaken. And so was the [ISAF and Afghan] intelligence.’

Insurgents who launched multiple Kabul attacks killed in overnight operation
The Telegraph, 16 April 2012
Martine van Bijlert on the attacks: “That they did manage to pull off simultaneous complex attacks shows quite a level of sophistication in preventing detection … so that would be a failure in intelligence. But having said that, in a big bustling city like Kabul it is incredibly difficult to stop this type of attack.”

Karzai blames NATO ‘failure’ in Afghanistan attacks 
McClatchy Newspapers, 16 April 2012
On Karzai’s comments that the attacks “were an intelligence failure for us and especially NATO”: His comments were in line with an ongoing narrative designed to reassure Afghans that “this will all be better” when foreign combat forces have left by the end of 2014, said Martine van Bijlert of the Afghan [sic] Analysts Network.

Grootste aanval Taliban in elf jaar
BNR Radio (Netherlands), 16 April 2012
Interview with Martine van Bijlert (in Dutch) on the Taleban assualt in Kabul that kept the city awake during the night.

Martine van Bijlert, spécialiste de l’Afghanistan, Réseau des Analystes d’Afghanistan
AFP (video), 16 April 2012
(Tired-looking) Martine van Bijlert talks about the implications of the recent Taleban attacks.

Ataques del domingo en Afganistán dejaron 47 muertos, 36 de ellos talibanes 
El Nuevo Herald, 16 April 2012
Pero estos nuevos ataques en una ciudad llena de puntos de control y de soldados y policías bien armados, aumentan los temores de los expertos sobre la evolución del conflicto. “El hecho de que hayan logrado lanzar simultáneamente ataques complejos demuestra cierto nivel de sofisticación en su habilidad para moverse sin ser detectados” en el corazón de este dispositivo, subraya Martine van Bijlert, de la Red de Analistas de Afganistán, un think tank especializado en este conflicto.

Intelijen NATO “Payah” (Jakarta), 16 April 2012
“Keberhasilan mereka memukul serangan rumit serentak itu menunjukkan tingkat cukup canggih dalam pelacakan pencegahan, sehingga itu adalah kegagalan sandi,” kata Martine van Bijlert dari Jaringan Pengulas Afganistan. “Tapi, dengan mengatakan itu, di kota besar ramai seperti Kabul, sangat sulit menghentikan serangan seperti itu,” katanya.

“Lenteoffensief taliban duidt op mislukking inlichtingendiensten”
De Morgen (Belgium), 16 April 2012
“Het feit dat ze erin geslaagd zijn om gelijktijdig een complexe aanval op poten te zetten, bewijst dat ze operaties kunnen plannen zonder dat iemand dat in de gaten heeft”, zegt Martine van Bijlert van het Afghanistan Analysts Network. Zij ziet vooral “een mislukking van de inlichtingendiensten”.

Attacks rattle Afghans ahead of NATO pull-out 
AFP, 16 April 2012
“I think the attacks were specifically designed to capture headlines. They were not designed to result in maximum casualties or maximum damage,” said Van Bijlert. “So they really managed in creating an impression of Kabul under siege, with relatively limited means. What it illustrates is how this is very much a war of perceptions and also how the Taliban understands that very well.”

Afghan Assaults Signal Evolution of a Militant Foe
New York Times, 16 April 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the attacks: “It’s always hard to stop small groups from doing things like this. But that they cannot stop them in Jalalabad, Kabul, Paktia, and Logar — which are all focus areas for U.S. troops — that is very striking,” he said, adding that whereas there have been complex attacks before, he could not remember an instance when there had been simultaneous ones in several provinces. Still, Mr. Ruttig cautioned against overstating the episode’s significance: “At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the Taliban are capable of taking over Afghanistan. But it is a sign the Taliban are here.”

Afghan Insurgents Strike Across Nation
Wall Street Journal, 16 April 2012
Martine van Bijlert on the recent attacks: “It’s really aimed at the war of perceptions, You try to start the fighting season with a bang and wipe away the claims that the Taliban haven’t been able to pull off their major offensive. It’s much more symbolic than tactical.”

Angriff auf das Herz Kabuls
Inforadio Berlin-Brandenburg, 16 April 2012
Listen to an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on Sunday’s Taleban attacks in Afghanistan (in German).

The large cracks in fortress Kabul
Reuters (blog), 16 April 2012
Reuters blog points to Martine’s blog on the recent attacks in Kabul and three provinces (as well as the excellent blog by EL Snarkistani): “While the jury is still out on the implications of Sunday’s attacks (for some excellent analysis read this blogpost or this piece by the Afghanistan Analysts Network) there is a sloppiness to security which gives pause for thought.”

Angriffe in Kabul und drei Provinzen
tageszeitung online (Berlin), 15 April 2012
Article by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German) about today’s attacks in Kabul and three provinces.

Assault on Kabul: Taliban claim attacks as show of strength
Christian Science Monitor, 15 April 2012
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert on the latest Taleban attacks: “There is the possibility of fighting and considering talking at the same time … the Taliban want to start the fighting season with a bang, and this is it. [The attacks were] specifically designed for grabbing headlines, without actually carrying out a fullout attack on these high profile targets. The key is to get into these abandoned buildings that are strategically placed, and start shooting.”

Mehrere Angriffe auf Kabul und die Provinzen
ARD Tagesschau (German TV), 15 April 2012
Watch a video on today’s Kabul attacks, with a statement of AAN’s Martine van Biljert saying that the Taleban’s main aim was to show that they are able to strike and to start the fighting season with a big bang.

Taliban starten Offensive in Afghanistan
Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten (Germany), 15 April 2012
The Potsdam daily reprints an article with quotes of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig from Berlin’s Tagesspiegel.

Afghan-American relations: Over to you
The Economist, 14 April 2012
“However, as Kate Clarke of the Afghanistan Analysts Network argues in a recent blog, although America has made significant concessions, the Afghan government is now far more at the forefront of the struggle against the Taliban, both in political and military terms.”

US-Afghan talks face tough hurdle over troops
AFP, 12 April 2012
AAN’s Kate Clark on the US-Afghan talks and the issue of immunity of US forces in Afghanistan:”I think it is unimaginable that the Americans would compromise on this and allow their people to be put through Afghan courts if they are accused of crimes. With the (agreements) on Bagram and on night raids we saw the US conceding a lot of ground to the Afghan government, but I cannot see them compromising on this.”

US gives Afghans control in deal on night raids
Jakarta Globe, 8 April 2012
Kate Clark on the night raids MoU: “It might mean it’s politically less sensitive — it’s a fact that both Afghans and foreign journalists care more when foreigners harm Afghans rather than Afghans harm Afghans.” The possibility of detention without trial was written into the document, she pointed out, describing it as “very worrying”. But she said the agreement “looks like a good deal” for the Kabul government. “The Afghan government has managed to get back some sovereignty.”

US cedes control on Afghanistan night raids: Kabul
AFP, 8 April 2012
Speaking before any written text of the agreement was released, Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network said it “looks like the Americans are making compromises” but warned the phrase “Afghan-led” was a “really vague term”.

Afghanistan’s ragtag militia a mixed blessing of high risk
The Australian, 6 April 2012
‘NATO and the US cannot talk enthusiastically enough about the ALP’, writes Amanda Hodge, ‘but it is intensely controversial among Afghans. Many elders refuse to support recruitment for fear it will create yet another generation of violent militia and warlords’. She quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig saying that ‘most ordinary Afghans see the ALP as just the latest incarnation of a long line of different quasi-militia projects’, pointing to the violent militia formed and backed during the Soviet occupation and whose warring for power in the 1990s heralded the Taliban regime.

NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan continues to raise doubts
Deutsche Welle (Engl), 5 Apil 2012
The English version of a German-language on the same day (see also there), quoting AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, among other experts, on the enteqal strategy. Writes the author: ‘It is difficult to find an independent observer who shares [ISAF’s] view.’

Wie einsatzbereit ist Afghanistans Armee?
Deutsche Welle, 5 April 2012
While ISAF declared it is ‘optimistic’ that the ANSF ‘will be able to take responsibility for the whole country by 2014’, the author of this article says that ‘it is ‘difficult to find any independent expert who shares this assessment’. Among the experts cited is AAN’s Thomas Ruttig who say about the ANP that ‘there are many former civil war militias in its rows who go shopping with the Kalashnikov and many prominent human rights abusers of the past, even in high positions’. On the ALP, he adds that at many places it deepens ethnic problems (in German).

La nuova faccia dei Taliban dopo 10 anni di guerra in Afghanistan
The Post internazionale (Italy), April 2012
The article summarises research about new developments in the Taleban movement by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig and Antonio Giustozzi.


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