Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN in the Media – April 2013

7 min

Ghost money from MI6 and CIA may fuel Afghan corruption, say diplomats
The Guardian, 30 April 2013
This article refers to Kate Clark’s AAN blog on CIA operations in Afghanistan: ‘A report on Monday by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a thinktank in Kabul, said the latest such NDS-CIA operation, in Kunar province on 13 April, killed 17 civilians. Kate Clark, one of the network’s analysts, said: “It is one thing to conduct covert operations in a hostile country. I’m flabbergasted that the CIA is running these kind of covert operations in a friendly country. It runs counter to accountability, democracy and the rule of law, and is damaging what the US is trying to do. “The CIA puts certain things as a priority – whether someone is against al-Qaida, for example – and damn the rest.”‘

NATO says war against Afghan’s Taliban being won (sic)
AFP, 25 April 2013
AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted by AFP in response to General Dunford’s upbeat assessment that the war against the Taleban is being won: “ISAF appears to have a strategy of optimism. It tries to find statistics to bolster the case that it is winning the war.” For example the rise in cellphone use, she told AFP, is due to the spread of new technology, not the fall of the Taliban.”The Taliban are shifting targeting from foreign forces to Afghan forces and civilians connected with the government. You have to ask if the tide is really turning: it may not feel like that on the ground.” And: “Military analyst Gary Owen, in a blog posting on the AAN website, said attrition — the loss of a soldier through desertion, death or injury — was the most serious problem facing the Afghan army. He said it lost 27 per cent of its fighting force to attrition from October 2011 to September 2012.”

Afghan Army Bruised by Long Battle
Wall Street Journal, 24 April 2013
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini provides some topographic detail to this analysis of one of the recent ANA combat operations in Warduj district of Badakhshan: ‘The mountain passes of the district, one of the most isolated parts of Afghanistan, offer easy concealment and natural fighting positions … The terrain is a nightmare’.

Kabul: Changing Amid Uncertainty
The Diplomat, 23 April 2013
Article quotes one of Kate Clark’s older blogs: “To glimpse another major change to the city in recent years, one need only look to Kabul’s streets. Today a growing number of vehicles can be seen about town. According to the Afghanistan Analysts Network (ANN), a Kabul-based think tank, the city witnessed a tenfold increase in the number of vehicles on its roads from 2005 to 2010. Cars were almost entirely absent from Shahr-e Now, one of the capital’s main thoroughfares, as recently as 2002. There were even fewer vehicles on the road under the Taliban, who were notorious for confiscating them.”

Nato går – valmuerne kommer (not online)
Politiken (Denmark), 23 April 2013
AAN Advisory Board member Doris Buddenberg quoted here on reports of again increasing poppy cultivation in Afghanistan: ‘»I 80’erne startede produktionen i Hel- mand. På det tidspunkt var størstedelen kontrolleret af Akhunzada-klanen og de- res netværk af jordejere, smuglere, hand- lere og bønder, og klanen er der endnu. Kun under Taleban var de skræmt væk. Det er en del af problemet, at der aldrig er blevet grebet ind over for Akhunzada«, vurderer Doris Buddenberg.’

Traffic crackdown drives graft, Kabul cabbies say
Stars and Stripes, 22 April 2013
Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a nonprofit policy research organization, said the traffic crackdown exemplifies the Catch-22 situation that arises when a government with weak control over its officials tries to extend the rule of law; it often becomes just another opportunity for low-level bureaucrats to collect bribes. She said some drivers’ complaints could be exaggerated, either because they’re angry about being ticketed or because they’re not used to some traffic regulations being enforced, but corruption is almost certainly a part of the picture. “It would be nonsense to dismiss the reports of the taxi drivers and say there’s no corruption happening,” she said.

Operation ‘resolute Zurückhaltung’
Tageszeitung (online), 19 April 2013
Op-ed by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig in the Berlin daily on the German troop offer for NATO’s post-2014 mission, a shorter German version of his blog here today.

Kortspillet pakkes / Taleban og freden (not online)
Weekendavisen (Denmark), 19 April 2013
Two articles by Copenhagen-based journalist Jeppe Matsen, quoting extensively from an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about chances for a peaceful solution including the Taleban (in Danish)

‘Afghanistan ist eine politische Mission’
Deutsche Welle (online), 18 April 2013
Interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig regarding today’s announcement of offered post-2014 troop strength in Afghanistan (in German).

Karsai strebt Kontrolle der Wahlen an
Tageszeitung (Berlin), 17 April 2013
Article by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German), reporting the Afghan government’s latest attempt to put pressure on the country’s political parties, threatening them with suspension – ‘political harrassment before the elections’ -, and a parliamentary commission’s decision to drop two internationally-appointed members from the Electoral Complaints Commission.

Afghan opium cultivation likely to rise, UN reports
Stars and Stripes, 15 April 2013
‘Much of the money spent on efforts to combat the drug trade in Afghanistan has been wasted or siphoned off by corrupt politicians, hampering efforts to fight opium cultivation, Afghanistan Analysts Network co-director Thomas Ruttig said. Ruttig said the international community should recommit to fighting opium, as the effects of the trade are felt well beyond Afghanistan. “Drugs are harming our people and increasingly Afghans, too, whose addictions rates are rising,” he said. “But it is a political decision, whether you want to be serious about eradication — which then requires opening markets for alternative crops and a lot more — or whether it is mainly (paying) lip service.

Afghanistan Looks at Bumper Opium Crop, UN Reports
Hispanic Business, 15 April 2013
reprint of same day’s report in Stars and Stripes, with quotes from AAN’s Thomas Ruttig

Why Afghan peace talks with Taliban are stalled
Toronto Star, 10 April 2013
In this analysis of how the chances are for a peace deal with the Taleban in Afghanistan, Thomas Ruttig’s latest AAN blog about the Qatar office is quoted: ‘Kabul wants to avoid any sign that the Taliban were an equal party in the conflict, thereby undermining the Afghan government’s legitimacy as the only representative of the Afghan people. For the same reason, Kabul insists that the Taliban recognize the current constitution if they want to join talks.’

Das zähflüssige Endspiel des „Great Game“
Stimme Russlands (Russian state radio), 10 April 2013
In an analytical article (in German) about the West’s mission in Afghanistan, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted: Selbstverständlich darf man nicht alles in schwarzen Farben malen. Aber auch für den Optimismus gibt es wenig Anlass, meint Thomas Ruttig, Ko-Direktor der internationalen Forschungsorganisation „Afghanistan Analysts Network“ mit Niederlassungen in Berlin und Kabul: „Ich denke, dass die Bilanz des internationalen Engagements in Afghanistan gemischt ist“, sagte Ruttig im Gespräch mit der Stimme Russlands. „Aber die Tendenz ist eher negativ dabei. Ich versuche das aus dem Blinkwinkel der afghanischen Bevölkerung zu sehen. Und für die hat sich die Sicherheitslage nicht verändert. Die großen Hoffnungen, dass in Richtung Stabilität auch bei den Institutionen geht und sich die soziale Lage verbessert, haben sich nicht erfüllt. Natürlich hat das Wachstum in Afghanistan gegeben, aber der verteilt sich sehr ungleichmäßig. Das heißt, nur eine Minderheit hat wirklich wirtschaftlich und sozial von dem Milliardeneinsatz profitiert. Und ein Großteil der Zivilbevölkerung hat mit großen Problemen zu kämpfen nach wie vor.“

Security and aid work in militia-controlled Afghanistan
IRIN, 5 April 2013
The UNODC-related news agency looks at the impact of quasi-militias in Afghanistan and their impact and comes to the conclusion that their ‘abuses are a regular part of life, especially in the north and northeast’, and that ‘these groups complicate the delivery of aid and create insecurity for ordinary people, who are frequently confused by the assortment of armed ethnic gangs, village protection forces and semi-official militia’. Among NGO reps and other analysts, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that the most basic problem with these militias is the economy: ‘There is not enough money to employ these people. There is a surplus in the gun business, so the gun industry is more lucrative than, say, agriculture. If growing sugar beets were more profitable, then the militia would grow sugar beets. The whole intervention post-2001 has still not changed. We need to look at the intervention and question its effectiveness.’

Afghanistan: The Way to Peace
New York Review of Books, 4 April 2013
Anatol Lieven reviews three new books about Afghanistan, by Barney Rubin, Don Rassler/Vahid Brown and one edited by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann. He writes: ‘The first work that US officials should read in this regard [on Taleban talks] is the last chapter in Talibanistan, the Afghan expert Thomas Ruttig’s essay “Negotiations with the Taliban”—a model of lucid analysis. As Ruttig writes, central to the problem is the number of forces and persons involved. … I strongly support the argument of Thomas Ruttig that the first essential step for a US administration is to commit itself fully to a political solution, and not—as has too often been the case up to now—try to use talks to split and weaken the Taliban rather than reach agreement with the organization as a whole.’

Taliban attack Afghan courthouse, leaving 53 dead
AP, 3 April 2013
In this report about the latest complex Taleban attack in Farah province, Fabrizio Foschini’s AAN blog is quoted: ‘The Taliban seem to be exploiting the opium harvest and the unpopular eradication efforts by the government to further establish their presence.’

Fifty-three dead after suicide bombers attack courthouse in Afghanistan: reports
Reuters, 3 April 2013
Article quotes recent AAN blog: “Farah province, where U.S. and Italian troops are stationed, saw a sharp deterioration in security last year, with increased targeting of government officials and a regrouping of insurgent networks, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN). The vast distances between towns in Farah, sandwiched between Helmand and Herat, may allow for more Taliban gains in the near future, AAN said in a report last month.”

Obama Opacity on Afghanistan Seen Risking Strong Taliban
Bloomberg, 3 April 2013
In an analytical article about President Obama’s Afghanistan policy, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted on the rising number of Afghan asylum seekers as another probable indication of increasing unease among the country’s citizens and pointing to media ‘reports of Afghan officers’ families seeking asylum in India’.

Afghanistan, Pakistan Struggle To Find Common Ground
NPR, 2 April 2013
Looking at the latest slump in bilateral Afghan-Pakistani relations, AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted here as saying: ‘”This is like a pendulum that keeps swinging, I mean, it’s been swinging for the last few years,” says Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. She says the Afghan government has long blamed its neighbor for saying one thing and doing another, but it’s a two-way street. “From the Pakistani side, I think they’ve also been faced with a vacillating Afghan government,” she says.’