Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In the Media – January 2012

10 min

Trickreiches Tauziehen um die Taliban
tageszeitung (Berlin), 31 January 2012
In this article of his, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig looks at the latest developments in attempts for a political solution with the Taleban: the US-Afghan irritations about the Qatar office, attempts for a US-Taleban prisoner exchange and President Karzai’s attempt to create his own Taleban channel via Saudi Arabia, contradicting the Qatar channel. See also Thomas’ blog on the AAN website on this issue, in English.

‘Una negociación bien llevada en Afganistán podría dar un acuerdo de paz en unos dos años’
RTVE, 31 January 2012
An interview with former UN and EU special representative to Afghanistan and AAN Advisory Board chairman Francesc Vendrell (in Spanish).

Las mujeres afganas alzan su voz de cara a la salida de las tropas internacionales en el año 2014
RTVE, 31 January 2012
The Spanish television’s website reports about the conference jointly organised by AAN and ASDHA in Madrid, discussing challenges of NATO’s transition strategy, quoting Martine van Bijlert, Francesc Vendrell and Rangina Hamidi.

Dialog mit den Taliban: Klandestines Tauziehen
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 31 January 2012
‘Beobachtern wie Thomas Ruttig vom „Afghanistan Analysts Network“ wird aber auch für denkbar gehalten, dass Kabuls „andere Anstrengungen“ real sind, und sich die Taliban trotz anderslautender Versicherungen auf einen zweiten Gesprächskanal einlassen könnten, um die Verhandlungspartner gegeneinander auszuspielen. […] Thomas Ruttig stellt überdies die Enttarnung dreier BND-Mitarbeiter in Peshawar in Zusammenhang mit einer möglichen pakistanischen Kurswende. Die Ausweisung der deutschen Geheimdienstmitarbeiter könnte die „Rache“ dafür gewesen sein, dass Berlin am Zustandekommen der Qatar-Prozesses beteiligt war, schrieb er am Sonntag.’

Afghans Fear Downturn as Foreigners Withdraw
New York Times, 31 January 2012
“It is a bubble economy, and people will lose jobs when it deflates,” said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, about the current Afghan economic situation which is mainly based on external resources.

Francesc Vendrell: ‘España tiene ya poco que hacer en Afganistán’
Heraldo de Aragon, 31 January 2012
Article covering the Afghanisan conference organised by ASDHA and AAN in Madrid on 31 January, with extensive quotes of Francesc Vendrell, ‘diplomático español con una extensa carrera en Naciones Unidas es actualmente presidente del comité asesor de la Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN)’.

Fear drives new front in Afghan peace talks
AFP, 30 January 2012
Commenting on a planned new contact between the Afghan government and the Taleban via Saudi Arabia, AAN’s Kate Clark comments: ‘It looks like both Pakistan and Afghanistan have been concerned that they will be outflanked by what’s been happening between the US and the Taliban and it looks like a new front on peace is opening up. One might think it is good to have everyone talking to each other but I think there is a danger of confusion. When you have all these different players trying to open up talks with the Taliban it might look to the Taliban like a deliberate ploy, an attempt to divide and rule or to get some advantage.’

Can NATO force weather France’s faster exit?
AP, 29 January 2012
Asked by the French news agency if France’s break with the coalition could spark a wider split, Kate Clark, AAN senior analyst, said it could be troublesome for countries deploying troops to Afghanistan. While the U.S. contributes the bulk of troops, any cracks in the coalition could dampen morale of all foreign forces on the battlefield, she said. ‘The foreign troops have been here for 10 years. That’s a long time. There’s a certain war-weariness among the voters of a great many of those countries.’

Taliban willing to compromise, Afghan negotiators say
Reuters, 27 January 2012
Article gives a slightly too positive spin to Martine van Bijlert’s response to the High Peace Council’s assertion that the current-day Taleban is ready to compromise (Martine van Bijlert, of respected independent think-tank Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul, said no one could assume that talks with the Taliban would not work. “But at the same time, we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” she said. “There seems to be a real chance at the moment. The high council has an interest in optimism of course, given their role in the process. But whether it can work is a fine balance. There is not an option not to try.”)

A nemzetközi közösség még nem érte el a célját Afganisztánban
MTI (Hungary), 27 January 2012
The official Hungarian news agency quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig and other participants of a Round Table in Budapest (among them Hikmet Cetin and Afghan Ambassador to Brussels Homayun Tondar) from their presentations on Afghanistan’s ‘post-ISAF’ future: ‘Thomas Ruttig, a politikai kutatásokkal foglalkozó, kabuli székhelyű Afghanistan Analysts Network (Afganisztán Elemző Hálózat) társigazgatója szerint az elmúlt tíz-tizenkét év mérlegét megvonva meg kell állapítani, hogy ennyi idő nem volt elég a gyökeres változás eléréséhez Afganisztánban. Több szempontból azonban eredményesnek tekinthető az elmúlt időszak, megerősödött a civil társadalom és a magánszektor, valamelyest javult az oktatás, az egészségügyi ellátás és az infrastruktúra helyzete, de még mindig van mit tenni ezeken a területeken is – fogalmazott. ‘ (According to Thomas Ruttig, an analyst with the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network, the conclusion we must draw from the past 10-12 years is that this time was not enough to achieve fundamental change in Afghanistan [which I did not say]. “Though this period can be considered a success for improving civil society, the private sector, health care, education, and infrastructure [which I quoted from Soraya Sobhrang]], there is still much to do in all these areas,” Ruttig said.)

Truppen-Reduzierung: Der Anfang vom Ende in Afghanistan
Berliner Morgenpost, 26 January 2012
In an article about the extension of the German troops’ mandate for Afghanistan, the Berlin daily quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (from a source not given) on his criticism that the disarmament of the militias has not been successfully implemented after the 2001 Bonn agreement.

Verlängertes Afghanistan-Mandat: Abzug bis 2014 – Was kommt danach? (Germany), 26 January 2012
Listen to a interview of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on German internet radio about the extension of the mandate of the German troops in Afghanistan in the Bundestag and about Afghanistan’s post-2014 future.

Bergbaurausch am Hindukusch
WoZ (Zurich), 26 January 2012
Thomas Ruttig’s article on the mining boom in Afghanistan, its role as Western-promoted ‘silver bullet’ to solve unsustainability problems of the Afghan transitions strategy and its potential to fuel the conflict instead of calming it down.

U.S. envoy in Kabul denies partition rumours 
The Globe and Mail, 24 January 2012
Article quotes Thomas Ruttig’s blog that describes the recent joint statement by Northern Afghan politicians and US Congressmen as “a push for decentralization [that] was probably never made so prominently.”

Les soldats français tués par un «taliban infiltré»
Le Figaro, 23 January 2012
An article in the French daily about the killing of French soldiers by an ANA soldier quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s article in Berlin’s tageszeitung, on widespread traumatisation in Afghanistan: ‘«Selon l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), “une majorité” d’Afghans souffrent de dépression et d’angoisses et “presque la moitié” présentent des symptômes post-traumatiques et de stress ; cela s’applique bien sûr aux policiers et aux militaires», relève dans le quotidien allemand Tageszeitung Thomas Ruttig, du think-tank basé à Kaboul, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).’

Les talibans exploitent la crise de confiance
Le Journal du Dimanche, 22 January 2012
AAN’s Gran Hewad sees a new Taleban strategy behind the killing of French soldiers by an AAN soldier: ‘Nous avons affaire à une nouvelle stratégie des talibans depuis l’an dernier

Afghanistan’s ‘insider threat’ mounts, French tolerance falls 
France 24, 21 January 2012
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert on the training of the ANA: “In general, over the past ten years, there’s always been a somewhat hurried process, a tendency to start things before they’re even thought out properly, and then to figure them out on the way. Now there’s increased pressure because everybody realizes Afghan forces will need to fight on their own” and: “There is a general anti-international troop sentiment among Afghans. You do see quite a bit of tension between Afghan forces and their trainers. There is often an anger or frustration at the perceived arrogance of foreign troops.”

Der plötzliche Feind im Freund
tageszeitung (Berlin), 21 January 2012
In his article, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig explores reasons for the increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen’s attacks on ISAF personnel: traumatisation and increasing mutual animosities and mistrust. And he points at the fact that attacks go both sides: There are more than enough examples, too, of ISAF ‘mistakenly’ shooting or bombing ANA, ANP or allied security guards.

Of Alexander, gods and bathrooms
Foreign Policy, 19 January 2012
Discussion by Thomas E Ricks on Alexander the Great in Afghanistan and the I-can’t-take-their-shit-anymore outrage of US military partnering with the ANA: “To bite into the marrow, our discussion had to begin with harsh differences, like the handling of shit in latrines, that had evoked an acute emotional response from the soldiers. Only thereafter could we move on to the academic observations made of Afghanis [sic] by such notable authors as Thomas Barfield or Maratine [sic] van Bijlert or Antonio Giustozzi.”

Afghanistan: Bauern bauen wieder vermehrt Mohn an
DRS (Swiss Radio), 16 January 2012
Listen to an audio on Afghanistan’s again rising poppy production and its socio-economic background, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig answering questions (in German).

Seized data upsets Afghans
Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2012
AAN’s Martine van Bijert is quoted here on the controversial collection of biometric data by ISAF forces in Afghanistan: ”There … seems [to] be an element of wanting to check out as many people as possible, to gather intelligence and to see what comes out of it. There is … this drive going on to gather the biometric data of as many people as possible.’ She added that anyone who comes into contact with the military would be registered and Afghans didn’t know where the information goes.

US Marines grilled over Taliban urination video
AFP, 13 January 2012
AAN’s Kate Clark responds to the fact that a Taliban spokesman condemned the behavior of the troops as “barbaric,” but said it would not derail tentative moves towards peace talks between the insurgents and the United States: “Normally such an issue would be used to bash foreigners, but their reaction could be an indicator that they might be serious about talks.”

Taliban wollen ernsthafte politische Kraft werden
DRS (Swiss radio), 13 January 2012
Listen to an audio file of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig commenting on the repercussions of the video showing US soldiers urinating on dead Taleban and the Taleban’s moderate reaction on it (in German).

Condenação geral‎
Correio Braziliense and Diário de Pernambuco (Brazil), 13 January 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on the recent video in which US soldiers urinate on the dead bodies of alleged Taleban and says that this will help the Taleban ‘to claim the moral higher ground’ (subscribers only): ‘Esse vídeo é uma absoluta desgraça, ele está nas mãos dos talibãs e tornará afegãos comuns ainda mais furiosos. Tal com- portamento é a melhor maneira de per- der corações e mentes”, disse o analista, que morou por 10 anos no Afeganistão. De acordo com ele, as imagens serão exploradas pelos talibãs que se recu- sam a dialogar. “Mas a decisão recente de o Talibã abrir em breve um escritório no Catar para explorar as negociações não sofrerá retrocesso”, aposta Ruttig. O especialista alemão acredita que a milícia do mulá Mohammad Omar le- vará o assunto à mesa de diálogo e atuará com a moral elevada.’

‘Wir bluffen nicht’: Die Führer der Nordallianz haben sich wieder vereint
Die Welt, 13 January 2012
In a report about a meeting of US congressmen with former Northern Alliance leaders Zia Massud, Dostum and Mohaqqeq, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that ‘all participants in this alliance still have their armed troops. They have never been [properly] disarmed’. It would be necessary that this alliance also started ‘a dialogue with the Pashtuns’ for the ‘term federalism alone is a red rag, meaning “separatism” for them.’

Afghan Announcements Annoy U.S., Hurt Relations
NPR, 11 January 2012
Karzai’s tough demands are popular with most Afghans, but it’s dangerous for him to keep making them because he looks weak when the U.S. doesn’t comply, according to Kate Clark, of the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul. “The Americans have up to now put all their eggs in the Karzai basket. And Karzai needs the Americans to survive; most Afghans don’t think he’d survive a day without American forces and American money,” Clark says. “So in a way they’re in bed together, and both partners irritate the other occasionally … sort of like a dysfunctional marriage where neither side feels it can walk out,” she says.

Trains Face a Rough Political Terrain
IPS, 6 January 2012
In an article looking at NATO’s Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to Afghanistan, mining and railways in Afghanistan, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that railroads in particular are very vulnerable in a situation of war which does not look as if it is going to end soon’ and that ‘many mines already operate at a very low level technically [in Afghanistan], and are often owned or run by people who are either warlords or commanders or linked to them. This also does not bode well for social and economic sustainability.’

Slow-Motion Rush to an Afghan Peace
Huffington Post, 5 January 2012
Century Foundation’s Jeffrey Laurenti refers to the latest AAN report by Giutozzi/Franco on the Taleban’s school policy (without mentioning AAN itself).

Afghan peace talks confirmed by Hezb-e-Islami
Global Post. 5 January 2012
‘The Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin last week held peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and “important foreigners,” said Ghairat Baheer, who heads the group’s political wing and led the delegation’, the Global Post reports. The article quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about the histrocal role of Hezb-e Islami.

Afghan schools open, but under the Taliban’s rules
The Nation, 5 January 2012
AAN authors Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco summarise the findings of their research into the recent reopening of schools in Taleban controlled areas.

Afghan government agrees to Taliban-US talks
AFP, 4 January 2012
Analysts hailed the move to open an office abroad as a step back from the Taliban’s previous refusal to negotiate until all foreign troops have left Afghan soil. “I think this is positive news for peace in Afghanistan,” Giran Hiwad [sic], of the Kabul-based think-tank, Afghanistan Analysts Network, told AFP. “Until yesterday the Taliban were not even talking about talks. But now they say they are prepared to open an office in Qatar.”

‘Taliban werden Gegenleistungen verlangen’
Der Standard (Vienna), 4 January 2012
Interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the Taleban confirmation on a liaison office in Qatar. Thomas emphasises that this is a ‘first step’ on a difficult way and that there is no ‘guarantee for success’. Nevertheless, he adds, talsk have to tried, first of all in the interest of Afghans’ who suffer most under the current circumstances of war.

Ein heikler Handel mit den Taliban
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 4 January 2012
Andrea Spalinger writes about the progress made in Afghanistan’s education sector without forgetting to mention the shortcomings: still 4.2 m children out of school and most girls leaving after a few grades only. She also quotes extensively from Giustotti/Franco’s AAN report on deals between the Kabul government and the Taleban about more conservative curricula (online in the e-paper, for subscribers only).

The Taliban: opening offices and options
Guardian, 3 January 2012
The Guardian’s editorial discusses the repercussions of the Taleban opening an office, including that they ‘would also have to perform handbrake turns’ and that ‘there are signs of this already happening in the schools operating under their control’, linking to AAN’s latest report on the issue.

Peace progress? Qatar gives Taliban an office address
Christian Science Monitor (blog), 3 January 2012
Tom A. Peter, in his comment on the Taleban’s official agreement on the Qatar office, quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog, on Pakistan’s role in such talks: ‘The problem with talking to the Taleban is not so much an issue of an unknown address but of access to them which is controlled, restricted and instrumentalised by Pakistan. It is a matter of political will, on Pakistan’s part, whether it allows talks to happen – or whether it tries to block talks. The address has been there, but someone has simply been standing in front of the doorbell.’

Afganistán, la guerra interminable del Pentágono
Prensa Latina, 1 January 2012
In a balance of the 10-year Afghan war, the Cuban news agency quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig as affirming that ‘los proyectos de Khalilzad, aprobados por el Pentágono, permitieron una expansión sin límites a los llamados Señores de la guerra, incluidos el tráfico de drogas, las prebendas y la corrupción generalizada’.


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