Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – July 2010

7 min

Knowledge of Afghanistan ‘astonishingly thin’
BBC, 31 July 2010
Afghan studies is an “orphan subject,” hardly taught at universities in the UK, finds the BBC’s Ray Furlong. And he quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig in saying that it is not much different in germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Holland geht, “M” bleibt (Holland Leaves, “M” Stays)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 28 July 2010
This reportage by Dutch freelancer Bette Dam and AAN’s Thomas Ruttig from Uruzgan shows how disunited NATO “partners” work, how this supports ‘semi-legal, armed and corrupt structures’ and that Dutch partners now fear a backlash.

Was ist los in Afghanistan: Die Wikileaks-Papiere (What’s Going on in Afghanistan: The Wikileaks Papers)
MDR (German radio), 27 July 2010
Listen to an audio file (in German) of Thomas Ruttig explaining what is new (heat-seaking missiles in Taleban hands) and what not (Task Force 373) in the papers and that the affair reflects the dirth for information caused by far-from-transparent information strategies

Afghanistan-Dokumente wecken Zweifel (Afghanistan Documents Raise Doubts)
Financial Times Deutschland, 27 July 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted in this article as saying that the leak shows ‘how little transparence there is in the reporting of all involved actors – not the military only, but also Western and the Afghan governments as well as the UN’ – to make it such a sensation.

Afghan forces’ flaws exposed, 26 July 2010
Martine van Bijlert is asked to comment on the reports of “green-on-green” incidents in the Wikileaks Afghan War Diaries.

Stop Blaming the Afghans
The New Republic, 26 July 2010
Francesc Vendrell’s quote “Having failed dismally to make the Afghan people our allies, we will inevitably abandon them to a combination of Taliban in the south and the warlords in the north and—having somehow redefined success—we will go home convinced that it is the Afghan people who have failed us” made it into Steve Coll’s article in The New Republic as well.

Rethinking the Taliban and Going on the Defensive
The Media Line, 26 July 2010
Read a partial transcript of Thomas Ruttig’s radio interview for this US-based MidEast info service on his recent report ‘How Tribal Are the Taleban’ where he pleads for a turn-around of the US/Western military strategy, in order to create spaces in which the situation can calm down and development will be possible again.

What do the Taliban really want?
The National, 24 July 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on how the Taleban are funding themselves.

Afghan-Pakistan Relations Thaw, For Now
Voice of America, 23 July 2010
AAN Advisory Board chairman Francesc Vendrell says the following about the beginning rapprochement between Islamabad and Kabul: ‘I think the non-Pashtuns, and a good number of Pashtuns, are very upset about it. They wouldn’t want to see a deal cut that would reduce their influence, the non-Pashtun influence, in the government. And, I think, a lot of Pashtuns also are very anti-Pakistani. And, we’ll see how long this courtship lasts’.

Afghanistan’s prospects: The great endgame
The Economist, 22 July 2010
Economist editorial on the Kabul conference and international pessimism quotes Martine van Bijlert who says about Karzai’s opening speech “it was a speech written for a country without a war.”

Kabuler Luftschlösser (Pies in the Kabul Sky)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 21 July 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig analyses the two major documents of the Kabul conference: the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program and the ‘Inteqal’ framework, i.e. about transfer of responsibilities to the Afghan government.

Nach der Afghanistan Konferenz (After the Afghanistan Conference)
NDR (German radio), 21 July 2010
Listen to an audio file of Thomas Ruttig’s interview (in German).

Suche nach einer erfolgreichen Afghanistan-Strategie (Looking for a Successful Afghanistan Strategy)
Deutschlandfunk, 21 July 2010
Listen to a 45-minutes audio file of a roundtable discussion (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, Citha Maass (SWP Berlin), Ulrich Ladurner (Die Zeit weekly) and freelancer Marc Thörner.

“Ook Afghanen zitten in de klem” (Afghans are stuck too)
Volkskrant, 21 July 2010
Interview with Martine van Bijlert (in Dutch) on whether it is a good idea to announce a leaving date, what the chances are that things will get better (it doesn’t look like it), whether the Taliban are interested in talks (they might be if there was anything serious on the table), and the state of the Afghan government (in many ways not really interested in governing).

Die USA, der Mohn und der Tod (The US, the Poppy and Death)
Handelsblatt, 20 July 2010
This report relates how the poppy industry eats up the fabric of Afghan sociaty ‘like a cancer’ – as AAN’s Thomas Ruttig puts it who is quoted here.

Konferenz mit neuen Ansätzen (Conference with New Approaches)
ORF (Austrian radio), 20 July 2010
In this Interview, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says that the current Kabul conference reflects Western governments’ ‘general helplessness’. ‘Many governments conclude that it is time to leave Afghanistan, and therefore they need a picture to sell to the domestic public that Afghanistan now takes its matters in its own hands. But I see very few signs that this is really the case. The result maybe that Afghanistan is left to itself again’

Ein halbgarer Konsens: Afghanistans Friedensjirga (A Half-Cooked Consensus: Afghanistan’s Peace Jirga)
INAMO, summer 2010
Op-ed by Thomas Ruttig on the recent Kabul Peace Jirga in this German magazine on the Near and Middle East (only summaries under the link).

Der Westen rüstet zum Abzug (The West Gets Ready for the Withdrawal)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 20 July 2010
The article quotes Afghan analysts and MPs who believe that the Western withdrawal comes too early. And AAN’s Martine van Bijlert describes the mood: ‘The people are afraid. They are afraid about the Western troops leaving. And they are afraid about them staying as well – because that strengthens the Taleban’ (with audio file in German).

Can Karzai take control of Afghan security? (audio)
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 July 2010
Martine van Bijlert on whether Afghanistan has the strength to sort out its own security.

Die Kabul-Konferenz – mehr als ein Signal? (The Kabul Conference – More Than a Signal?), 19 July 2010
The website of Germany’s main news program quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert:’There was a kind of panic after the 2009 presidential elections: How will the situation evolve? The relationship between the donor countries and the Afghan government was severaly harmed. The population lost confidence in the government. It is important to repair all this.’

Nine years, nine conferences, 19 July 2010
Gregg Carlstrom’s pre-Kabul conference article also quotes Martine van Bijlert on the demand to spend more aid money through the Afghan budget: “It’s clear that you undermine the credibility of the institutions by bypassing them. But I’m not sure that the way to strengthen institutions is by spending more money through them.”

Prairie Taliban and bureaucracy run amok at Kabul Conference
Pundita (blog), 19 July 2010
Blogger Pundita quotes “super-smart Kate Clark’s highly informative report” on the reintegration plan, praising her “droll sense of humor and pitch-perfect understanding of international bureaucrats hard at work managing the Natives” (and commends last year’s blog by Joanna Nathan on “Afghanistan’s most under-reported stories of 2009”).

Expert: Afghanistan policy not working
CNN Afghanistan blogs, 19 July 2010
The expert quoted by CNN’s Tim Lister is Richard Haass, but the article also refers to “a recent study by the respected Afghanistan Analysts Network argued that the Taliban’s influence and appeal extended well beyond Afghanistan’s Pashtun heartland.”

Taliban Talks: The Obstacles to a Peace Deal in Afghanistan
The Guardian, 19 July 2010
In an analysis of possible talks with the Taleban, AAN’s Advisory Board head Francesc Vendrell is quoted as saying that the current military effort to push the Taliban out of Kandahar and Helmand was particularly foolish because these are precisely the areas that, in his view, will have to be handed over to Taleban control.

Karzai hofiert die Taliban (Karzai Courts the Taleban)
Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland), 18 July 2010
In an article discussing Afghan and US strategies vis-a-vis the Taleban, Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog on the McChrystal/Petraeus change is quoted.

Experten erwarten keinen Durchbruch bei Außenministerkonferenz in Kabul (Experts expect no breakthrough from Kabul conference)
AP (German service), 17 July 2010
This pteview on the upcoming Kabul conference quotes German Afghanistan experts like Conrad Schetter, Jochen Hippler and AAN’s Thomas Ruttig. He says that he has ‘low expectations’ from the conference with regards to a political solution. ‘I can’t see a congruent line between the major foreign governments and that of President Hamed Karzai’. And he doubts ‘whether there now is a better control’ over the money that Western governments allocate for the new reintegration programme’ then was over the failed PTS.

Hoffnungslos in Kandahar (Hopeless in Kandahar)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 13 July 2010
In this report on the situation in Kandahar, wih its series of political murders and ‘covert operations’ to kill ‘as many Taleban leaders as possible’, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted as ‘shocked … how hopelessly Kandaharis look into their future’.

Golden Surrender
Huffington Post blog, 11 July 2010
Nick Mills, Huffington Post blogger and professor at Boston University, quotes both from Matt Waldman’s and Thomas Ruttig’s latest AAN papers – and comes to the conclusion that ‘The Taliban live there. They are not going away. We should.’ We’re not sure whether we agree entirely.

U.S. encouraged by Afghans banding together to protect villages
Stars and Stripes, 9 July 2010
Article on the latest incarnation of the “village militias” quotes AAN’s LDI report by Matthieu Lefevre, as well as Martine van Bijlert as saying that support by outside special forces “could easily disrupt local balances and exacerbate local conflicts.”

The Gizab Good Guys
Zach in Afghanistan / War is boring
Blogger quotes Martine van Bijlert’s blog on the revolt of the good guys in Gizab and calls AAN “inestimable”.

Op zoek naar nieuwe koers voor hulp
Governance professor Wil Hout positively reviews last year’s contribution by Martine van Bijlert to a volume on the future of development aid (“Imaginary Institutions: Statebuilding in Afghanistan”).

Ausbruch aus dem paschtunischen Getto (Break-out from the Pashtun Ghetto)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 5 July 2010
Christoph Erhardt quotes extensively from AAN’s latest report, ‘How Tribal Are the Taleban’ describing the Taleban’s gains in non-Pashtun areas in the Afghan North (in German, subscribers only).

Wie weiter in Afghanistan? (Whither Afghanistan?)
DRS 1,2 and 4 (Swiss radio), 5 July 2010
Listen to an audio of an interview with Thomas Ruttig in Swiss radio’s ain evening news about the perspectives for Afghanistan and what the international community has achieved there – and what not (in German).

Does the West understand the Taliban?
Killid magazine (Kabul), 3 July 2010
The leader of the latest issue of the Kabul weekly magazine quotes extensively from AAN’s new report ‘How Tribal Are the Taliban’

Bakslaget (Backlash)
Fokus (Sweden), 2 July 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted in this analysis of the outcome of Operation ‘Mushtarak’ in Marja and the Taleban’s return to the area witnessed by Swedish journalist Terese Cristiansson (in Swedish)

Taliban attack compound of US contractor in Afghanistan
The Guardian, 2 July 2010
In her report on the Taleban attack on an USAID-funded ‘for-profit’ NGO, Aunohita Mojumdar quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on ‘concerns about the privatisation and militarisation of development co-operation which makes people who work in these organisations very vulnerable.’

Missie geslaagd? (Mission accomplished?)
Onze Wereld, July/August 2010
Bette Dam, author of “Expeditie Uruzgan” discusses the Dutch involvement in Uruzgan and quotes Martine van Bijlert on the contentious issue of when an area can be considered safe (“it seems safe, but the conflicts have not been resolved”).

Missed opportunities: General McChrystal is gone but the Afghanistan problem remains 
The Asia Pacific Times and The Atlantic Times, No 7-8/2010
Thomas Ruttig’s analysis deals with the missed opportunies to change US strategy in Afghanistan with Gen. Petraeus’ take over of command: ‘The mantra of strategic continuity shows that there was and is no political will for that.’

Die Nato und die Warlords (NATO and the Warlords)
Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 1 July 2010
The change from General McChrystal to Petraeus in Afghanistan will not correct the US’s wrong course – they will continue to cooperate with warlords and local strongmen that undermine any legtimate institution-building, writes Thomas Ruttig is his article for the Swiss weekly (in German, only in the print issue).


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