Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – July 2011

10 min

Kabul’s economy leaves poor in the dark
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on expected post´2014 effects, on security and the economy. On the former, he quotes an Afghan friend: ‘”The day the West stops paying for the Afghan army and the Afghan police, the next day there is no Afghan army or Afghan police any more” (…) That’s a very tough thing to say – very dramatic, and probably a little bit exaggerated – but I think only a little bit.’ On the economy: ‘Most of the governments say – some on the record, most off the record – “when the soldiers leave, the money will also leave”.A lot of money is now going out of the country because people need insurance for post-2014, and that includes the government’.

‘Taliban’ killings may not be all they seem
Independent, 28 July2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted in this analysis of the numerous assassinations in Afghanistan this year. She says that ‘(w)hat we’ve seen over the past few months is an increasing tactic on both sides, [Nato] and the Taliban, to try to wage the war through targeted killings. Partially that has an impact in the battlefield and partly on morale and partly it is also to project a certain position of strength. I would think the Taliban is trying to project presence and infiltration and penetration and staying power.’ But she adds: It’s not always clear who is behind all these killings. Looking at all the killings over the past few months, they’re all different.’

Taliban töten Politiker nach Plan (not online)
Financial Times Germany, 28 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that the claim that the Taleban use IEDs and assassinations was a sign of weakness ‘might not correspond with reality’.

Kandahar Mayor’s Killing Another Blow to U.S. Afghanistan Effort
Time magazine, 27 July 2011
In this report by Julius Cavendish, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted on the Taleban intent to mirror the intensity of Nato’s own campaign of ‘kill/capture’ raids against insurgent commanders: ‘Partially that has an impact in the battlefield, and partly on morale, and part is also to project a certain position of strength.‘

Kandahar mayor killed by suicide bomber with explosives in turban
The Guardian, 27 July 2011
‘Every death piles on top of the other and leads to a sense of demoralisation, that nobody is safe,” said Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “Previously these attacks were carried out when the targets were on the move, either in their cars or on the way to the mosque or somewhere else where they were vulnerable. But now we have this recent development where assassins are able to enter secure areas and target people there.”

Kandahar mayor killed by suicide bomber with explosives in turban
Guardian, 27 July 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted as saying that ‘every death piles on top of the other and leads to a sense of demoralisation, that nobody is safe’.

Jetzt auch noch Kabuls Bürgermeister
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 27 July 2011
In this article about the assassination of Kandahar’s mayor Hamidi, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted who speaks of an ‘assassination wave’ and quotes figures about targetted killings in the city in 2011.

U.S. drawdown, internal crises fuel fears for Afghanistan 
McClatchy, 25 July 2011
Article quotes ‘a July 21 analysis by the respected Afghanistan Analysts Network’ saying ‘Petraeus was citing only attacks on U.S.-led forces, pointing out that the guerrillas have stepped up suicide strikes, bombings and intimidation against Afghan officials and civilians.’

Little progress in Taliban talks as handover begins
AFP, 21 July 2011
Here AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that the lack of a Taleban ‘political arm’ is one factor that hampers political contacts with the insurgents.

Taliban setzen zum ‘Endspurt’ an
dapd (German news agency), 21 July 2011
This report about the Taleban’s counter-offensive during the ‘transition” process quotes an earlier interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig in which he calls a civil war a ‘likely scenario’ after 2014 and points out that Western reports about progress in building up police, army and political institutions are ‘far too optimistic’.

Tech-savvy Taliban fights war in cyberspace
Reuters, 20 July 2011
Following an alleged hacking of the Taleban spokesman’s phone in the result of which Mulla Omar was declared killed, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig explains that the online proficiency of the Taleban could be attributed to an influx of younger recruits during the past decade. But there also is a historical root: ‘Islamists, even the early modernist and non-violent ones like Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani or the Egyptian Muhammad Abdu, have always suggested to use Western advanced technology to overcome the West’s domination. That’s not much different from today’s Taliban.’

‘Jan Mohammad war ein sehr brutaler Mensch’
Tagesanzeiger and Basler Zeitung (Switzerland), 20 July 2011
Read an interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about the latest series of assassinations and the role of the problem-compounding role of the international community in Afghanistan.

Taliban denies rumours of Mullah Omar’s death
Deutsche Welle (english), 20 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying here that the Taleban’s current affinity to the internet can be attributed to the increasing number of young recruits. ‘Islamists, even the early modernist and non-violent ones like Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani or the Egyptian Muhammad Abdu, have always recommended the use of advanced Western technology to overcome the West’s domination.’

Murder of ally a further blow to Karzai
Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted again on Jan Mohammad Khan who ‘was more than just an adviser to President Hamid Karzai […], like a second father-figure’.

Warlord’s death a bosst for Taliban
The Australian, 18 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that Jan Muhammad Khan’s death would ‘create a large gap in the power structure of Oruzgan’ that the Taliban could try to exploit but he doubted this was the motive for killing him. While we don’t know yet why this happened, it could be read as more of an attempt to weaken Karzai than anything to do with Oruzgan, which the Taliban seem to treat as a place for R&R’.

Killing of Karzai’s Adviser Takes Another Hit at the President’s Circle
Time magazine, 18 July 2011
‘The way he battered his way past local opponents meant “there are a lot of people who would like to have him dead,” says Martine van Bijlert, of Kabul think tank the Afghanistan Analysts Network and an authority on Uruzgan. “There’s a very large chunk that’s personal. It can be linked to the Taliban but [they] may not be the only factor.” “It goes beyond being palace politics, the Karzai regime and what happens with that,” says Van Bijlert. “It’s about local power relations, about who in the future is going to be controlling economic assets in an area, and who’s going to be able to go after whom. There’s a lot of positioning going on that is less about what is happening now and more about what is going to happen after transition, and I think there’s going to be a lot of violence. Who is going to come out on top? It’s often quite localized [and it is these] localized power politics that are sort of matching up with this Taliban tactic of ‘Who can we get rid of?'”

Petraeus cedes Afghan command, as uncertainty clouds strategy
McClatchy newspapers, 18 July 2011
‘Martine Van Bijlert, an expert with the Afghanistan Analysts Network, noted that the five slayings all occurred inside the victims’ security rings, sending tremors through the warlords and tribal leaders on whom President Karzai and his U.S.-led foreign backers depend to help maintain stability. […] “The impact on morale is on the political elite. It’s very big,” she said. “Regardless of who did it and how . . . it makes the key armed figures really nervous. They’ve seen this whole series of people being taken out with what looks to be inside help in secure compounds.”‘

Neue Gewalt überschattet Stabwechsel in Kabul
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 18 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on killed Jan Muhammad Khan’s background: ‘more than a Karzai advisor, rather a father figure’.

Afghanistan government under threat after second assassination in a week
Guardian, 18 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here twice, from his blog on killed Jan Muhammad Khan: ‘With his rivals, [Jan Muhammad Khan] dealt ruthlessly. He labelled them Taliban, and sent the special forces after them – who misinterpreted their mandate to support the ‘central government’ as supporting one man against his personal rivals and who appreciated his qualities as an effective Taliban hunter.’ And on the the impact of this and AWK’s killing: ‘The biggest thing is the psychological impact on Karzai losing two people very close to him and to the family, In a system here that is very patronage-based, that he is not able to protect his closest allies will have consequences. People will hedge their bets, in case the Taliban come back one day. They will make deals so they can survive that. With the first western soldiers leaving there is an atmosphere of concern and fear. People sending their sons out of the country to study or giving money so smugglers can take them abroad they don’t trust that the institutions are sustainable enough to survive.’

Afghanistan: qui a tue les cinq soldats francais?
Le Point, 17 July 2011
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is quoted here.

Afghan turf war ‘could embolden Taliban’
Sky News (Australia), 17 July 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted from her blog about Ahmad Wali Karzai’s assassination here writing that ‘[t]he removal of such a powerful figure may encourage greater plurality – or a fragmentation which makes the province even more insecure. […] There may also be a scrabbling for bits of Ahmad Wali’s business and political empire by former friends and rivals.’

La mort de Wali Karzai fait craindre de violences tribales en Afghanistan
RTBF (Belgian TV), 17 July 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark comments that the killing of the President’s brother and eminence gris of Kandahar could lead to a ‘dangerous political fragmentation’ in Southern Afghanistan.

Youngest MPs reject Afghan ‘old guard’
al-Jazeera, 16 July 2011
In this reportage about the Afghan parliament’s youngest members, AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is giving his views about former TV announcer Baktash Siawush.

General Petraeus’ Parting Spin
Huffington Post, 14 July 2011
The Post lambasts Petraeus’ ‘deceptive spin about the direction of the conflict in [Afghanistan]. The general wants to use cherry-picked numbers and vague characterizations to paint the insurgents as reeling under an assault by his pet counterinsurgency campaign, but big-picture

Kandahar dans l’incertitude (no link)
La Voix du Luxembourg, 14 July
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on the killing of Ahmad Wali Karzai.

Assassination Rocks Afghans
Wall Street Journal, 13 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying here that Mr. Karzai’s death could further propel Gen. Abdul Razzik, Kandahar’s new police chief.

Clouds Around Karzai Darken the Road Ahead 
New York Times, 13 July 2011
In this analysis by Alissa Rubin, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted on the West’s Afghanistan strategy: ‘There is no plan. What we have is a public relations strategy — “Everything is improving; it’s hard but we’re making progress”.’

Karsais finsterer Bruder ist tot
Die Welt (Berlin), 13 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that ‘there my be trouble in Kandahar in th short term’ after Wali Karzai’s death, ‘but finally the networks […] are flexible. There will be no power vacuum. It won’t take long before a successor within the Karzai family will be found’. On negotiations with the Taleban, Ruttig is quoted as commenting that there needs to be a social consensus in Afghanistan for it but that ‘President Karsai systematically excludes those from whom he can expect criticism’.

Wie wordt nieuwe koning van Kandahar?
De Standaard (Brussels), 13 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here on the killing of Ahmad Wali Karzai (subscribers only).

Analysis: Karzai killing highlights Afghan ‘strongman’ problem
Reuters, 13 July 2011
This article quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig as warning that the international cooperation with the country’s strongmen, for which Ahmad Wali Karzai was an example, was ‘a short-cut solution that undermines the legitimate Afghan institutions. […] Afghans seeing (the foreign coalition) working with them and ignoring predatory and violent behavior, undermines the values on which the international mission is based,’

Taliban brüsten sich mit Mord an Karsai-Bruder 
Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 12 July 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted here with doubts about the Taleban claim of responsibility for the murder of Ahmad Wali Karzai: ‘First of all, the report on the Taleban website al-Emarah makes me suspicious. […] I would have expected a much clearer admission from the Taleban.’

Brother’s murder huge setback for Karzai, US
AFP, 12 July 2011
The news agency quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig that AWK’s his demise was a loss for the Americans, who relied on his support for their counter-insurgency campaign, and warned of a damaging power struggle to replace him. Symbolically it’s extremely important because it shows that someone can hit in his own house in the heart of the system down there, which is very well protected. Who did it, is a completely different question. Could be personal revenge. Could be revenge for killings done by his fighters. Could be something in the family, could be Taliban. There are too many candidates.

Der heimliche Herrscher von Kandahar
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 12 July 2011
Friederike Boege’s obituary on Ahmad Wali Karzai quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig: There will be no pwer vacuum although there might be some rivalries in the pro-President networks for AWK’s place in Kandahar

Karzai brother, controversial powerbroker, assassinated 
France 24, 12 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that ‘[p]olitics in Afghanistan is very personalized, so his death is highly symbolic. For (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, his death is a psychological blow. This attack will be interpreted as a blow against the Afghan president. […] It’s too early to tell if the Taliban claims are credible. They would definitely have tried to target him, but then so many others would be interested in eliminating him. This is a man who had armed factions, counterinsurgency forces. His people killed a lot of people and many Afghans claimed they were not the Taliban, but Karzai’s enemies. There’s a whole spectrum of people who could have conducted the attack.’

Influential brother of Afghan president killed at home
Reuters, 12 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quotes saying that ‘I’m not sure whether I would assume that this was the Taliban because he had a lot of enemies down there.’

Karzais Gericht (Karzai’s Court)
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 10 July 2011
In an analytical article on the Afghan parliament crisis and the role of Karzai’s special court, Jochen Buchsteiner manages to quote both Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig from AAN, and both only half correctly. Martine is quoted from her analysis immediately after E-day saying that Afghanistan’s election institution turned out to be ‘more effective than expected’ (so far they were, but in the counting process they fell apart), and Thomas as saying that the Special Court rulings would not change the balance of power towards Karzai ‘ethnically’ (but ‘ethnically only, and apart from Ghazni, and in general the court helped to undermine the parliament’s role).

Darlig nytt fra Nordfronten (not online)
Aftenposten (Norway), 9 July 2011
In this article about the security situation in Northern Afghanistan, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted.

Demokratisk väg grusas av falskspel
Sydsvenskan, 8 July 2011
In this article by Aunohita Mojumdar, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as follows: ‘Legitimiteten för Afghanistans andra parlament efter talibanperioden är förstörd […]. Det som nu hänt är ett mycket dåligt exempel på övergången till afghanskt styre utan utländsk inblandning. Många anser att president Hamid Karzai själv har agerat bakom kulisserna. Ett försvagat parlament innebär att balansen mellan den lagstiftande, den verkställande och den dömande makten förskjuts till Karzais fördel. Förlorarna är afghanerna som behöver en fungerande statsbildning.’

Offizieller Optimismus, zivile Zweifel (Official optimism, civilian doubts – on Afghan transition)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 8 July 2011
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini and Thomas Ruttig analyse the security ‘transition’ in Afghanistan, taking Mehtarlam in Laghman as one example (article in German)

Kill/capture missions in Afghanistan: are they working?
Frontline Club, 7 July 2011
Watch a video of AAN’s Kate Clark participating in a panel dicussing the US kill-or-capture missions in Afghanistan with Lt-Gen. (Retd) Sir Graeme Lamb, on 6 July in London.

Calling the Taliban to account
AfPakChannel, 6 July 2011
The Foreign Policy magazine’ AfPak blog re-publishes the excutive summary of Kate Clark’s recent AAN report that anayses the Taleban layhas (codes of conduct) and its implications in the light of International HUmanitarin Law.

Afghan mine development seen costly, risky and slow
Reuters, 5 July 2011
In this analysis, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as warning against too high expectations from Afghanistan’s projected mineral wealth: ‘Looking at the very volatile security situation in many parts of the country, I find it unrealistic to expect that Afghanistan will have quick (mining) returns, It will take many years before infrastructure is in place, including a railway system. In the current state, the insurgents will be quite happy to get a new attractive target. The discussions of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth look like a straw one is trying to clutch in a desperate situation.’ Ruttig also said that corruption meant that there was a high risk that very little of any mineral wealth earned would trickle down to the population.

Afghans fear ‘transition’ buzzword just excuse to quit
Reuters, 1 July 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that ‘one thing is one the record’ while ‘I often hear off-the-record from diplomats and non-diplomats ‘let’s just go home and forget’. It’s a rush to the exit doors.’


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