Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – June 2011

10 min

NATO air strike kills fighter linked to Afghan hotel attack
Reuters, 30 June 2011
In this background article about what the Interconti attacks says about the ‘transition’ process, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that it reflects ‘one of the concerns […] that the Afghan security forces are growing in quantity, not in quality’. He adds that ‘[t]he fact that neither NATO nor the Afghans were able to prevent it says something — that transition needs to be something more than just security’ and that ‘security forces are only part of transition. There also needs to be a strengthening of political institutions and, at the moment, the parliamentary crisis has brought politics to a standstill’.

U.S. and Taliban Diverge on Meaning of Kabul Siege
Wall Street Journal, 30 June 2011
Article with many details on the InterContinental Hotel attack quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: ‘The attacks are designed to illustrate the relative ease with which the Taliban can strike and can penetrate even heavily guarded places. At the moment the population seems more upset with the Afghan government and the international forces and their inability to protect them.’

Taliban attack undermines US withdrawal 
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is extensively quoted here, that the Interconti attack ‘reinforces concerns that the Afghan security forces will be vulnerable during the transition of the withdrawal of international forces and afterwards’; that ‘despite the presence of NATO and Afghan troops – and in this case it was a NATO helicopter that finished off the gunmen – insurgents are still able to carry […] out’ such an attack; that ‘the Taliban are clever enough to find vulnerable points’; and that the attack represents ‘an escalation in terms of targeting civilians. […], one of the gunmen went to the restaurant, where [lot sof] guests would be expected to be’.

‘Burnt-out’ case exposes US-Afghan rift 
Asia Times online, 30 June 2011
In a very sharp analysis of the KabulBank case, MK Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, also quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: ‘The Kabul Bank investigations provide insight in the main sectors that Afghanistan’s business networks are invested in and how they intersect. These sectors include fuel (import, storage and transport – partly for the normal consumer market, but to a large and increasing extent to service the large US/NATO contracts, among others through the expanding Northern Distribution Network); mining (not much money is being made yet, but contracts are competed over); banking (every self-respecting businessman would like a bank of his own); real estate (mainly in Dubai, but also in Afghanistan); and construction materials and consumer goods (import, distribution, manufacturing) – although the latter did not surface here so much … Powerful business groups tend to have, or seek, a foothold in most, if not all, of these sectors. The ongoing case against the Kabul Bank is the slow and public unpeeling of one of Afghanistan’s politically-connected business networks.’

Thomas Ruttig discusses Parliamentary crisis 
Voice of America, 30 June 2011
Watch AAN’s Thomas Ruttig discuss the latest Parliamentary crisis (in Pashto).

Die neue afghanische Ordnung ist eine Illusion
Zeit online, 29 June 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here as saying that the attack on the Kabul Interconti and similar Taleban operations show that they can rely on inside knowledge.

Taliban-Terrorkommando stürmt Hotel in Kabul
dpa/Leipziger Volkszeitung, 29 June 2011
A number of German media quote from Thomas Ruttig’s blog about the Interconti attack via dpa news agency.

Kabul Bank Scandal Tests Afghan Stability
Voice of America, 29 June 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is interviewed about the Kabul Bank scandal and Central Bank executive Fitrat’s escape to the US. ‘In Afghanistan, everything’s personal. And so if you go public and you smear someone’s name, because that’s the way it’s being seen, that’s taken very personally.’

Taliban-Angriff auf Hotel in Kabul
ARD Tagesschau (German TV), 29 June 2011
Watch AAN’s Thomas Ruttig commenting on the Interconti attack in Kabul and its repercussions on ‘transition’ in thsi video of the top German TV news programme (in German).

Kabul raid shows Taliban’s strength, tests Afghan security coordination
Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2011
Thomas Ruttig on how well the Afghan and international security coordination went during the attack on the InterContinental Hotel: ‘Yesterday it looked to me that it worked rather effectively, But Kabul, of course, is probably better than other parts of the country. It depends how good the people on both sides are.’

Musical chairs in Parliament
Afghanistan Today, 29 June 2011
THis blog kept by Afghan journalists quotes Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog analysing the possible shuffle of WJ seats: ‘clear political trends do not emerge…An impressive number of possible Karzai allies, or allies/relatives of Karzai allies, would also lose their seats’.

Gleichzeitig reden und schießen
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29 June 2011
The Munich-based daily takes up Thomas Ruttig’s analysis that both sides – the US and the Taleban – follow a strategy of getting themselves in a position of strength by escalating violence: ‘They shoot and talk at the same time’, and there is mutual distrust about the other side’s willingness for peace.

In Kabul haben die Taleban ein Luxus-Hotel gestuermt
MDR (German radio), 29 June 2011
Listen to the audio of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German)

Is US killing strategy in Afghanistan illegal?
al-Arabiya, 28 June 2011
In its London dispatch, the Arab channel report about a Channel 4 discussion in London about the US kill-or-capture strategy in which AAN’s Kate Clark was a guest. She called the so-called intelligence-based operations of US Special Forces ‘one of the most politically disastrous tactics for the military to use’ and said that when intelligence is wrong, they might be illegal’.

Karzai pulling strings in parliament crisis
AFP (quoted in Business Recorder), 28 June 2011
Article quotes from Thomas’ recent blog on the findings of the Special Electoral Court: “The legitimacy of this second post-Taliban parliament of the ‘new democratic’ Afghanistan has been destroyed for good. The winner — again — is Karzai. The losers are those who want a functioning Afghanistan, governed not ruled.”

U.S. steps up efforts for talks with Taliban
Los Angeles Times, 28 June 2011
In an analysis of the changes for a peace deal in Afghanistan, the paper quotes – amongst a number of other experts – AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on two points (from an earlier blog): that it probably will be difficult to win support from various Afghan constituencies and on his doubts that the Afghan government really wants a deal: ‘[A]re they really ready to share power and access to resources?’

Political Crisis Threatens Democratic Institutions
Eurasianet, 28 June 2011
This analysis by Aunohita Mojumdar quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig as saying ‘that nine months after the elections [and] eight months after the final results were announced by the IEC … MPs still can be changed by a body established by the president is a sign of the sad state of Afghan institutions. […] After all the post-election chaos, no one will ever be able to say who really won or lost a seat in September. The legitimacy … of the ‘new democratic’ Afghanistan has been destroyed for good. It is a very bad example for the transition because the 2009-10 election cycle [which included controversial presidential polls in August 2009] was the first major political process handled by the Afghan government alone.’

250,000 Afghans ‘flee homes in two years’
al-Jazeera, 28 June 2011
An AAN blog by Gran Hewad is quoted here: ‘Gran Hewad, a researcher with the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network, wrote in March that former Hezb-i Islami fighters working for the ALP kidnapped villagers for ransom. And the New York Times reported earlier this month on an ex-Taliban member and current ALP recruit in Kunduz province who imposed an “Islamic tax” on villagers in his community.’

Top Afghan banker: From ‘milk cow’ to sacrificial lamb?
France 24, 28 June 2011
The French TV website quotes from a blog of AAN’s Martine van Bijlert that Afghanistan central bank chief Fitrat ‘took a high profile stance in that parliamentary session.I remember Afghans at the time saying that it was a mistake and that he would suffer the consequences.’

Taliban-Jagd mit unerwünschten Folgen
Zeit online, 27 June 2011
Read a German version of Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog ‘Leaving Afghanistan: Where’s the Progress’

ISAF’s Consistent Underreporting of Inconvenient Violence, 27 June 2011
US-based blogger picks up some of the themes from Martine van Bijlert’s piece on ALP violence in Khas Uruzgan and ISAF’s press releases.

Afgaanid kardavad välisväe lahkumist
Eesti Päevaleht (Estonia), 27 June 2011
In this article reporting Afghan reactions on President Obama’s withdrawal speech, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quotes as saying: ‘Kui sa räägid lihtsate afgaanidega, siis neid hirmutab see väljavaade, et väed lahkuvad liiga vara, enne kui Afganistan ise suudab tõeliselt seista oma jalgadel. Neil on õigus, sest ei Afganistani julgeolekujõud ega poliitilised institutsioonid ole piisavalt stabiilsed, et ise hakkama saada, ning ma kahtlen, et see on väga teistmoodi ka 2014. aastal’.

Afghanistan War: A Decade On, No Clear Answers
Huffington Post, 26 June 2011
“This announcement [of US military withdrawal], they fear, runs parallel to a possible power-sharing deal with the Taliban that may emerge during this period,” Thomas Ruttig, co-director and senior analyst of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a Kabul-based think-tank, wrote recently in Foreign Policy. “For them, today was the beginning of the end of the world’s support for Afghanistan, for the third time after 1989 and the 1990s factional wars.”

Taleban chief’s son-in-law one of secret envoys at peace talks 
The Scotsman, 25 June 2011
In this article, Jerome Starkey looks at two alleged Taleban participants in the current preliminary talks with the US, Tayyeb Agha and (Motassem) Agha Jan, signalling – as he writes – that these contacts go on with the green light of Mulla Omar. He also quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig that ‘dissenting voices [in the Taleban], ie: those who wanted an end to the bloodshed, became silent again [after the start of the US surge in early 2009]. Ranks closed around the party line – no talks before all foreign troops have left’.

Deadly bomb hits Afghan hospital
BBC TV, 25 June 2011
Lyse Doucet at BBC Newshour pulls in AAN’s Thomas Ruttig with background on the devastating bomb attack against a clinic in Azra. Listen to the audio.

Les Afghans craignent le retour des talibans
Le Figaro, 24 June 2011
In this article, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as challeging the narrative on the successful US surge: ‘La montée en puissance (‘surge’) n’a pas vraiment marché. Certes, les troupes de la coalition ont éliminé de nombreux chefs de guerre. Mais l’insécurité a progressé dans des régions auparavant épargnées par les violences. À Kunduz, dans le nord du pays, on trouve même des talibans tadjiks, une ethnie qui normalement ne les soutient pas’.

Afghanistan Reacts to Obama: 10,000? Why So Much So Fast?
Time, 24 June 2011
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is quoted on the equippement, morale and leadership shortcomings of the Afghan security forces.

US-Abzug aus Afghanistan: Nette Worte von Präsident Karsai
tageszeitung (Berlin), 24 June 2011
Read Thomas Ruttig’s rendering of what mattered for Afghans on the day of Obama’s withdrawal speech (in German).

Afghanistan: Experte warnt vor Bürgerkrieg
Oranienburger Generalanzeiger, 24 June 2011
This and other German-language media reprint a interview of dpa with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about possible post-2014 scenarios.

Russland, China, Dealer und Taliban — wer vom Abzug profitiert
Basler Zeitung, 24 June 2011
In this analysis of possible repercussions of the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan, the author quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig from the Guardian saying that Kabul university students he spoke with are dreading a return of the Taleban.

Her skal afghanerne vokte sikkerheten
Aftenposten (Norway), 23 June 2011
In this article about the security transition in Mazar, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as follows: ‘

U.S. troop cut may also bring risky cuts in Afghan aid
Reuters, 23 June 2011
In this analysis, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that channeling more aid through the Afghan government is, in theory, ‘the right thing to do. But first there is the question of the absorption capacities of ministries. And second there is the problem of corruption.’

Afghan court overturns election results
AFP, 23 June 2011
In rounding up the story, AFP quotes from Martine van BIjlert’s recent AAN blog on the issue: ‘It is a standoff — one of Afghanistan?s many — with the main protagonists milling around, watching each other wearily, trying to gauge the others plans, waiting for a chance to strike, while all the while pretending to be minding their own business. And one that could go on for quite a while longer.’

US pullout from Afghanistan signals new power struggle in fragile nation
Guardian, 23 June 2011
In this article, Declan Walsh quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig who had visited Kabul University to talk to students the same day: ‘They were really frightened the troops were leaving, There’s a lot of criticism of western forces, of course. But if push comes to shove, they’re worried the Taliban will ultimately take over again.’

Abzug aus Afghanistan – Angst vor neuem Bürgerkrieg
Greenpeace-Magazin, 23 June 2011
The online magazin publishes an analysis (in German) by dpa’s Delhi correspondent Can Merey who quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig as saying that there is widespread fear of a new civil war amaongst Afghans when the Western troops leave.

Showdown City
Harper’s Magazine, 23 June 2011
Harper’s reporter Matt Aikins refers to Martine van Bijlert’s recent blog on the tussle between the Afghan government and the IMF over the Kabul Bank scandal, in an excellent article that describes the current political wrangling in Kabul.

Aid Groups Respond To Obama Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal
Huffington Post, 23 June 2011
In a round-up of US-based aid groups and others that work in Afghanistan, also AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that: NGO officials in the capital worry that as donor nations push the Afghan government to take over a greater share of security, efforts to improve health care, education and other social services will suffer. There is also a concern that if U.S. troops are withdrawn too soon, international attention and aid may drop proportionally.

Afghanistan redo att ta över efter USA
Sveriges Radio, 23 June 2011
Martine van Bijlert på tankesmedjan Afghanistan Analyst Network säger att efter nio år är också många afghaner som en gång välkomnade den USA-ledda styrkan besvikna på att framstegen inte varit större och mera definitiva.

Truppenabzug eroeffnet neue Chancen
DRS 4 (Swiss radio), 23 June 2011
Listen to an audio where AAN’s Thomas Ruttig assess Obama’s announced troops reduction and says that it might(!) open new chances for talks.

Obama defers to public on speed of Afghanistan exit
McClatchy group, 22 June 2011
In a discussion about the feasibility of the ANSF taking over from Western forces, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig raises his concern over the increasing number of militias: ‘There are more and more reports that they are raping and robbing, That won’t create stability.’ On the US troop surge he added that it ‘has not worked in really weakening the Taliban. Yes, there were a lot killed, but they were replaced, and the Taliban is even extending into new areas. It’s a zero-sum game, I would say.’

In Afghanistan, Bickering Hints At Deepening Rift
Radio Free Europe, 21 June 2011
Read Thomas Ruttig’s comment on the latest ‘speech war’ between President Karzai and the US: ‘Such a blame game doesn’t help anyone. There are two sides of the coin. The U.S. also has contributed to problems in Afghanistan. And Karzai and his government has also contributed to problems in Afghanistan. So they need to get together, forget emotions, and work on the things that are really important for Afghanistan.’

USA bahnen Verhandlungen mit den Taliban an
Radio 1 (Germany), 20 June 2011
Liten to an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the US declaration that they have established direct contacts with the Taleban.

US officials seek dialogue with the Taliban
Deutsche Welle, 20 June 2011
Listen to an audio of Thomas Ruttig’s interview with the English-language programme with the German radio.

Ambassador Eikenberry’s pushback against Karzai: Will it make a difference?
Christian Science Monitor, 20 June 2011


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