Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – March 2011

5 min

Western aid lines Taliban pockets in Afghanistan
AFP, 31 March 2011
‘Thomas Ruttig of the Afghan[istan] Analysts Network, a Kabul think tank, believes Western aid money is now one of the insurgents’ main sources of income. …The militarisation and privatisation of aid prevent the development of Afghan institutions. It is aimed at fighting the insurgency and ending the conflict, but it fuels it.’

Taliban and Karzai Regime Undermine Pashtun Tribal Code
Huffington Post, 24 March 2011
Article that cobbles together reports and quotes (including one from 1809!) on Pashtuns, Pashtunwali and more, also quotes Thomas Ruttig: “In today’s violent atmosphere, between the anvil of the Karzai government and the hammer of the Taliban, there are no viable political alternatives for Pashtuns.”

Abzug aus Afghanistan: Die erste Etappe beginnt
tageszeitung (Berlin), 23 March 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig reports about Karzai’s announcement of the first seven inteqal areas, that Badakhshan is not amongst them – contrary to what the German government had initially hoped – and that this will be an invitation for the Taleban if policemen go home after 5 pm like at many of the ‘ring of steel’ checkpoints in Kabul.

Kabinet presenteert script Mission Impossible Kunduz (Cabinet presents script Mission Impossible)
De Pers (NL daily), 23 March 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert has been asked (yet again) whether she believes that the Dutch Cabinet’s promises to Parliament – policemen trained by Dutch trainers will in no way be deployed to fight the insurgency – can be kept.

Nato urged to investigate Afghan ‘war criminal’ employed by US
The Independent, 23 March 2011
In a follow-up article on a Paktika commander who operates with US Special Forces and is accused of a series of atrocities by local elders, the AIHRC and other human rights activists demand an investigation. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as supporting this demand but doubtful ‘how to get transparency into forces which are designed to operate covertly’.

Mythos Sicherheit
tageszeitung (Berlin), 23 March 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig comments the planned transfer of security responsibility in seven Afghan areas: as Western symbolic policy that is supposed to stregnthen the narrative of progress in Afghanistan while the country’s security forces are growing in quantity only; therefore, the least problematic areas have been chosen for enteqal phase 1. But with NATO troops remaining ‘behind the horizon’ – also on bases after 2014 – there won’t be a full withdrawal and Taleban might continue fighting.

Taliban assassination campaign impedes governance
AP, 22 March 2011
Martine van Bijlert said the assassination campaign was meant to “counter the narrative of the insurgency as a spent force. (..) We’ve seen a sequence of high profile assassinations and attacks that are designed to make people wary of working with the government,”

Start of Afghan ‘fighting season’ will test U.S. strategy 
McClatchy, 22 March 2011
“Every year is a crucial year. Every year ISAF announces that they are now really seeing success, and every year we’re told it will get worse before it gets better,” said Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent research organization, who’s been in Kabul since 2004. “This is very much a war of perceptions. The military always feels they are so close to making a difference, but they just need a bit more time.”

Call to cut links with war-crimes militias
The Independent, 19 March 2011
Thomas Ruttig, co-founder of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, said militias such as the one commanded by Mr Azizullah seem to operate with impunity “because they simply are outside the Afghan chain of command”. He said The Independent report “confirms what I have heard frequently: ‘If we complain, we might be targeted.’ These types of operations – and alliances – definitely will not win Afghan hearts and minds”.

Increase in civilian casualties raises questions about Afghanistan war strategy
Global Post, 11 March 2011
In anrticle discussing the recent killings in Kunar and of a Karzai cousin in Kandahar, Jean MacKenzie quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig that this is ‘not only about [wrong] information. I think it is a mentality widespread in the military: first, that our high-tech weapons are infallible. Then from time to time the human factor comes in, and human beings are not able to make the correct judgment. In Kunar recently, for example, ”are these people on the ground kids collecting wood or bearded Taliban?”

Realität off the records
tageszeitung (Berlin), 10 March 2011
Thomas Ruttig’s comments on the UN/AIHRC civilian casualties report that reality often contradicts the official NATO marrative of success: the increase in civilian casualties reflects an escalation of violence to which both sides contribute – and that the rising aggressiveness of the Taleban contradicts stories of them being weakened.

Zivile Opfer im Afghanistan-Krieg: Tödliche Erfolge
tageszeitung (Berlin), 10 March 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig summarises the latest UN/AIHRC report, ‘protecting civilians in armed conflict’, which says that the number of civilian casualties in 2010 have increased again, by 15 per cent compared to 2009, the discussion about two nes cases of civilian casualties in Kunar and General Petraeus latest success stories.

Most Afghan civilian deaths ’caused by Taliban attacks, not US forces’ 
Guardian, 9 March 2011
In this article about the latest UN/AIHRC report about Afghan civilian casualties, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig tries to explain why Afghans have difficulties condemning Taleban atrocities in public: ‘It is very difficult for them to do anything about it because they are very much aware that eventually these foreign troops will withdraw. Who wants to criticise them [the Taliban] and then see them come back into power’.

US image problem grows as Afghanistan casualties mount
Christian Science Monitor, 9 March 2011
After a NATO air strike killed nine boys collecting firewood in Kunar a week ago, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says that the US military must be aware of this risk and speculates that their adherence to using air power may signal a shifting strategy: ‘For me, the only conclusion is that it has given up ‘winning hearts and minds.’ Since this aspect has been considered core of any successful COIN [counterinsurgency] strategy, it remains the US command’s secret how it wants to overcome the insurgency.’

Afghans rely heavily on foreign advisers as transition looms 
McClatchy, 8 March 2011
Article discussing the phenomenon of foreign advisers, particularly in the Ministry of Interior, also quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: “Many advisers work on the kind of things donors need, like strategies and reports. There’s very little real thinking about what a self-sufficient Afghan government would look like,”

Wat een vrouw
7 March 2011
Erik van Muiswinkel tweets: “Martine van Bijlert. Richtte een onafhankelijke Afghanistan-denktank op. Wat een vrouw.”

Taliban exploit government vacuum in Afghan hinterland
Reuters, 6 March 2011
Thomas Ruttig on the ongoing strategy of hunting down the Taliban, and especially its local version the Haqqani network: “It has not changed anything, All the indicators by which [in]security is measured are going up.”

Qui han de ser els interlocutors a l’Afganistan (Who can be mediators in Afghanistan)
Youtube, 5 March 2011
Watch a youtube video (in English, with Catalan subtitles) of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig explaining who can help mediating with the Taleban at a conference organised by ASDHA in Barcelona, produced by Solidaritat i Comunicacio

Frauenhäuser in Afghanistan: Etappensieg für NGOs
tageszeitung (Berlin), 1 March 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig reports about the last development around Afghanistan’s NGO-run women’s shelters which the government wanted to take under its own control and describes it as a ‘struggle for the resources’, drawing a parallel to President Karzai’s recent announcement that he plans to close the PRTs, another storm in the tea-cup.


Pakistan Press Taliban US Government