Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – May 2011

12 min

Afghan president seeks to limit NATO airstrikes
AP, 31 May 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark – misidentified as a freelance reporter here – is quoted as saying that President Karzai was clearly ‘completely furious’ at the civilian deaths caused by a recent NATO airstrike in Helmand. ‘It’s just the latest in a series of operations where civilians have been killed this month — not just in air strikes, but also night raids.’

Desperately Seeking Mullah Omar 
Huffington Post, 31 May 2011
Michael Hughes discusses whether US have indeed really found access to Mulla Omar and displays some scepticism. He also quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig from his blog where he argues that ‘a deal that enables the elite to monopolize power will not bring peace to Afghanistan. A much broader political compromise is needed that involves a representative cross-section of the Afghan nation, including what is usually called civil society.’

Key Afghanistan general killed by bomb: spy agency 
AFP, 30 May 2011
AFP quotes from AAN’s Martine van Bijlert’s blog about the bomb attack that killed Gen. Daud in Taloqan that the impact would be ‘wide-ranging’ and that international forces had lost ‘an important partner’ in Daoud.

Osama bin Laden tried to establish ‘grand coalition’ of militant groups
Guardian, 30 May 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here saying that ‘in recent years, al-Qaida has become increasingly marginal in the region, particularly in Afghanistan’. He adds that he is skeptical about its claimed role with the Afghan Taleban: ‘The Taliban have people who have been fighting for 30 years and who have little to learn from outsiders.’

Nach Anschlag auf Bundeswehr (After the attack on the Bundeswehr)
ARD Tagesschau, 29 May 2011
See AAN’s Martine van Bijlert commenting on the Taleban attack at a security coordination meeting in Taloqan during which regional police chief Gen. Daud and others wre killed, with the German commander of ISAF RC North amongst the injured.

Judging Taliban war under international law 
Killid magazin (Kabul), 28 May 2011
The Kabul based magazine summarises Kate Clark’s AAN blog following the Taleban attack on the 400-bed military hospital in Kabul on 21 May.

Warum Hilfe keine große Hilfe ist (Afghan media: Why help isn’t of much help)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 26 May 2011
In a story about the closure of Kabul Weekly, the German daily quotes Martin Gerner’s recent AAN guest blog about the jeopardised freedom of the Afghan press.

’50 bis 60 Prozent der Polizisten sind korrupt’
dapd/AP, 25 May 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted in this report about abductions of Afghan citizen by the Taleban and the weakness of the Afghan police.

Les talibans changent de stratégie en Afghanistan
AFP, 24 May 2011
«Les talibans essaient depuis longtemps d’infiltrer tous les échelons de la société afghane, le gouvernement et les institutions, ainsi que l’armée et la police afghane», confirme Martine Van Bijlert, de l’Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), centre d’études basé à Kaboul.

Cautious Optimism: Germany Mediates Secret US-Taliban Talks
Spiegel (English edition), 23 May 2011
The German magazine reports that representatives of the US government – mid-level officials from the CIA and the DoS – have held talks with Taleban representatives, possibly Mulla Omar’s confidant Tayyeb Agha in Germany as late as of early May, hosted by Germany, but that no official statements have been made available. On eof the talks’ aims id to persuade the Taleban to break their links with al-Qaida. On this, the authors quote AAN’s Thomas Ruttig saying that this is not impossible.

Reden statt bomben: Die US-Regierung verhandelt unter deutscher Vermittlung mit den Taliban
Spiegel, 23 May 2011
The German magazine reports that representatives of the US government – mid-level officials from the CIA and the DoS – have held talks with Taleban representatives, possibly Mulla Omar’s confidant Tayyeb Agha in Germany as late as of early May, hosted by Germany, but that no official statements have been made available. On eof the talks’ aims id to persuade the Taleban to break their links with al-Qaida. On this, the authors quote AAN’s Thomas Ruttig saying that this is not impossible. An English translation is now available.

The cycle of revenge
The Sunday Age (Australia), 22 May 2011
Bette Dam reports about a cse from Uruzgan, in which charges against two Australian soldiers for killing Afghan civilians have been dropped, but the family of the six Afghans killed in a botched raid are still waiting for answers. She also quotes that a recent AAN report ‘listed six incidents in the past two years in which scores of Afghan civilians were killed, all of which involved claims of mistaken targeting or faulty intelligence’.

Taliban talks – a necessary but not sufficient condition for peace
Reuters, 20 May 2011
As Thomas Ruttig writes at the Afghanistan Analysts Network, any deal between the Taliban and Afghan President Hamid Karzai that was simply meant to open the exit door for foreign troops would not serve the interests of Afghans. ”… they need an end of the bloodshed that will also physically reopen spaces for economic and political activities, a debate about where their country is going. A deal which does not address the main causes of the conflict (namely the monopoly over power of resources concentrated in the hands of a small elite, then possibly with some additional Taleban players) will not bring peace.’

Afghan war: hunter-killer units used by White House
The Militant, vol 75 no. 21, 30 May 2011
Article discusses, among others, AAN’s recent Takhar report: ‘The report, by journalist Kate Clark, details a botched “target killing” last September and explains how these operations have been expanding since last year. In these missions, spies gather information and select targets whose elimination they believe will weaken the Taliban. Hunter-killer teams then track down and assassinate the person—quite often along with others in close proximity. In a case of mistaken identity, Zabet Amanullah made it onto the “to be killed” list. On September 2, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, U.S. commandos killed him along with 10 other people in northeastern Afghanistan. They all turned out to be civilians traveling as part of an election campaign convoy supporting Amanullah’s nephew as a parliamentary candidate.’

A NATO Raid Sets Off a Deadly Afghan Protest
New York Times, 19 May 2011
In a report about the violent demonstrations in Taloqan triggered by renewed civilian casualties as a result of a US Special Forces night raid, the authors refer to Kate Clark’s AAn report about another operation gone wrong during the 2010 election campaign, saying that ‘found that the man who was singled out had been living peacefully in Kabul for more than two years and was well known there’ while ‘NATO has continued to maintain that it had the right person’.

Elf Zivilisten getötet (Takhar: Eleven civilians killed)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 19 May 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig describes the violent protests in Taloqan after Western soldiers have killed four civilians in a night raid, and how such night raids have been extensively increased by US forces. He also describes why weapons are still abundant in Northern Afghanistan and how illegal armed groups that shoudl have been disarmed are now re-mobilised to fight the Taleban.

Der tödliche Aufstand von Talokan (Deadly Uprising in Taloqan)
Stern online, 18 May 2011
AAN author and ‘Stern’ corrspondent reports about the latest violent demonstrations in Taloqan that followed a Special Forces night raid in a village outside the provincial capital during which four civilians were killed and two others nabbed, said by ISAF to be directed against an IMU facilitator while Afghan sources quoted here claim just a ‘simple Taleb’ (i.e. not high-ranking) was killed. The report draws a parallel to the Takhar case analysed by AAN’s Kate Clark.

‘Man muss die pragmatischen Taliban stärken’ (The Pragmatic Taleban Need to be Strengthened)
Deutsche Welle, 18 May 2011
Transcription of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about how to conduct negotiations with the Taleban. Thomas pleads again for the broad involvement of local Afghan (civil society and other) actors as well as of regional countries.

Caught in the crossfire
Foreign Policy, 16 May 2011
Michael Semple renders how he spoke to Muhammad Amin, the intended target of the botched 2 September US Special Forces attack in Takhar province that killed the wrong man (and several others), described in kate Clark’s latest AAN report. ‘The Amin I met in March of 2011 clearly was the man Special Forces had been hunting. The clinching details were that he had served as Taliban deputy governor for Takhar, elaborated on family relationships that the Special Forces had notes on, and even carried an identity card. He also shared enough information on his family background and career to locate him in the northern Afghanistan sociopolitical landscape like a marker on the terrain in Google Earth. […] The September 2 tragedy could have been avoided if the dossier on Amin’s insurgency career had been used to put him on a watch list rather than a kill list.’

Waffen für die Dörfer (Arms for the Villages – not online)
Frankfurter Allgemeine, 16 May 2011
In an article about the Afghan Local Police, Friederike Boege reports from Kunduz that many locals complain about the militias’ robberies but hold at their favour that they contributed to the Taleban having pushed out of many areas. She also reports that there is ‘skepticism’ about the ALP mainly amongst Pashtuns. One tribal elders says that ‘it would be better to strengthen the regular police’. This is echoed by a quote from AAN’s Thomas Ruttig: ‘This is a short-term solution that could do a lot of harm in the long run’ and that ‘Afghan history’ has shown that it will be difficut to disbandon such militias when they once have been established.

The ‘Northern’ Taliban insurgents
Killid magazine (Kabul), 14 May 2011
The Kabul-based magazine prublishes a summarized version of the executive summary of a Antonio Giustozzi’s and Christoph Reuter’s AAN report.

Are Special Forces and targeted killings the answer?
Global Post, 13 May 2011
Jean MacKenzie picks up Kate Clark’s AAN report about the targeted US killing gone wrong in Takhar province.

Intelligence failures ‘led to deaths of Afghan civilians’
Independent, 12 May 2011
Julius Cavendish reports about Kate Clark’s latest AAN report and links it to this newspaper’s earlier investigation about ‘a US-sponsored warlord is accused of raping, torturing and killing villagers who were not part of his interest group’.

Afghan Raids Common, But What If Target’s Wrong
NPR, 12 May 2011
Quil Lawrence’s reporting about Kate Clark’s AAN report ‘The Takhar attack’ in an audio.

Neue Friedenschance für Afghanistan? 
Deutsche Welle, 12 May 2011
In a report about a podium discussion in Berlin with Ahmed Rashid (read what he said in our blog) and the German AfPak Special Rep Michael Steiner, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that ‘the different ethnic groups, women and civil society organisations also have to be made part of the political talks about a settlement with the Taleban’ which he called ‘urgently necessary’.

Tserena: De Taleb meshrano hadafi wazhene na-same payle lari (Research: Targeted killings of Taleb leaders have incorrect basis)
BBC Persian and Pashto, 11 May 2011
An evening broadcast and discussion on the news programme about Kate Clark’s AAN report on ‘The Takhar attack’, another kill-or-capture operation gone wrong.

Killing Democracy with Bad Intelligence
Empty Wheel (blog), 11 May 2011
Author discusses the details and implications of AAN’s Takhar report: “The report discusses the legal implications of this mistaken killing in depth–the failure to cross-check intelligence and the failure to protect others in the convoy who gave no sign of belligerence. But the metaphor of it all–of the US using faulty intelligence to bomb an Afghan trying to practice democracy–captures what we’re doing in Afghanistan so much more aptly.”

Targeted killings and two worlds in Afghanistan: inside the Takhar attack
AfPakChannel, 11 May 2011
Read an introductory blog of AAN’s Kate Clark on her ‘Takhar attack’ report for the AfPakChannel: ‘In the complex political landscape of Afghanistan, it is not enough to track phones. It is certainly not enough to base a targeted killing on. The analysts had not built up a biography of their target, Muhammad Amin —where he was from, what his jihadi background was, and so on. They had not been aware of the existence of a well-known person by the name of Zabet Amanullah. They had not had access to the sort of common, everyday information available to Afghans watching election coverage on television. They had not made even the most basic background checks about a target they had been tracking for months. Instead, they relied on signals intelligence and network analysis (which attempts to map insurgent networks by monitoring phone calls), without cross-checking with any human intelligence.’

School in Taliban Territory Shows Perils of U.S. Pullout
Wall Street Journal, 11 May 2011
Article describes the international military’s struggle to have a positive impact in Andar district in Ghazni. “In many places, the government is very reliant on international troops,” says Fabrizio Foschini, a Kabul-based researcher with the Afghanistan Analyst Network. “It’s unsustainable.”

Murky Identities and Ties Hinder NATO’s Hunt for Afghan Insurgents, Report Says
New York Times, 10 May 2011
This New York Times articles discusses AAN’s recently released Takhar report, but didn’t get it fully right. Here a corrected version (but still not getting it quite right).

‘Targetted Killings’ in Afghanistan (not online)
WDR 2 (German radio), 10 May 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig answers questions on Kate Clark’s new report ‘The Takhar attack’ and the role of targetted killings in the US Afghanistan strategy in general (in German).

Did a controversial U.S. airstrike kill the wrong man?
PBS Frontline, 9 May 2011
Look at a video of Stephen Grey’s programme that draws heavily from research by Kate Clark for AAN’s latest Thematic Report and read, among others, General Petraeus’ response. A transcript of the programme can be found here:

Kampf um Afghanistan – Wann ist ein Krieg zu Ende?
Hessischer Rundfunk (Germany), 9 May 2011
Listen to or download the podcast of this hour-long programme discussing how the Afghan war can be ended (AAN’s Thomas Ruttig contributing to the talking-to-the-Taleban discussion) and trying to draw lessons from other wars (in German)

De mannen die niet bestaan (The men that don’t exist)
De Pers (NL daily), 8 May 2011
Article on the US Special Forces quotes an (unspecified) AAN report that describes them as operating ‘in the darkest pockets of the insurgency’.

The death of Bin Laden and the Whiteness of the Whale
Bold Youth (blog), 6 May 2011
“With regard to Afghanistan specifically, the excellent Martine van Bijlert writes some brief thoughts on the Afghan war without bin Laden.”

Frontline Taliban promise revenge attacks after bin Laden
Reuters, 6 May 2011
Article quotes the recently released AAN report on the insurgency in northern Afghanistan, that despite setbacks against Afghan and coalition troops over the past year, the Taliban had managed to widen its influence well beyond strongholds in the south: “The Taliban not only want to fight the Afghan government, but want to replace it.”

Bin Laden death may speed Afghan talks: experts
AFP, 5 May 2011
Both AAN Senior Analysts Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig are quoted here on the repercussions of OBL’s death, the relationship of al-Qaida and the Taleban and on possible talks with the Taleban.

‘Al Qaida spielt in der Kampftätigkeit in Afghanistan keine Rolle’
Cicero online, 5 May 2011
In this interview with the online section of the German magazine, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig argues that OBL’s death will not change much on the Afghan battlefield because al-Qaida does not play a significant role there militarily.

Bin Ladens Tod ändert für die Taliban nichts
Badische Zeitung (Germany), 5 May 2011
Willi Germund, in an analysis of the al-Qaeda-Taleban relationship, quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, Carnegie’s Gilles Dorronsoro and a Kandahar tribal elder all saying that OBL’s death will not influence the Taleban much.

Peace Without Justice: A Strategy for Carnage in Afghanistan
Peace Actino Montgomery (blog, 5 May 2011
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is extensively quoted on the current military strategy, that leans heavily on night raids and the ALP: “It seems that the U.S. and NATO cannot imagine any other options for getting out of Afghanistan other than to kill their way out or buy their way out.”

Der nahe und der ferne Feind (not online)
Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 5 May 2011
Thomas Ruttig about the al-Qaida-Taleban relationship and the repercussions of OBL’s death.

Keine Bin-Laden-Fans (No Bin Laden Fans)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 3 May 2011
Article by Thomas Ruttig arguing that the relationship between al-Qaida and the Taliban is often overstated and that the death of bin Laden could actually open space for a new policy – if the United States play ball.

Nach dem Tod Bin Ladens: Rückzug aus Afghanistan?
Radio Eins (Germany), 4 May 2011
Listen to AAN’s Thomas Ruttig commenting on OBL’s death and the intensified discussion in Germany about a troop withdrawal now (in German).

What awaits Afghanistan now that Osama bin Laden has been killed?
Himal (Nepal), 4 May 2011
Aunohita Mojumdar compiles Afghan voices on OBL’s death and also quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog: ‘It has to be emphasised that the Afghan Taliban – apart from a few individuals – have never said and, more importantly, shown in their [actions] that they follow the al-Qaeda strategy of worldwide jihad. Instead, they have concentrated exclusively on Afghanistan and those parts of Pakistan where they have their logistics and fall-back positions.’

Gemischte Gefühle in Kabul
Swiss National Public Radio, 3 May 2011
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini talks about how relations between Al-Qaeda and the Taleban changed from the 90s up to recent years (audio file, commentary and translation in German).

Osama, Obama und das Afghanistan-Dilemma
Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 4 May 2011
This article on US post-OBL policy options quotes from both AAN blogs of Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig

Bin Laden leaves a dangerous legacy with al Qaeda
CTV, 3 May 2011
Article explains that for Afghans, what resonates is that bin Laden was killed on Pakistani soil and quotes Martine’s blog: “To most Afghans this proves and confirms what they have told the world all along, It can be summed up as: Pakistani double-dealing, international indifference, unnecessary Afghan deaths.”

Osama’s death raises questions in Afghanistan
AlJazeera, 3 May 2011
“I guess the Taliban are now trying to figure out how to position themselves,” says Martine van Bijlert, the co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network. “They will want to use the mobilising potential of bin Laden’s death, but they will also want to leave their position vis-a-vis al-Qaeda sufficiently ambiguous to keep all future options open.”

Twenty-five fighters killed, wounded near Afghan-Pakistan border in retaliatory strike
Reuters, 3 May 2011
Article quotes Martine’s blog on the killing of bin Laden: “I don’t think the death of bin Laden will directly impact the fighting capabilities of any of the parties engaged in the war in Afghanistan,” and “I guess the Taliban are now trying to figure out how to position themselves.”

Pakistan, U.S. vow to fight terrorism after bin Laden death
Reuters, 3 May 2011
In a report that says that the US and Pakistan had reaffirmed their commitment to fight terrorism after OBL’s death, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert’s blog is quoted that ‘relationships with Pakistan — both for the U.S. and Afghanistan — can still go both ways, It depends on Pakistan’s public stance and what kind of story all sides want to spin. There is the possibility to present this as another “change of heart” moment.’

Taliban delay on bin Laden death speaks of agenda
Reuters, 3 May 2011
The news agency quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog urging those in Washington who are favouring a political solution in Afghanistan to not stop pushing for this even ‘when the Taleban issue an official statement of solidarity with the deceased’, as well AAN’s researcher Gran Hewad: ‘The Taliban are arguing that they are a national jihad movement, not a global jihadi movement, which al Qaeda is.’

World reacts to death of Osama Bin Laden
The Hawaii Independent, 2 May 2011
Hawaii Independent quotes the New York Times, the Guardian, Barack Obama and Martine van Bijlert.

Afghan violence seen dragging on despite bin Laden death
Reuters, 2 May 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert thinks that OBL’s killing is “a symbolic blow, but practically the impact will be limited. I don’t think the Taliban rely on al Qaeda for support. I think the big question is how it will play out in the United States … close attention will be paid to how it plays out in public opinion.”

Now that bin Laden is dead, what’s next for Afghanistan?
Global Post, 2 May 2011
Here, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert comments on President Karzai’s reaction on OBL’s death: “The way he probably sees it is that if the Taliban come out and distance themselves from Al Qaeda, that could give the U.S. a reason to say that it has accomplished its mission and leave. That then would end the war. But I don’t think that is realistic.”


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