Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – October 2010

10 min

Ett fuskval ‘bra nog åt afghaner’ (Bogus elections good enough for Afghans)
Fredskoalitionen, 31 October 2010
Valövervakare Martine van Bijlert från ‘Afghanistan Analysts Network’ beskrev den Oberoende Valkommissionens attityd på detta sätt: ”Om man vill veta var de övriga rösterna kommer ifrån, har de olagligt lagts till de ogiltiga, så nu har de avlägsnats, och det är egentligen allt man behöver veta.”

Afghan warlord’s [Matiullah’s] men trained in Australia
The Age and Brisbane Times, 29 Oct. 2010
Six senior militia members loyal to Uruzgan warlord have been flown to Australia to train with elite special forces as part of a covert strategy to strengthen military operations against the Taliban, the Australian media outlets report. They quote AAN’s Martine van Bijlert as commenting that ”[w]e’re shaping [Afghanistan] to our short-term needs, rather than what the country needs in the long term. Does the country really need commanders with what are in essence private armies?”

Leaked papers shed light on a dubious ally 
The Age (Australia), 29 October 2010
Another article on Mattiullah in Uruzgan quotes Martine van Bijlert on whether he is involved in large scale corruption and gross human rights abuses: ”In general in Afghanistan, commanders with that amount of power can get away with a hell of a lot, and they do.”

Hjälparbetare oftare i skottlinjen 
Sveriges Radio, 28 October 2010
Audio file and transcript of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the reasons why humanitarain space is shrinking: Thomas Ruttig, tysk afghanistankännare som driver Afghanistan Analysts Network, som sammanställer kunskap och erfarenheter och kontinuerligt analyserar situationen i Afghanistan. – Det är extremt farligt att bedriva hjälparbete i Afghanistan, det finns knappt något område kvar där hjälparbetare obeväpnade kan röra sig utan att riskera sina liv. Det har absolut krympt det humanitära utrymmet och det är mycket tragiskt för afghanerna som behöver hjälpen, säger Thomas Ruttig.

Big Men, Big Money, Big Voting Scam, 28 October 2010
Ann Jones vividly describes the election in Nooristan through the eyes of candidate Mahbouba Seraj – well worth the read – and quotes Martine van Bijlert on the mysterious vote total of 5.6 million and on election proceedings that look “eerily familiar”.

‘Neue Generation’ [of Taleban]
Spiegel, 25 October 2010 (print only)
In an interview about talks with the Taleban, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig states that such reports are more part of a #wave of good news’ created for the forthcoming NATO summit in Lisbon and as ‘an attempt to trigger a split amongst the insurgents’. He also criticises the General Petraeus’ ‘Capture or Kill# strategy as helping to create a new generation of intransigent Taleban commanders (in German, only in the print issue).

Karzai confirms report of cash payments from Iran
BBC, 25 October 2010
AAN’s advisory board chairman Francesc Vendrell points to the hypocrisy surrounding this story saying: ‘Many governments that hope to court influence are paying and providing money to the president’s office in what I would call a slush fund. This has been going on since the very beginning, and the Americans are very much in the vanguard. So I’m not surprised the Iranians are doing it. […] “It is in the interest of any Afghan government to be in good relations, with at least one neighbour, if not the two major ones. What bothers me is that the West has failed to establish a kind of government run by rule of law and with an established system that would make it impossible or totally unacceptable to use these means of gaining influence.’

Talks with the Taliban Still Face Many Hurdles
Time magazine, 25 October 2010
Jason Motlagh quotes Thomas Ruttig’s latest AAn report saying that ’53 of the 70 peace-council members are associated with armed groups that fought in the country’s internal conflicts, including a dozen members who held positions in the Taliban’s government from 1996 to 2001. The Network does credit a subset of the former Taliban in the peace council with working to “obtain a role as pioneer thinkers on peace and reconciliation-related issues” that could become a “meaningful channel for future negotiations.” Otherwise, only a small minority — composed of 10 women and a couple of men — is without past affiliations, an imbalance that’s troubling to a host of Afghan civic organizations that fear that freedom of speech, women’s rights and other hard-won advances are bound to be abridged in negotiations with the Taliban’.

Why so coy about our Afghan allies? 
The Age, 24 October 2010
With the Australian parliament debating the country’s engagement in Afghanistan, the daily argues that if MPs ‘want to understand the context in which our forces operate, [they] would benefit from reading two reports on Oruzgan, both from well-informed Dutch sources. One is by former Dutch diplomat [and AAn Senior Analyst] Martine van Bijlert, who outlines factors behind the Taliban resurgence in Oruzgan; the other, by the independent Kabul-based organisation The Liaison Office, is an assessment of the Dutch effort in the province.#

Talking About Taliban Talks – Just Psyops?
Newshoggers (blog), 22 October 2010
Steve Hynd quotes both Martine van Bijlert (“suggesting more smoke than the fire warrants”) and Thomas Ruttig (“on a scale of hundred we are somewhere between one and two”).

Talk of Afghan Peace Talks Legit or ‘Information Operation’?
McClatchy newspapers, 22 October 2010
‘We have the impression that all of the commanders that have been taken out have been replaced quite quickly,’ said Thomas Ruttig of the Afghan[istan] Analysts Network, a respected independent policy institute. On a scale of one to 100, Ruttig put progress on peace talks ‘at somewhere between one and two.’

Are Afghan ‘Peace Talks’ an Overblown Charade?
The Atlantic Wire, 22 October 2010
The blog links to a number of comments on the recent wave of ‘talks about talks’, including Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog ‘Talks about Talks Again’

Afghanistan War: The talk about “The Talks” is just talk
Global Post (blog), 21 October 2010
Jean MacKenzie quotes Martine van Bijlert’s blog: “The case is being intentionally overstated. [Officials are] suggesting more fire than the smoke warrants, and … feeding the press information about events that are likely to have taken place in the past.”

Peace moves in Afghanistan as fighting goes on
IRIN, 21 October 2010
With regards to current reports of an intensification of contacts, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert calls ‘the fate of [Mulla] Omar’ a ‘contentious issue between President Karzai and his American patrons’. She further describes the current US approach: ‘The Americans want to disrupt and weaken the insurgency and by doing so force the Taliban into peace talks from a position of weakness.’ But, she concludes: ‘Peace talks usually require confidence-building rather than increased military operations.’

Talks With Taleban Ongoing, But Are Being Overstated
Newsweek, 21 October 2010
Martine’s blog on the talks with the Taleban is the first AAN blog to be reposted on the Newsweek website.

Taliban leaders in talks lack ‘influence’
Washington Times, 21 October 2010
Ashish Sen quotes Matt Waldman as saying that he doubts the Taliban representatives who are participating in the talks have the support of militant commanders on the ground. He also quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig that although ‘there is movement in the field of talks with insurgents, but on a scale of 1 and 100, we are [probably] between 1 and 2’.

Afghan Election Commission Is Praised for Its Fairness, in Spite of Tainted Voting
New York Times, 20 October 2010
While UN envoy de Mistura sees ‘considerable fraud’ in the parliamentary elections but still praises the IEC, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert states that ‘[t]he general feeling among Afghans if they see lots of commanders win is that the election was hijacked. And that is despite the disqualification of a large number of votes.’

Afghan Govt Throws Out Nearly A Quarter Of Ballots
Associated Press, 20 October 2010
Martine van Bijlert on shifting turnout figures: “What I’ve seen over the last elections, whenever figures don’t add up it can mean funny business, but often it means there was a loss of control,”

Afghan Govt Throws Out Nearly A Quarter Of Ballots
Associated Press, 20 October 2010
Martine van Bijlert on shifting turnout figures: “What I’ve seen over the last elections, whenever figures don’t add up it can mean funny business, but often it means there was a loss of control,”

Afghanistan: plenty of crime, no justice
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 October 2010
Article by Bette Dam quotes Sari Kouvo on the lack of progress in Afghanistan in the field of rule of law: the US and the international community are in ‘exit mode’ and are seeking stability at any cost. Many people who may be involved in atrocities, dubbed ‘spoilers’ in Afghanistan, are seen as either too dangerous to marginalise or as potentially important to the peace process.

Afghanistan election officials ‘to void one million votes’
Daily Telegraph, 19 October 2010
‘The suspicion of Afghans is that it will be uneven and the disqualifications won’t so much affect local power holders or those that are linked to the government,’ AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted about the published preliminary results of the 18 September election in Afghanistan.

The Peril’s of Mapping Afghanistan’s Conflict
UN Dispatch (blog), 19 October 2010
Blog by Una Moore on the UN’s supressed conflict mapping, makes mention of AAN blog that points interested parties to where they can find the leaked report.

Official: Afghanistan to void some 1 million votes
AP, 19 October 2010
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert comments on the ability of the Afghan elections commissions to decide on fraudulant votes: ‘The suspicion of Afghans is that it will be uneven and the disqualifications won’t so much affect local power holders or those that are linked to the government’. For further background on the subject see her 17 October blog ‘The IEC between pressure and scrutiny’ on the AAN website.

Humanitarian space in Afghanistan is diminishing
IRIN radio, 14 October 2010
Listen to an audio file of an interview in this week’s IRIN Talks with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig who says the humanitarian space in Afghanistan is diminishing. The podcast is under 10 minutes long.

High Peace Council supposed to talk to the Taliban
Deutsche Welle (English service), 14 October 2010
Listen to an audio file of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig about the HPC, chances for talks and reconciliation and Pakistan’s role in it.

I raid visti dal basso: una strage di innocenti
Il Manifesto, 12 October 2010
AAN’s Fabrizio Foschini is quoted as saying in connection with the discussion in Italy about a changed, more ‘kinetic’ strategy in Afghanistan after the killing of four Italian soldiers in Farah province that «Che i bombardamenti siano la cosa più odiosa di una guerra è abbastanza ovvio – dice – e anche la loro efficacia, da qualsiasi punto la si voglia vedere, è molto dubbia. Nel caso specifico bisogna valutare il terreno: stiamo parlando di tre distretti del Farah passati sotto controllo italiano. Due di questi, il Gulistan (dove sono morti gli alpini italiani sabato, ndr) e Bakwa, sono considerati tra i più instabili di una regione, il Farah in generale, che è area di guerra vera e propria dal 2006 – e direi per tre motivi: l’infiltrazione taleban da Sud, anche per via della pressione esercitata nell’Helmand da americani e britannici; gli effetti dei raid aerei, che hanno creato risentimento e odio e alienato in molti casi il favore della popolazione civile. E, ultimo motivo ma non meno importante, per la presenza di un piccolo ma diffuso gruppo di potere legato al presidente Hamid Karzai che fa il bello e il cattivo tempo e che gestisce il 90% dei “posti” importanti. Ciò ha suscitato ulteriore risentimento e ovviamente ha creato degli “esclusi”: gente che per i taleban diventa facile reclutare».

Karzai Puts Peace Hopes in Hands of Warlords
Eurasianet, 12 October 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig calls the High Peace Council ‘a reflection of the current set-up of the ‘Karzai Coalition.’ It is Kabul and government-centric […]. Most of the people are those he [Karzai] is consulting anyway.’

‘Un aereo senza bombe non è un aereo da guerra’
Il Riformista, 12 October 2010
In reaction to the killing of four Italian soldiers in Farah province, the Italian daily quotes ‘Afghan voices’, amongst them AAN’s Afghan colleague Gran Hewad who says that shifting to a more aggressive strategy might result in ‘even more Italian casualties’ while it will be difficult to evaluate the efficiency of its impact on the insurgency.

Obskure Taliban-Kontakte
tageszeitung (Berlin), 9 October 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig comments on recent reports about ‘high-level’ contacts between the Afghan government and the Taleban as hyped.

The War with the Taleban
New York Review of Books, 28 October 2010
The NYRB calls AAN ‘an excellent source of information’, quotes Martine van Bijlert that ‘corruption is now so bad that ordinary Afghans regard the government as “morally and politically illegitimate”’ and also from Antonio Giustozzi and Christoph Reuter’s AAN report ‘The Northern Front’.

Pakistan’s Role in Afghan War Questioned
Voice of America, 4 October 2010
‘Though some of the U.S.-NATO military actions inside Pakistan can be justified legally as ‘hot pursuit’, the danger is the growing inflammation of Pakistani public opinion against the U.S.,’ says former EU Special Rep to Afghanistan and head of the AAN Advisory Board , Francesc Vendrell. He also says there is a danger that the cross-border actions will trigger what he calls ‘increased sabotage of our efforts in Afghanistan by the ISI’.

‘Trend ist, dass die Taliban in mehr Gebieten aktiv werden’
Tagesanzeiger (CH), 7 October 2010
Interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the latest reports of ‘high-ranking’ talks between the Kabul government and the Taleban.

Taliban’s high command in secret talks to end war in Afghanistan
The Independent, 7 October 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig advocates caution. ‘It’s more talks about talks and there’s also messaging involved so it’s spreading the good news without much of a basis… It’s messaging for the countries that have troops here. They have to the beautify [the situation]. Paint it in a rosier colour.’

‘Hier fallen sie nicht ins Gewicht’
Frankfurter Rundschau, 6 October 2010
In this interview, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says that the propganda effect of the German jihadists at the Afghan-Pak border is stronger then their fire power; that US reports about killings of hundreds of Haqqani fighters had no effect on the scope of the network’s activity and that he doubts whether there is a ‘strategy of talks’ with the Taleban wenig.

Der Drohnenkrieg (Drone War)
tageszeitung (Berlin), 6 October 2010
Thomas Ruttig explains which organisations the around 100 German jihadists at the Afghan-Pakistani border belong to and how the US operates against them.

Is UN’s ‘Collective Ambiguity’ Just Another Term for Surrender?
Eurasianet, 5 October 2010
Anohita Mojumdar looks at the role of the UN during the Afghan elections in 2009 and 2010 and finds out that current UN envoy Staffan de Mistura finds his organisation’s monitoring role in 2009 ‘a mistake’ and international observer missions ineffectual because ‘by the way, foreigners do not speak the language.’ Maybe, in Unama.

Criminal groups pose significant risk to NGOs 
IRIN, 4 October 2010
There are no guarantees any more in areas, where neither the government nor the Taliban are fully in control, and criminal groups operate freely, said AAN’s Kate Clark. ‘[R]estriction’ was becoming a common approach for foreign journalists and aid workers.

Afghanistan and Iraq Elections Update
Daily Kos, 2 October 2010
Blogger discusses Iraqi and Afghan elections and one of the commenters quotes Martine van Bijlert’s pre-election report: “Also unclear is whether the polling centres were released in a wholesale manner with an occasional, possibly random, removal of individual polling stations, or whether the process was intentionally manipulated, with some polling centres being released and others not, depending on whose votes they contained

India in Afghanistan: Nation building or proxy war?
Caravan magazine, October 2010
In Matthieu Aikins’ next coup – an extensive rendering of India’s activities and interests in Afghanistan (seen by him on the decline vis-a-vis Pakistan) and with intersting details of RAW-NDS cooperation – AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted on the power of the Afghan intelligence service and about the 2010 Peace Jirga as ‘political theatre, it did actually empower Karzai. The foreigners were not in any position to go against him.’

Waging Peace: Afghanistan Today: Karzai, Reconciliation, and Western Strategy
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Sept/Oct 2010 archives
Brief, somewhat accurate, report of Martine van Bijlert’s 29 June 2010 talk at the New America Foundation.

Tiden arbejder for Taleban
Kristeligt Dagblad, 1 October 2010
With a quote from AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (access to full article only for subscribers).


Pakistan Press Taliban US Government