Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – October 2011

10 min

Deadly Taliban Kabul attack highlights US reliance on private contractors
Christian Science Monitor, 30 October 2011
After it transpired that there was a number of contractors among the victims of the 29 October suicide attack in Kabul, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig comments on the role of such contactors: ‘Information about this aspect of the war only comes out when something happens or goes wrong, but all in all it’s a very secretive and not transparent part of the war. [The recent bombing] should be used as an opportunity to discuss their role, and also better define their role so it becomes more transparent what they’re doing over here.’

Selbstmordanschlag in Afghanistan
ARD (German TV), 29 October 2011
Watch a video on the Kabul suicide attack which killed 5 Afghans, 13 NATO soldiers and contractors, including a short statement of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig pleading for a continuation of efforts towards a political rather a military solution in Afghanistan.

Afganistanin joukot yrittävät ottaa vastuun maastaan
Verkkouutiset (Finland), 27 October 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted in this Finnish newspaper: ‘Talebanit voivat edelleen hyökätä mihin vain ja milloin vain, jos niin haluavat. Tämä nähtiin taannoisessa Kabulin hyökkäyksessä, ja se pitää kansan koko ajan varpaillaan. Talebanit tekivät viime kuussa näyttävän hyökkäyksen aivan Kabulin ydinkeskustaan, jonka pitäisi olla koko maan tarkimmin vartioituja seutuja. Kabulin valvonta jätettiin Afganistanin omien joukkojen vastuulle jo vuonna 2008. – Vastuun siirtäminen on oikein, mutta jo ensimmäisessä vaiheessa nähtiin ne riskit, joita siinä on. Afganistanin armeija ei tule toimeen omillaan, Ruttig jatkaa.’

Afghans face greater test with second handovers
AFP, 27 October 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here saying that ‘([t]ransition is) the right thing to do but the first phase also showed what the risks of the handover are in a situation where the ANSF (Afghan national security forces) are not yet there’, quality-wise. Taleban attacks in kabul and elsewhere have increased the feeling of insecurity in the population.

Dagboek Kunduz: ‘Wie door een rietje kijkt ziet een mooie missie’ 
Socialistische Partij blog, 25 October 2011
Dutch Parliamentarian Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party) describes the latest Parliamentary visit to Afghanistan, during which he also met AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: ‘a nuanced description of how difficult it is to achieve progress; many Afghans feel insecure and sceptical, because they don’t know what is going to happen’.

U.N. Tally Excluded Most Afghan Civilian Deaths in Night Raids 
IPS, 25 October 2011
Article refers to AAN’s report on the 2010 Takhar killing (by AAN’s Kate Clark): ‘U.S. Special Forces officers belonging to a unit that had killed nine election workers along with a former Taliban insurgent they had mistakenly believed was the Taliban shadow governor of Takhar province in September 2010 told former BBC reporter Kate Clark last December that anyone found in the company of a person who is targeted is regarded as an insurgent as well.’

Is US policy in Afghanistan a contradiction?
AFP, 24 October 2011
In an analysis of Hillary Clinton’s latest catchphrase ‘fight, talk, build’, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says that he thinks that it is ‘important’ that ‘she doesn’t rule out a political solution with the insurgents and I think that’s the right thing to do’ and that the US should not try to ‘humiliate’ the Taliban. He adds that the Taleban ‘might not be ready to accept a pluralist Afghanistan [but] that’s what we need to find out’.

Zwischen Schwarzmalerei und Lobhudelei (not online)
Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 20 October 2011
Die USA lancierten vor zehn Jahren mithilfe der lokalen Vereinigten Front ihren Angriff auf die Talibanherrschaft in Afghanistan. Der Westen feiert den Einmarsch heute als Erfolg. Doch im Land liegt noch vieles im Argen, berichtet AAN’s Thomas Ruttig

Killing Rabbani
Foreign Policy (AfPak Channel), 19 October 2011
AAN’s Kate Clark discusses the circumstances and implications of Rabbani’s assassination for Foreign Policy’s AfPak channel.

Bad Guys vs. Worse Guys in Afghanistan
New York Times, 19 October 2011
AAN analyst Gran Hewad is quoted in this article about the problems and complexities surrounding the ALP (Afghan Local Police) program.

ISAF fiddles the figures
The Hindu, 19 October 2011
Article discussing AAN’s latest report on ISAF’s press releases starts with the observation that “Press releases issued during wars may be deemed to be closer to propaganda than anything else but they still need careful analysis.”

Einiges besser, nichts gut in Afghanistan
Das Blättchen (Berlin), 17 October 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig describes the balance after 10 years of the international intervention in Afghanistan (in German)

Success doubted
Oman Daily Observer, 16 October 2011
Article discusses AAN’s recent report ‘A Knock on the Door. 22 Months of ISAF Press Releases’ and quotes its author Alex Strick van Linschoten: “What we are saying is that we don’t know enough to judge the kill-capture raid as successful”.

Troops set to withdraw from several Afghan bases by early next year
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2011
The Australian daily uses the figures given on killed Taleban ‘leaders’ in Uruzgan province, from Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn’s AAN latest report.

Reading between the lines in the Afghan war 
The Globe and Mail, 14 October 2011
Graeme Smith responds to the AAN report and ISAF’s response: ‘Interestingly, the military statement concluded with a call for future analysis to be based on more complete data. That was the same conclusion emphasized by the study authors.’

ISAF responds to use of AAN news releases study
ISAF Public Affairs Office, 14 October 2011
ISAF responds to AAN’s report ‘A Knock on the Door. 22 Months of ISAF Press Releases’ arguing that, given the fact that the release of information through ISAF press releases is by design incomplete, it can only lead to faulty conclusions and inaccurate data.

ISAF says “Don’t quote me, bro!”
Kings of War (blog), 14 October 2011
A reaction to AAN’s most recent report and ISAF’s response: “Which begs the question: What, exactly, is the purpose of ISAF reports in the first place? Is ISAF seriously going on record to say that the data that they are making public cannot be relied upon?”

Mining for Silver Bullets: Why Afghan Minerals Won’t Save the Country 
Time, 14 October 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: “Suddenly, out of nowhere Afghanistan has big mineral reserves. Of course it has the minerals, but it conveniently completes the narrative that says actually, once we transition, we are leaving Afghanistan in a situation where pretty soon it will be able to look after itself…. It takes good legislation, it takes a more capable and a cleaner government to manage that properly. So it’s a very shaky premise to say that because we have all these minerals in the ground Afghanistan is going to be alright very soon.”

Afghan rights worries after eviction of hunger striker
Reuters, 14 October 2011
On the forceful removal of Semin Barakzai: “Some people within the parliament I can imagine going crazy about what happened, some because they support her political demands…and others because they share the use of non-violent tactics to put pressure on the government,” said Fabrizio Foschini, at Afghanistan Analysts’ Network.

NATO wins in Afghanistan may be exaggerated: report
AFP, 13 October 2011
The news agency informs about the latest AAN report by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn about what ISAF press releases are saying and how reliable they are and about ISAF’s angry reply.

Mapped: The U.S.’ Kill-Capture Missions In Afghanistan
Wired (blog), 13 October 2011
Blogger Spencer Ackerman writes: ‘There’s precious little independent information detailing the thousands of operations U.S. forces undertake in Afghanistan to kill Taliban leaders or take their soldiers off the battlefield. So two researchers decided to mine the press releases the NATO military command announces about those missions for hidden patterns. And The Guardian even plotted their findings on a Google map.’

Nato übertreibt Erfolge gegen Taliban
Zeit (Hamburg), 13 October 2011
The German weekly’s website picked up AAN’s latest report, authored by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, emphasising that NATO had exaggerated its kill-and-capture strategy against Taleban commanders and that only five per cent killed during such attacks were the intended targets.

Nato success against Taliban in Afghanistan ‘may be exaggerated’
The Guardian, 12 October 2011
Article by Julian Borger discusses AAN’s report ‘A Knock on the Door. 22 Months of ISAF Press Releases’ by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn.

Afghan Opium Output Surges
Wall Street Journal, 12 October 2011
In Afghanistan’s current system, “the drug economy guarantees power and profit,” German researcher Citha D. Maass wrote in a recent research paper for the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Afghan hunger striker MP Semin Barakzai near death
The Australian, 11 October 2011
Martine van Bijlert from the Afghanistan Analysts Network said: “The elections have been so messy it’s impossible to tell who has a right to a seat. But the people who lost their seats did not necessarily do so because they did something wrong, it was because the vote changed. Quite a few others who kept their seats were most probably guilty of massive fraud.”

Fighting Shadows: Why the U.S. Will Struggle to Defeat the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan
Time, 10 October 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that recent successes against the Haqqani network might be overblown: Recently captured ‘[Haqqani leader] Mali Khan has not been one of the top five Haqqani network commanders. His name was not widely known, and he was more of local importance. In the news of his capture, I see more of an attempt to project progress in the fight against this Taliban network, as we saw a few years ago in the fight against al-Qaeda, when a number of previously unknown number fours and fives were discovered and killed or captured’.

Zehn Jahre Afghanistan-Krieg: Wie weiter?
DRS1 (Swiss radio), 9 October 2011
Listen to an audio of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on future prospects for Afghanistan (in German).

10 Jahre Afghanistan-Krieg
DRS4 (Swiss radio), 7 October 2011
Listen to the audio of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German).

Beware the Afghan political cauldron
The Examiner, 8 October 2011
Article quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert quoting a businessman from Balkh and a businessman and former politician from Ghazni about the Taleban (leaving out the balance provided by other quotes).

‘Erst nachdenken, dann die Fanfare ansetzen!’
SR2 (German radio), 7 October 2011
Listen to the audio of an interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German).

Nicht so, wie es sein sollte
tageszeitung (Berlin), 7 October 2011
Thomas Ruttig’s balance of 10 years Western intervention in Afghanistan – ‘not as it could be’ or ‘some improvement, but nothing’s good’ (in German).

Afghanistan voor dummies (in Dutch)
RTL Nieuws, 7 October 2011
More comments from AAN’s Martine van Bijlert (with cat) on 10 years international intervention in Afghanistan.

Overzicht: 10 jaar in Afghanistan
RTL Nieuws, 7 October 2011
Quick overview of 10 years international intervention in Afghanistan with comments by AAN’s Martine van Bijlert (in Dutch).

Afghanistan civil war a significant risk, ‘cold-eyed’ British review to warn
The Guardian, 7 October 2011
Martine van Bijlert: “Anyone who is following the situation in Afghanistan is worried. A civil war is a real possibility… There is a real feeling of instability, that the future is unsure. People don’t know who are their friends and enemies. So they try to make themselves ready for any eventuality, positioning themselves politically and worrying about how strong they are. People are falling back on old networks and old loyalties.”

Afghanistan droht von Bürgerkrieg zerfressen zu werden
Welt (Berlin), 7 October 2011
Another article with extensive quotes of AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the ten year balance in Afghanistan (in German): ‘Most Afghans are not better off than 2001. They can’t ecen move more freely now than under the Taleban, although for different reasons. (…) Money was thrown after the problems (without much oversight) so that a super-rich upper class emerged. (…) Democracy was dropped from B52s instead of building it from below’ and has been discredited because ‘the President was determined from abroad’. Now, ‘most Afghans are afraid of a new round of the civil wars’.

Afghanistan am Scheideweg?
DeutschlandRadio, 7 October 2011
Listen to an audio of an hour-long discussion, with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, former NATO commander Egon Ramms, Spiegel magazine correspondent Christoph Reuter – also an AAN author – and Matin Baraki, from Marburg University

‘Das Engagement in Afghanistan ist (weitgehend) gescheitert’ (not online)
Stuttgarter Zeitung, 6 October 2011
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig draws a negative balance about the West’s Afghanistan intervention over the past 10 years in this interview (in German), mainly caused by the too heavy focus on the military aspects of the problem.

Verhandeln – aber mit wem? (Negotiate – but with whom?)
Deutsche Welle (German), 6 October 2011
In this analysis of where possible political solutions are left after the Rabbani assassination, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted (from an interview given some months ago) on obstacles: ‘the many faultlines, scars and traumas of the civil war’, ‘the deep mistrust’ amongst Afghans ‘already vis-a-vis neighbours.’ Therefore, he continues, ‘there is no consensus in Afghan society about a negotiated solution with the insurgents. This consensus needs to be created first with all political and social forces that are playing a role in today’s Afghanistan. Only then, they can jointly enter into talks with the Taliban.’

Der lange Marsch
Tagesspiegel (Berlin), 6 October 2011
In another balance of the West’s ten years of intervention in Afghanistan, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says that the West ‘faces failure’. The West has concentrated to much on the military part’ of the mission and has neglected ‘building of a functioning state’ by putting the destiny of the country into the hands ‘of corrupt politicians and warlords’ some of whom actually ‘belonged to The Hague’. Further, ‘all the billions of aid money have not changed the lives of the majority of Afghans, but deepened the social gap between a small and rich upper class and the rest of the Afghan population to an extent that has never existed before in the history of the country’. The re-building of infrastructure has not made it beyond its initial steps. There is some progress in education and the health sector but it is undermined by the escalation of war’. Ruttig also speaks against dropping talks with the Taleban and talking to Pakistan, instead, and proposes to ‘talk to both of them’. (in German).

Afghanistan torn between internal and foreign interests
Deutsche Welle (English), 6 October 2011
A different version of the German text of the same day, with a lot of quotes from AAN’s Thomas Ruttig and others.

India, Pakistan, and the US: Can anyone bring peace to Afghanistan?
Christian Science Monitor, 6 October 2011
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert: “The conclusion at the moment, also among Afghans, is that the Afghans can’t sort it out amongst themselves. But nothing is ever final, so things can turn around again. Even so, most Afghans didn’t believe in this Afghan-led process to start with. They believed that, at the least, you needed an outside mediator,”

Theo tuurt (blog), 6 October 2011
In this overview of 10 years engagement in Afghanistan, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted on less is more: ‘Er zijn minder maar beter gerichte initiatieven nodig, een kleinere maar beter geïnformeerde groep actoren, en projecten die minder kosten en arbeidsintensiever zijn. We zouden onze ambities gevoelig naar beneden moeten bijstellen zonder op een cynische manier de basiswaarden in de uitverkoop te zetten.’

India’s Strategic Calculus in Afghanistan
Foreign Policy (AfPak Channel), 6 October
Article quotes from AAN blog by Martine van Bijlert that many Afghans are furious that their “government has remained far too silent for their liking on the recently restarted shelling of Afghan territory by Pakistani border forces.” The killing of Rabbani — a Tajik warlord who had been an integral part of the former Northern Alliance — seemed to vindicate their uncompromising stance toward Pakistan.

‘Nach uns die Sintflut!’ (Devil-May-Care)
Deutsche Welle (German), 5 October 2011
Another part of the station’s Afghanistan packet for the 10th anniversary of the start of the Western intervention in Afghanistan, an extensive interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German).

Afghanistan on brink after decade of war
AFP, 2 October 2011
“The fear that many people have here is that if the politics aren’t dealt with, what we will see is when the international forces pull out, there will be a proper civil war,” said Kate Clark from the Afghanistan Analysts Network. And: “If you look at where and how the insurgency has grown and has been supported, there’s been a reaction to a very, very predatory Afghan state.”


Pakistan Press US Taliban Government