Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – October 2012

7 min

Kremlin’s Blunder Backfires in Central Asia
Turkish Weekly, 31 October 2012
Author Ryskeldi Satke looks at latest developments in Russia’s Central Asia policy after Putin’s re-election. Amon others, he quotes a blog by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig underscoring comments made by the Tajik opposition figures according to whom the threat of the Taliban marching over the borders to Central Asia is exaggerated.

Taliban Hits Region Seen as ‘Safest’ for Afghans
New York Times, 30 October 2012
Graham Bowley, reporting from Bamian, writes that a series of insurgent strikes in recent months ‘has intimidated residents and ‘has added to the sense that nowhere in Afghanistan can be considered safe’. He quotes AAN’s Thomas Ruttig as saying that this development ‘is another step forward’ in the Taleban’s general expansion northward and that ‘ISAF claiming security improvement is a narrative that is not always covered by reality.’

‘Den Menschen zutrauen, dass sie Demokratie wollen’
Bayerische Staatszeitung, 27 October 2012
A report (in German) about a podium discussion in the Bavarian state parliament in Munich, including German Foreign Office’s Philipp Ackermann, Spiegel magazine’s Susanne Koelbl and AAN’s Thomas Ruttig. The author appreciated Ruttig’s ‘differentiated and clear assessment of complex developments’ as ‘what think tanks at their best can deliver’ and that he challenged .views of Afghanistan ‘through Western glasses’, demanding to ‘rely on Afghans’ wish for more democratic environment’.

Die Kraft der Frauen
tageszeitung (Berlin), 27 October 2012
Monika Hauser, head of the German NGO medica mondiale who has been awarded the ‘alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2008, criticises a shift of German policy as wrong that proposes to replace the promotion and protection of human rights, but instead wants to rely stronger ‘on local traditions and power structures’ in ‘fragile states’ like Afghanistan. The article is a follow-up on an article on the same subject by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig in this Berlin-based daily.

Blutiger Feiertag: Anschlag in Afghanistan
tageszeitung (Berlin), 27 October 2012
The report about the suicide attack in a Faryab mosque of the Berlin daily’s correspondent in Dubai uses information from Obaid Ali’s AAN blog from the northern province, about previous killings in Maimana, unfortunately without giving the source.

Predicting Gloom In Afghanistan An Inexact Science
RFE/RL (blog), 26 October 2012
On this analysis of Western analyses about Afghanistan, the head of AAN’s Advisory Board, Francesc Vendrell is quoted: ‘Francesc Vendrell, a former EU and UN representative in Afghanistan, is widely respected among Afghans for understanding the complexities of their country. In a recent interview, he told me that no one can destroy some of the things built during the past 12 years, including a better health-care and education system and phenomenal growth in the urban population.

A Ray of Hope — Afghan Special Operations Forces
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 26 October 2012
Read AAN Guest Blogger Gary Owen’s commentary on the Afghan special forces: ‘Like every segment of the security forces here, Afghan SOF faces an uncertain future, a future made even murkier by the recent establishment of the Special Operations Joint Task Force — Afghanistan (SOJTF-A), which brings all special-operations activities in Afghanistan under one Western command. But on the whole, Afghan SOF has proved to be more capable than the majority of other Afghan forces, which is cause for some optimism for the future of the country’s military services.’

Prospects For Afghan Peace Deal With Taliban Dim, But Not Dead
RFE/RL, 25 October 2012
Francesc Vendrell, former representative for the EU and UN in Afghanistan, notes that a third party could play a major role in a peace deal being struck between the Taliban and the Afghan government. But the United States, which had assumed the role, will be challenged by Kabul’s insistence on leading the peace process and also by the influence of regional powers such as Iran and Pakistan. “Without the assistance of a facilitator or mediator, its hard to see [this process taking shape] — it might take longer. Or, you would need a very active [direct] negotiations process,” Vendrell says.

Afghan president warns on immunity for foreign troops
AFP, 19 October 2012
In a report about the US-Afghan controversy of immunity for US soldiers based in Afghanistan post-2014, AAN’s Kate Clark is quoted as saying: ‘I think it is unimaginable that the Americans would compromise on this and allow their people to be put through Afghan courts if they are accused of crimes’.

Profifußball in Afghanistan: Die Suche nach den Edelkickern
tageszeitung (Berlin), 19 October 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig reported on the eveof the final of Afghanistan’s first professional football league and about the development of Afghan soccer in general (in German).

Van Bijlert: Streven in Kunduz niet realistisch
BNR Nieuwsradio (Netherlands), 18 October 2012
Article paraphrases brief radio interview with AAN’s Martine van Bijlert on the Dutch police traning mission in Kunduz and the special agreements with the Ministry of Interior that are hard to keep (with audio link to the original interview).

Rückzug vom Hindukusch
SWR (German radio), 16 October 2012
Listen to a 45-min audio of a radio round table (in German), discussing whether ‘Afghanistan will become the West’s Waterloo’ – with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, German journalist Ashwin Raman and German MP Elke Hoff.

Afghan students protest against renaming of university
Deutsche Welle (English), 15 October 2012
The German radio broadcasting for abroad reports the latest controversy about the name change from ‘Education’ to ‘Rabbani University’ and quotes AAN’s Kate Clark saying it was ‘interesting that the students have tried to avoid all this ethnic poison. And to try and say: “Look, this is an education facility it’s an academic institution. We respect Professor Rabbani, we respect his memory but we want to be neutral.” They actually tried to handle this in a very politically mature manner.’

X-Factor Football: Afghanistan’s New Football Premier League
Moby Media Update, 14 October 2012
The Afghan media monitor reprints Thomas Ruttig’s AAN blog about the new Afghan Premier League in football.

Das Rezept für einen neuen Bürgerkrieg
Neues Deutschland (Berlin), 12 Oktober 2012
Article by AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German, subscribers only), about the end of the US military surge, its results and the growing number of militias in Afghanistan, which he calls ingredients for a ‘recipe for a new civil war’.

Attack on Pakistani schoolgirl nothing new in Taliban’s war against the state 
The Toronto Star, 12 October 2012
In neighbouring Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban may be retreating from their extreme position on girls’ education because of a backlash from the rural population, said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network. In 2009, the government was forced to shut down 800 schools in towns and villages hardest hit by the insurgency. “The position on the Taliban side now is not to attack,” he said. “They’ve closed down schools but re-opened them. This is clever from their point of view because they want to control these areas and see themselves as a parallel government. So they need to respond to the population’s demands and provide services. It’s hearts and minds.” … “The Pakistani Taliban are much more hardline than the Afghan Taliban. They are less rooted in that society so they care less about what the public thinks. They tend to be drawn from uprooted groups and criminals.”

Nato ‘twists truth on Afghan forces’
The Times (London), 10 October 2012
Nato has repeatedly changed the way it assesses the capabilities of the Afghan army to exaggerate local forces’ readiness for handover in 2014. Article (subscribers only) quotes from Gary Owen’s guest blog at AAN, ‘Paint It Pink: The US redefining ANA success’.

Afghanistan im Nebel der Statistik
tageszeitung (Berlin), 11 October 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig discusses how the picture about Afghanistan’s security situation is arrived at, saying that there are ‘different sets of data’ which often contradict each other and that no single one of them is reliable alone.

Die Nato berät: Wie weiter in Afghanistan? (not online)
WDR (German radio), 10 October 2012
AAN’s Thomas Rurtig commenting on the NATO defence ministers debating the post-2014 Afghanistan strategy.

Lichtpuntje in felle strijd (Ray of light in fierce battle)
Spits (Netherlands daily), 10 October 2012
Ook in buurland Afghanistan heeft de aanslag volgens Martine van Bijlert, directeur van het Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul, de mensen boos gemaakt. “Aanslagen op burgers, en met name op kinderen of meisjes, maken veel indruk. Dat het nu opgeëist is en goedgepraat wordt door de Pakistaanse Taliban valt over het algemeen niet goed. De beelden van Malala in de ambulance zijn de hele dag door op het nieuws herhaald. De Pakistaanse Taliban is veel erger dan de Afghaanse dus het is niet helemaal hetzelfde, maar het is wel het soort gebeurtenis waarbij de gezamenlijke verontwaardiging mensen met elkaar verenigt. Eigenlijk wacht iedereen op het moment dat er gezegd wordt ‘nu is het genoeg’, maar er is weinig vertrouwen onderling of in de regering en mensen voelen zich machteloos.”

WWW Wednesday: The sites military experts use, 10 October 2012
Blogger recommends two sites for those who want to learn about Afghanistan beyond the news coverage and the history: Long War Journal and AAN, because they “don’t just tell you what you want to hear.”

Afghan Officials Denounce Western Group’s Report on Country’s Future
New York Times, 10 October 2012
AAN quoted in NYT article on the Afghan government’s reaction to the recent ICG report: Martine Van Bijlert, one of the directors of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a research organization based in Kabul, said: “The reports basically say, ‘You are presiding over a country that cannot take care of itself.’ And beyond that, there is the feeling from some Afghans that, ‘We are just fed up with being told we cannot take care of ourselves and we are not accepting that anymore.’ ”

Obama, Romney: Ignore Afghanistan war at your own peril
CNN, 10 October 2012
In an article discussing Afghans’ views on the US presidential competition (a nice reversal of the usual direction of reporting), AAN’s Gran Hewad is quoted as saying that ordinary Afghans are watching two issues in the candidates’ agendas: ‘Afghans are mostly concerned with the candidates’ stance on Pakistan, and their plans and promises for post-2014 (U.S. troop withdrawal)’.

Kritik an Rückzug der Böll-Stiftung
Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 10 October 2012
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, commenting on the decision of Boell Foundation, to withdraw its head of office, is quoted as saying that the security situation in Kabul was ‘not so dramatic’ to justify such a threat, and has been ‘more dramatic’ some years ago.

Kein gutes Signal
tageszeitung online (Berlin), 9 October 2012
In this op-ed, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig calls the withdrawal of Boell Foundation’s only expat staff member in Kabul from 1 January onwards – for security reasons – ‘not a good sign’. He argues that despite an increasingly unfriendly atmosphere, also fuelled by government anti-foreigner populism, does not amount to acute physical danger. Such a step, taken by a well-known organisaiton, will increase the wide-spread of insecurity among Afghans and take away one layer of protection from Afghan office staff (text in German).

Die Taliban decken ihre Karten noch nicht auf
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Zurich), 6 October 2012
Article in German quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert on the strength of the ANA and the prospects of talks with the Taleban, citing her as an example that not all analysts are convinced that everything will unravel..

Afghanistan – searching for hope 11 years on
Deutsche Welle (English), 5 October 2012
In an analytical article about Afghanistan 11 years after the fall of the Taleban, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that the new Afghan state is not functioning very effectively, nor is it particularly democratic. ‘The warlords have the upper hand and many people feel excluded while the ‘polarized atmosphere leads to many people to choose the Taliban as an option.’


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