Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

AAN In The Media – September 2010

18 min

Afghanistan opium crop blight sends drug prices soaring
Christian Science Monitor, 30 Sept. 2010
In article on Afghanistan’s expected decline of the poppy harvest, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted on the expected impact it might have on the Taleban: ‘The poppy income is not the single, major income or revenue source for the Taliban. It’s different from region to region, but I think it does not hit them particularly hard if the crop goes down’ and adds that for years, the Taleban had depended on diverse revenue streams that include informal taxation and protection rackets and that those sources are probably more important to the organization than opium.

Karzai Names Peace Panel for Taliban Negotiations
New York Times, 28 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert, a director of the independent Afghan Analysts Network, said: “He is not interested in substantial talks. His position towards the Taliban is, ‘You can join me, you can surrender to our side.’ This means there is little appetite to listen to and address some of the real grievances. At the same time there is a real danger that the process will just be a gathering of yet more commanders.”

Afghan election descends into war of numbers
AFP, 26 September 2010
More on the figures: The IEC’s turnout figure had discounted thousands of people who were unable to vote because Taliban threats kept more than 1,000 polling centres shut, said Martine van Bijlert, of the Afghanistan Analysts’ Network think tank. Referring to an IEC statement that 4.3 million people voted, she said: “Even the actual numbers don’t represent a turnout figure. They just tell us how many ballots have been used, they don’t tell us how many people went out to vote.”

Are lawmakers or lawbreakers winners of Afghan poll?
Reuters, 24 September 2010
In another analysis of the outgoing Afghan parliament’s role, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert states that ‘[t]he parliament has, in its own sort of random way, been a body that hasn’t been fully controlled, and sometimes that’s meant it’s a check and sometimes it has complicated things. […] expect that to continue, because Afghan politics are so complicated and negotiations are constantly ongoing’.

Polling for chaos
World Magazine, 9 October 2010 issue
“The votes have been counted at the polling center level, but not yet aggregated, and many counts will change as stations are investigated and quarantined,” Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, told me two days after the elections. With more quotes from the pre-election report and the turnout-blog.

Afghanistan Today: Karzai, Reconciliation, and Western Strategy
New America Foundation, September/October 2010
Excerpts – largely accurate – from a talk, including: When the international community declared its support for the Afghan government during the reconciliation process, she said, “we put ourselves in a straightjacket.” According to Bijlert, an “independent international presence” could have taken on a larger role as a broker in the peace process. As it stands, she said, “the population who suffers from the insurgency, possibly even the fighters” will not be included in the reconciliation

Recordaantal gesneuvelden in Afghanistan
Algemeen Dagblad (NL), 22 September 2010
In this article about Coalition deaths, Martine van Bijlert is quoted on election turnout figures (noemde het opkomstcijfer misleidend, omdat het niet gebaseerd op is op het totale aantal mensen dat had kunnen stemmen. Oorspronkelijk waren zo’n 12 miljoen Afghanen stemgerechtigd).

Afghanistan election investigators face threats, bribes
Christian Science Monitor, 22 Sept. 2010
Martine van Bijlert on the job of the provincial electoral complaints commissions (PECCs): “They are going to be under a lot of pressure. They will be more or less on their own for it,” These provincial arbiters sit at “a level where you can dismiss complaints that shouldn’t be, or decide whether to receive complaints.”

Afghan election panel reports new evidence of serious fraud 
McClatchy, 21 September 2010
“The only explanation for these high percentages is that these fake voter registration cards have been used en masse and have been recognized by the IEC staff,” said Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “This places the credibility and seriousness of the electoral institutions in question.”

Are Afghanistan elections hurting democracy?
Christian Science Monitor, 21 September 2010
Article quotes Anthone Cordesman (“Democracy is not a religion, and elections are not a religious festival”), but also AAN’s Martine van Bijlert – on voter turnout

4,3 milljónir greiddu atkvæði
MBL, 21 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert, hjá hugveitunni Afghanistan Analysts Network, hefur hins vegar gagnrýnt útreikninga kjörstjórnarinnar. Útreikningurinn sé blekkjandi því hann byggi ekki á heildarfjölda kjósenda. Yfirkjörstjórnin segist upphaflega hafa gert ráð fyrir að kjósendur væru 12 milljónir sem dreifðust á 6.835 kjörstaði. Miðað við þann fjölda var kjörsóknin öllu minni, eða 36%.

Afghanistan: elezioni alla chetichella
Medarab news, 21 September 2010
Anche l’affluenza alle urne si è mantenuta molto bassa. Il dato del 40% che è stato ampiamente diffuso andrebbe preso “con le pinze”, dal momento che nessuno ha modo di sapere il numero reale degli aventi diritto. Come si domanda Martine van Bijlert, dell’Afghanistan Analysts Network, anche noi ci chiediamo: 40% di cosa? Tutto quello che si sa è che la tendenza complessiva è stata al ribasso.

Intimidation claims cast shadow over Afghan polls
AFP, 21 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert about the election turnut figure: “It’s 40 percent of people who could have voted in the polling stations that were open, so it is not 40 percent of all eligible voters,” said Martine van Bijlert, senior analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network think tank. “It’s good to use a figure that is solid, but it is deceptive because it sounds higher than it is,”

Wahlnachlese: Wie erfolgreich war die Abstimmung?
Bayrischer Rundfunk, 20 September 2010
Interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig on the Afghan parliamentary election day (in German, no link)

Afghan warlords hedge bets, contest elections
Associated Press, 20 September 2010
AAN analyst Kate Clark on Hezb-e Islami: “There’s always the question of how and whether the legal and insurgent wings have links, and then there is the Afghan assertion always that there is no such thing as an ex-Hezb-i-Islami — once in, you are ideologically changed for life.”

Afghanistan hat gewählt
Radio Eins (Potsdam), 20 September 2010
Listen to a live interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig from Gardez about the Afghan election day (in mp3 format).

Voting in Afghanistan: Low Bar
The Economist, 20 September 2010
Economist repeats Martine van Bijlert’s question on voter turnout: 40% of what?

Fraud complaints haunt Afghan vote
AFP, 20 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert about candidate complaints: “At this stage, you get a lot of noise because people are talking about it, and quite a few will go to the trouble (of lodging complaints),” and voter turnout: Van Bijlert described the IEC’s turnout figures as “deceptive.” “It is 40 percent of people who could have voted in the polling centers that were open,”

Violence, fraud mar Afghan election
The Australian, 20 September 2010
Martine Van Bijlert, from the Afghan Analysts Network, said it was too early to determine whether the vote could be considered legitimate. “The nature of the election and how it’s remembered will be largely determined in coming weeks.”

Parlamentswahl in Afghanistan: Gewalt und Wahlbetrug überschatten Urnengang
ARD Tagesschau, 20 September 2010
The German TV prime time news show interviews AAN’s Thomas Ruttig: ‘The scope of fraud can not be finally judged. Im Southeastern Afghanistan, multiple voting was observed. There are first hints that thousands of fake voter cards were used. After election day, during the counting and tallying process, further manipulations are possible. The turn-out figure of 40 per cent given by the IEC is too optimistic (with audio, in Grman)

Männer stimmen für ihre Frauen ab
tageszeitung (Berlin), 20 September 2010
Thomas Ruttig reports about the elections in Paktia, the only woman’s vote in Tera school, men voting for women, fake voter cards, the election boycott in Ahmadkhel district and says why this shoul urge Wesrern governments to press for electoral reform finally.

Agitação mina esperança de eleições justas no Afeganistão
20 September 2010
“Há uma boa chance de que a maioria dos assentos seja tomada por pessoas que cometeram fraudes”, disse Martine van Bijlert, observadora de longa data do Afeganistão e co-diretora da Afghanistan Analysts Network, baseada em Cabul.

Internationales Lob für Afghanistan-Wahl 
Deutsche Welle, 19 September 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here with caution about the IEC turnout figure of 40 per cent (in German).

Unregelmaessigkeiten in Afghanistan
n-tv, 19 September 2010
The German TV channel quotes a new dpa interview with AAn’s Thomas Ruttig saying that the IEC turnout figure of 40 per cent seems to be ‘too optimistic’ and that neither the turnout nor the scope of electoral fraud can be judged yet.

Afghanistan’s bloody ballot boxes
The Herald (Scotland), 19 September 2010
Article quotes Kate Clark’s blog: “In an election without parties, where the ideology of the two-and-a-half thousand candidates is largely unofficial or confused, it is difficult to assess who is up and who is down in Afghan politics, but one clear trend is the high number of candidates who are the relatives of those already in power.”

The Election Is Over, Come Together – But How?
France24, 19 September 2010
Article on post-election blues quotes Martine van Bijlert: Women’s rights advocates, said van Bijlert, were “looking at all the signs: international troops are looking to leave, the moves toward talking with the Taliban. There’s a fear that some of the achievements, some of the spaces that have opened up for women will close.”

Afghan election watchdog amasses evidence of fraud 
McClatchy Newspapers, 19 September 2010
In this report, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted with his explanation of Western voices again prematurely praising an Afghan election – The U.S. and its NATO allies appeared to be anxious to show progress in Afghanistan. ‘I find that a little bit optimistic and driven by the domestic agenda and not by the reality in Afghanistan.’

Day After Afghan Vote, Complaints of Fraud and Irregularities Begin to Surface
New York Times, 19 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert on ways to try to tip the balance: “You can manipulate how the complaint process goes as well as the voting,” she said. “What you see, for instance, is candidates sending in reports of other candidates doing fraud because disqualifying the votes from a couple of polling centers or qualifying them can make the difference.”

Fraud and turnout weigh on “miracle” Afghan poll
Reuters, 19 September 2010
Article quotes Martine van Bijlert on the turnout: “The declining trend signifies several things, most prominently a growing disillusionment and disengagement with the process, and the impact of a worsening security situation.”

Election watchdog cries fraud
The Sun, 19 September 2010
The U.S. and its NATO allies appeared to be anxious to show progress in Afghanistan in the face of growing opposition among Americans to the increasingly costly war, said Thomas Ruttig of the independent Afghanistan Analysts Network. President Barack Obama plans to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan next July. “I find that a little bit optimistic and driven by the domestic agenda and not by the reality in Afghanistan,” Ruttig said. “I think the institutions in Afghanistan generally are too weak and I don’t see a step forward in democratization.”

Apathy and Fraud Make Afghan Election A “Powerful Message” For “Strengthening Democracy”
Newshoggers (blog), 19 September 2010
Overview of polling day refers to Martine van Bijlert’s blog on voter turnout, quoting the declining turnout figures over the past elections.

Fraud, turnout weigh on early Afghan vote count
Reuters, 19 September 2010
It was almost impossible to express the number of votes cast as a turnout percentage because “nobody knows how many voters there are in Afghanistan, mainly because nobody knows how many people live in Afghanistan,” van Bijlert said.

Afghanen flüchten vor der Demokratie
Financial Times Deutschland, 19 September 2010
Thomas Ruttig, Direktor des Afghan Analyst Network (AAN) rechnete am Sonntag mit einer Beteiligung von deutlich unter 40 Prozent. Die meisten Afghanen hätten wegen der befürchteten Fälschungen nur wenig Interesse gezeigt.

Uncertainty ahead in Afghanistan 
al-Jazeera, 19 September 2010
The TV channel’s website quotes from Thomas Ruttig’s Gardez blog that ‘this year, [election day] started in an even more negative atmosphere. Everyone – [the] UN as well as Afghans – warned that massive attacks might happen in Gardez organised by the Haqqani network, and [that] it would be better not to watch any polling centre at all.’ Unfortunately, it does not mention that he added that the day turned out to be much more peaceful than expected.

Afghanistan election: fraud could delay result for months, observers warn
The Guardian, 19 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert, from the Afghanistan Analysts Network, said a delay in the final outcome would in large part depend on how many of those oral complaints were turned into written objections which the ECC would then be obliged to investigate.

Afghans lose faith as fraud claims hit poll
Financial Times, 19 September 2010
Thomas Ruttig says a big drop in the number of international observers involved in the parliamentary elections, compared with the presidential polls, reflects a broader process of disengagement. “The west is mentally on its way out of Afghanistan already – a year before the first US troops are supposed to leave,” he said. “Saturday’s parliamentary elections are its farewell performance, and it has decided to play a role in the wings only.”

Denktank Afghanistan kijkt terug op verkiezingen (Think tank reviews elections)
NOS radio (audio), 19 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert talks about election day – in Dutch.

Iedereen kan zege claimen (Everyone can claim victory)
De Standaard (Belgium), 19 September 2010
‘Er is zeker fraude gepleegd, in het hele land’, aldus Martine Van Bijlert, die opmerkt dat dit geen verrassing is gezien de omstandigheden waarin de verkiezingen georganiseerd moesten worden. ‘We wisten dat kandidaten voorbereidingen troffen, er zijn machtige figuren die willen dat hun vertegenwoordigers verkozen worden, en er zijn verkiezingsmedewerkers die hun diensten aanbieden voor geld. De vraag zal zijn hoe wijdverbreid die fraude was, en vooral wat er gebeurt met eventuele klachten die worden ingediend. Het zal weken duren voor we dat kunnen zeggen.’

”Valet är dömt att misslyckas”
SvD, 18 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert, ansvarig på den oberoende analysgruppen AAN (Afghanistan Analysts Network), har i en 40-sidig rapport sammanfattat förutsättningarna inför parlamentsvalet så här: ” Alla indikationer pekar på att det blir rörigt, starkt ifrågasatt och manipulerat på alla nivåer”.

Afghanistan election day: spotty turnout, fake voter cards, and some feisty voters
Christian Science Monitor, 18 Sept. 2010
In an attempt to get a first grip on voter turnout in the country which includes reports from Kabul, Wardak and Kandahar, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted about the situation Gardez: the security situation was calm but turnout was ‘quite low; most [voters] were not very hopeful about the meaning of the election. There was so much talk about fraud, and in Gardez, fake voter cards were sold in the bazaar in bundles.’

Afghans vote despite attacks, turnout appears low
Associated Press, 18 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert at the end of Afghanistan’s election day: “It’s not over yet. This is the time — when the counting is going on — where you start moving around ballot papers, where you start kicking out the observers when you’re counting.”

‘Freie Wahlen sind falsche Maßstäbe für Afghanistan’
MDR (German TV), 18 September 2010
Listen to a telephone interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig discussing whether ‘free and fair’ elections can be achieved in Afghanistan.

Afghans lose faith as fraud claims hit poll
Financial Times, 18 September
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig says the big drop in the number of international observers involved in the parliamentary elections, compared with the presidential polls, reflects a broader process of disengagement. ‘The west is mentally on its way out of Afghanistan already – a year before the first US troops are supposed to leave,” he said. “Saturday’s parliamentary elections are its farewell performance, and it has decided to play a role in the wings only.’

Afghan vote a foregone conclusion
Asia Times online, 18 September 2010
Still more quotes from Martine van Bijlert’s AAN report ‘Who controls the vote?” but also of latest AREU publications on the parliament and the elections by Anna Larsen and Noah Coburn, in a report by Aunohita Mojumdar.

In Afghanistan election, a key test for fighting corruption
Christian Science Monitor, 18 Sept. 2010
This report quotes AAN’s Martine van Bijlert about the legitimacy of today’s election: ‘I think the vote itself is not going to be very clean […].What you lose every time is, you lose [not just] the credibility of the vote but also those who are elected by the vote, those who count the vote, those who back it’.

Eleição afegã tem recorde de candidatas (Afghan elections have record number of female candidates)
Folha (Brasil), 18 September 2010
Article quotes Martine van Bijlert as saying: “Algumas ameaças vêm do Taleban, outras de comandantes conservadores locais e clérigos e outras ainda de partidários de rivais.”

Após fraudes, sobram dúvidas sobre o pleito (After frauds [in 2009], there are doubts about process)
Folha (Brasil), 18 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert on the upcoming elections: “Há uma combinação de desengajamento e cinismo, onde muita gente não acredita que seu voto conta, e, por outro lado, uma participação ativa em negociações que envolvem uma eleição. (…) O que tornou a eleição do ano passado uma bagunça foi que os procedimentos não foram propriamente implementados ou comunicados, e votos obviamente fraudados foram contados. (…) Se a Comissão Eleitoral Independente lidar com as fraudes de maneira mais consistente e transparente -e há indicações de que irá- o pleito [de hoje] pode ser diferente.”

Game of double bluff that leaves millions in the cold
The Age, 18 September 2010
More quotes of Martine van Bijlert’s AAN report ‘Who controls the vote?’

Afghans vote for new parliament despite militant attacks but turnout appears low, 18 September 2010
“It’s not over yet,” said Martine van Bijlert, codirector of the Afghanistan Analysts Network think tank in Kabul. “This is the time — when the counting is going on — where you start moving around ballot papers, where you start kicking out the observers when you’re counting.”

Gana el presidente, pierde la democracia
El Mundo, 17 September 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig describes the insufficient legal and political framework of the Afghan parliamentary elections and holds the international community responsible for failing to urge electoral reform before (in Spanish, no internet link).

Once More with Feeling
Newsweek, 17 September 2010
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted here with her prediction of what will happen in tomorrow’s election:“There will be some real voting, and there will be candidates who win based on their good reputation and the local support they have, But it will not take away the impression among voters that the elections have become a competition among those who can best hijack the process.” Also, her latest AAN report is quoted.

Chaotisch, umkämpft und manipuliert
tageszeitung (Berlin), 17 September 2010
In an extensive article, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig reports about the election campaign in Kabul and about the judicia and political framework in which tomorrow’s poll will take place.

Sag zum Abschied leise: Wählen!
Die Zeit (Hamburg), 17 September 2010
Thomas Ruttig’s analysis of the Afghan parliamentary elections in the light of the Western transfer and withdrawal strategy (in German).

Afghanistan vor der Parlamentswahl
NDR (German radio), 17 September 2010
Long interview with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig (in German) in the ‘Streitkraefte und Strategien’ (‘Armed Forces and Strategies’) programme about the upcoming Afghan elections and the general situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan sucht das Super-Parlament
tageszeitung (Berlin), 17 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert’s AAN report is quoted in this report about the pre-election situation in Logar here: ‘There is no reason to believe that there will be less fraud’ this year.

Going into Afghan Elections, Mounting Debate at Home
National Security Network, 17 September 2010
Quoting Thomas Ruttig’s blog on the political parties and Martine van Bijlert on voter desillusionment – that despite the recent electoral reforms, many Afghans are still deeply skeptical about the political process, which is still seen as rife with fraud. Many Afghans are “now obsessed with the fake voter cards from Pakistan, but who also have detailed stories of schemes and deals and money payments – in the last election, as well as the current one,” and “it would be foolish to forget, yet again, that procedures and measures only work if they are implemented.”

Pessimisme over Afghaanse verkiezingen
Reformatorisch Dagblad (NL), 17 September 2010
Article quotes Martine van Bijlert’s pre-election report ‘Who Controls the Vote?’and Thomas Ruttig’s blog on political parties.

Afghan Parliament Still Finding Its Voice in the Midst of an Insurgency
Voice of America, 17 September 2010
Former EU Special Rep and head of the AAN Advisory Board Francesc Vendrell suspects that President Karzai ‘would like to get a more pliant parliament than he has now’. And he defends the current Wolesi Jirga: ‘I think it was far from being a perfect parliament, and a lot of money was being exchanged to buy votes by one faction or another one. But, it was the beginnings. And I still think that they deserve support.’

Hazardous for foreigners, catastrophic for locals
Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 2010
Article quotes extensively from AAN’s latest report, including “Many of them, having learnt from the 2009 controversies and audits, will try to ensure that the fraud is less easily detectable … It will not fundamentally change the way many voters view the elections – as a competition between strongmen and manipulators.”

Local residents remain disengaged or fearful as Afghan election nears
Stars and Stripes, 17 September 2010
Article on (non)elections in Shinkai, Zabul, quotes AAN’s latest report.

Demokratie im Rückwärtsgang: Die Wahlen in Afghanistan drohen zur Farce zu werden
Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 16 September 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig look ahead at the upcoming Afghan parliamentary elections (in German, no online access).

Another election, another cycle of fraud and violence?
France24, 16 September 2010
Article quotes Martine van Bijlert on international observers (“oscillating between an optimistic hope that improved anti-fraud measures will result in a much cleaner election, and a cynical acceptance that an Afghan election will by nature be messy”) and the importance of the upcoming elections (Afghan population is really looking for an end to the rampant corruption and impunity … parliament provides access to government … important that it is a body that they can put their confidence in”).

Parlamentswahlen in Afghanistan
DRS (Swiss Radio), 16 September 2010
Listen to AAN’s Thomas Ruttig looking ahead at Afghanistan’s parliamentary election (audio in German).

A Messy Vote: Fraud in Afghanistan
Al Jazeera, 16 September 2010
Overview of what Saturday’s vote may look like, quoting among others AAN’s Martine van Bijlert.

Hamid Karzai’s brother uses Afghan poll to boost influence in Kandahar
Guardian, 17 September 2010
In his report from Kandahar, Jon Boone quotes AAN’s latest report: ‘The president’s entourage has been mobilising influential powerbrokers and government officials in an attempt to arrive at a more pliable parliament.’

Wahl in Afghanistan: „Chaotisch, umkämpft, manipuliert“
Die Presse (Vienna), 16 September 2010
The newspaper quotes both Martine van Bijlert’s latest AAN report ‘Who controls the votes?’ and Thomas Ruttig’s expansive article in weekly ‘Die Zeit’ on the elections

More on ASG (Afghanistan Study Group)
National Security Network, 15 September 2010
Michael Cohen points out that the ASG had only four women among its 46 signatories and wonders why the group did not reach out to prominent female security experts, including AAN’s Martine van Bijlert and Joanna Nathan.

Der er ingen grund til at tro, at der vil blive mindre svindel
Roskilde University, 15 September 2010
Det uafhængige Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) bakker Schmidts kritik op, og netværkets direktør Martine van Bijlert slår fast, at der ingen grund er til at tro, at der vil blive mindre korruption i Afghanistan.

Verkiezingen Weer een Puinhoop (Elections a Big Mess Again)
De Pers (NL daily), 14 September 2010
Artile quotes Martine van Bijlert, and her latest report, on the upcoming elections.

Afghanistans embryonale Demokratie unterliegt
Neues Deutschland (Berlin), 14 September 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig looks ahead at Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections that are characterised by an ‘insufficient legal and political framework’. The West, he says, did not do its homework and neglected to push for electoral reform early on (in German).

Afghan election at risk: watchdog 
The Australian, 13 September 2010
Article describes how AAN’s election report warns of a repeat of the ballot-stuffing, tally fraud and vote manipulation that skewed last year’s election and quotes “network spokeswoman” Martine Van Bijlert (“There is no reason to believe there will be less fraud this time”).

Afghanistan-Wahl: ‘Chaotisch, umkämpft, manipuliert’ (Afghanistan’s Election: Messy, contested, manipulated)
dpa, 13 September 2010
The leading German news agency quotes extensively from AAN’s Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig’s latest election-related papers in its ‘Afghanistan Election package’ (in German, only via news ticker).

[‘New’ Findings with Regard to Fraud in Last Year’s Election]
BBC Persian Service (online), 13 September 2010
A detailed article on BBC’s Persian Service on the findings of AAN’s pre-election report describes the release of tens of thousands of votes back into the count in Kandahar, Ghazni and Paktika and quotes AAN on how transparency on what happened during past elections should help push back fraud in the upcoming one.

[New Report Concerning Past Electoral Fraud]
13 September 2010, (Dari website)
Several local websites pick up on the BBC Persian Service article, singling out the fact that AAN’s research shows that fraud not only took place on election day, but also afterwards, and quotes Martine van Bijlert that the findings should be used to stop fraud in this years election.

Taliban increasingly eyeing its role in politics
Washington Post, 13 September 2010
AAN’s Martine van Bijlert is quoted with doubts about assumptions of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura that there is ‘evidence that the Taliban’s leadership is interested in playing a formal role in the political system at this point in time’. She adds that they have come out very strongly against the 2010 elections – and could have been more ambiguous about them.

Onderzoek naar fraude verkiezingen in Afghanistan (audio link)
NOS radio, 13 September 2010
Afghanistan gaat komend weekend naar de stembus om een nieuw parlement te kiezen. Maar of het allemaal eerlijk zal verlopen, dat is de vraag. Bij de presidents- en provinciale verkiezingen van vorig jaar werd er namelijk op grote schaal gefraudeerd. Het onafhankelijke onderzoeksinstituut Afghanistan Analysts Network onderzocht de fraude bij die voorgaande verkiezingen en publiceerde afgelopen weekend de bevindingen. De Nederlandse Martine van Bijlert, die het onderzoek deed, is nu in Afghanistan.

Onderzoek naar fraude verkiezingen in Afghanistan (audio link)
NOS radio, 13 September 2010
Martine van Bijlert – in Dutch – on AAN’s pre-election report and what it tells us about how the Parliamentary elections will go.

Poll violence, fraud could fuel anger against Karzai, U.S. 
12 September 2010, McClatchy
A study of the 2009 presidential election released Saturday by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a respected think tank, warned that “fraud is likely to again be blatant, unsophisticated and widespread” in many parliamentary contests and that the electoral procedures were “highly likely” to collapse again.

A Better ASG
Abu Muqawama (blogpost), 12 September 2010
Blogger Abu Muqawama argues, like others have, that the Afghanistan Study Group report disappoints partly because it lacked input by noted military specialists and experts on Afghanistan. He lists the people he would have involved, which include AAN’s Thomas Ruttig and Joanna Nathan, with Martine van Bijlert as external reviewer.

Fears of renewed violence in run-up to Afghan elections
Independent on Sunday, 12 September 2010
The British newspaper quotes from Martine van Bijlert’s AAN report on mechanisms of vote rigging in the 2009 provincial council elections and her conclusion that ‘there is no reason to believe there will be less fraud [this year]. Many candidates have concluded that you don’t really stand a chance if you don’t manipulate the process. And their backers know how to do it.’

Vor der Parlamentswahl – düstere Aussichten für Afghanistan? (Afghanistan before the Parliamentary Election: gloomy perspectives?)
NDR radio, 11 September 2010
Listen to the podcast of an interview (in German) with AAN’s Thomas Ruttig discussing the upcoming elections, the ‘surge’ and ‘changed’ strategy of the international community and the relationship between the military and NGOs.

Afghan Parliamentary vote likely to ‘messy’
Circlin the Lion’s Den (blog), 11 September 2010
Blogger points to AAN pre-election report and quotes Martine van Bijlert that it is important for observers to flag up fraud: “It is the silence, or late and muted reactions, of international observers that have often most confused Afghan voters”

Afghans Stage Protests Over Qur’an Burning
CBC News, 10 September 2010
that Afghan security personnel inside the base, which is home to German troops, fired on the protesters

Festive greetings : Mullah Omar releases a not-so-rare Eid message
France 24, 9 September 2010
The French TV station’s Leela Jacinto analyses Mulla Omar’s ‘not-so-rare’ statements. She quots AAN’s Thomas Ruttig: “There have been statements from the Taliban leadership commenting on the (Jan. 2010) London Afghanistan Conference, on a UN report on civilian casualties, statements are regularly released for Eid festivals and a lot of other occasions. The Taliban’s media output is definitely increasing’ and that ‘there are a lot of young people in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are educated and well versed with technology’ that can help them doing this.

Obama: Koran-Verbrennung hilft Al-Kaida (Obama: Quran Burning Helps al-Qaida)
Hamburger Morgenpost, 9 September 2010
AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted here: The planned burning of the Quran ‘will definitely help the Taleban propaganda; ‘should it really happen, Islamist circles will use that as an argument against the whole international engagement in Afghanistan’. It will help them to present the conflict in Afghanistan ‘as a struggle between Islam and Christianity” and to this ‘fringe group as representing all “Christian unbelievers”.’

Why Are So Many Politicians Running in Kabul?
Time magazine, 7 September 2010
AAN’s junior researcher Fabrizio Foschini calls it a symptom of the ‘government losing control around the countryside’, part of the further deteriorating security situation.

Die unbekannten Toten (The Unknown Dead)
Tagesspiegel (Berlin), 5 September 2010
This article points to the fact that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have only been systematically registered since 2007 and that the security situation also has made the work of NGOs more difficult. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig is quoted as saying that more and more Afghans in the provinces do not want to be seen with any foreigner.

Afghanistan, de stand van zaken (audio)
Radio 1 (Netherlands), 2 September 2010
De Nederlandse troepen zijn weg en over ruim 2 weken wordt een nieuw parlement gekozen. Maar in Afghanistan is het nog alles behalve rustig. Geweld tegen parlementskandidaten neemt toe in aanloop naar de Afghaanse verkiezingen. In de Villa een gesprek over Afghanistan, de verkiezingen en de rol van de buitenlandse troepen in het land, met Martine van Bijlert. Zij is co-directeur en mede-oprichter van het Afghanistan Analysts Network, een onafhankelijk onderzoeksbureau dat in Afghanistan zélf de politiek bestudeert.

Unter Feuer: Entwicklungszusammenarbeit in Afghanistan (Under Fire: Development Cooperation in Afghanistan)
INKOTA-Brief (Berlin), September 2010
In this commentary for the Berlin-bases developmental magazine, AAN’s Thomas Ruttig criticised the new German government’s policy to force German NGOs to cooperate with the military – or otherwise not to be funded. (In German, commentary not available online – only by ordering the magazine.)


Government Pakistan Press Taliban US