Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Martine van Bijlert

Talking about peace talks; a morass of misunderstandings and abstractions

Martine van Bijlert

For a while now I have been feeling uneasy over the direction the debate on ‘talking to the Taleban’ is taking. The more I listen to conversation about reaching some kind of settlement, the more I feel as if I am wading into a morass of misunderstandings and abstractions, with a potentially dangerous level of […]

War and Peace Read more

Stories people tell (2): Bagram prison; not a single good day

Martine van Bijlert

There are so many stories of people who get caught up in the nightly operations by American and Afghan forces. In the search for ‘kill & capture’ targets the net is cast wide: once a door is kicked in all males in a household are usually taken for interrogation. And it is then anyone’s guess […]

Rights and Freedoms Read more

Stories people tell (1): An attempted land grab, a fabricated case and an expensive release

Martine van Bijlert

There is much talk about corruption. How it undermines the government and erodes trust. How it weakens all efforts towards reform. How it makes people’s lives more complicated and miserable than they already are. But it is only when you are confronted with the wearying detail of what people have to go through, just to […]

Political Landscape Read more

‘Zoom In and You’ll See the Faces of Taleban’

Martine van Bijlert

Michael Yon travelled to Uruzgan to see what he could see. He is by his own description on “a long tour of Afghanistan” to discover what is going on in places where international forces have fought and died. Not a bad idea. These places are indeed “(n)ames that mean almost nothing to most people, but […]

War and Peace Read more

Watching the government and waiting for the fighting season

Martine van Bijlert

While the Washington Whispers asks where the news on Afghanistan has gone (it’s not there because it is all good* in case you were wondering), and Parliament suddenly elects a speaker after weeks of intrigue, and the Special Court continues to reopen ballot boxes to see what they might find, and diplomats shake their heads […]

Political Landscape Read more

Untangling Afghanistan’s 2010 Vote: Analysing the electoral data

Martine van Bijlert

This new briefing paper by Martine van Bijlert provides a backdrop to the controversies surrounding the 2010 parliamentary vote. It presents an overview of the main publicly available electoral data and maps what information has been provided, what conclusions can be drawn and what information is still missing – either because it was not shared […]

Special Reports Read more

Handing over Responsibilities in Afghanistan

Martine van Bijlert

International actors in Afghanistan have long been torn between negative trends, bleak assessments, ambitious strategies and ritualistic reports of hopeful developments. Their publics at home are uneasy about the lack of clarity on why their forces are in Afghanistan and what exactly they are achieving. Well-informed diplomats and policymakers are often very pessimistic in private, […]

International Engagement Read more

What comes after the Transition?

Martine van Bijlert

This evening I will be debating whether the West has failed in Afghanistan. Earlier this week I was asked to comment on Dutch plans to send a police mission to Kunduz. A week ago I spent two days brainstorming on what a sustainable transition in Afghanistan could look like (transition being code for phased exit). […]

International Engagement Read more

AAN Year-Ender: What we think about 2010 and 2011

Martine van Bijlert

As the year draws to a close we have asked friends, members and contributors to reflect on the year that lies behind us and on the new year that is about to start. The result is a long and eclectic list of observations, predictions, concerns and hopes. With the very best wishes for Afghanistan in […]

International Engagement Read more

Election Stalemate and the Revival of Old Fault Lines (updated)

Martine van Bijlert

To all those who have lost track of what’s going on with the Afghan Parliamentary elections: don’t feel too bad. It has become very difficult to follow, even for those of us who really try – not just in terms of who is pushing for what and what that may result in, but also in […]

Political Landscape Read more

Reviewing the US in Afghanistan

Martine van Bijlert

The changes in the US administration after Obama’s election brought a short and rather refreshing burst of frankness on how bleak the situation in Afghanistan was. At the time I mistook this for honesty and a tolerance for complexity, but it turned out to have been a somewhat sophisticated version of ‘slam the predecessor.’ This […]

International Engagement Read more

2010 Elections (34): Glossing over and moving on

Martine van Bijlert

Yesterday, on 24 November, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the final results for all but one of the Parliament’s constituencies. The UN and US were quick to welcome the move, having been desperate to do so for weeks. The message is clear and is by now a familiar one: ‘The process was messy, it […]

Political Landscape Read more