Daily Evacuation Brief | April 1, 2022
LAST 24 HOURS
The fighting in Andarab that began on March 29 with a pre-dawn raid on a suspected NRF stronghold ended with multiple dead on both sides. Noted commanders from the Taliban and NRF were reported to be included among the dead.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced an additional $204 million in new humanitarian assistance funding for the UN and NGO partners in Afghanistan.
Russia has formally recognized an IEA diplomatic representative in Moscow. Russia is thought to be the first country in the world to have issued accreditation letters to a Taliban diplomat.
Iran made another call for the Taliban to form an inclusive government and chided the Taliban Foreign Minister for their policies with regards to women’s rights under Islamic law.
In Kabul, the city government began closing several shops accused of artificially elevating prices of products. The closures drew criticism from the business community as regulated price controls are not believed to be sustainable.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
The Palace shared a letter with security forces naming 20 former male military personnel and providing identifying photographs. At-risk Afghans are advised to continue observing personal security guidance and to not carry documents or articles that may incriminate oneself. If the letter becomes available, we will share it.
The Kabul- and Jalalabad-based troops who had been sent to reinforce Andarab recently are expected to return to their bases. At-risk Afghans may notice increased military vehicular traffic on the roads due to the recall order.
The Taliban Discover the Ramifications of Being an Unreliable Partner
There is a clear regional and international consensus that the Taliban cannot be trusted to rule, promote security, or distribute aid effectively. Concerns are becoming more openly communicated as leaders lose confidence in the new regime and allow the doubts they harbor to move them farther from relying on the Taliban in any way.
Even countries historically supportive of the Taliban regime appear to be losing faith in the Taliban’s ability to help them meet their own security goals. This is particularly consequential since many of these countries only supported the Taliban’s takeover because they thought they might be better security partners. Clearly, that is not proving to be the case.
Foreign Ministers from Afghanistan’s neighboring countries recently met in Tunxi, China, where skepticism abounded and was publicly communicated. Although there were still many commitments to regional development and cooperation, a major theme of doubt and security concerns permeated all conversations and statements:
Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian (Iran) – “Our lingering concern is the threat of terrorism spreading from within Afghanistan, the expansion of Daesh and its recruitment inside Afghanistan as well as in some regional countries, along with moves that Daesh makes to train its operatives and further expand toward the northern areas of Afghanistan.”
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Pakistan) – “China and Pakistan, as Afghanistan’s neighbors, have a common interest in peace and stability and do not want terrorism in Afghanistan. We are concerned about the activities of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and China is concerned about the activities of the East Turkestan Islamic Group.”
Minister Sergei Lavrov (Russia) – “The build-up of detachments of Jamaat Ansarullah and the Islamic Movement Uzbekistan around the Afghan-Tajik and Afghan-Uzbek borders are an alarming sign.”
These statements contradict the Taliban’s repeated assurances that they have the security situation under control and no terrorist groups are allowed to operate within the country. Partner countries have repeatedly seen evidence that contradicts the Taliban’s empty promises, such as the recent appearance of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement’s leader in Afghanistan, continued Daesh activities, the proliferation of the TTP, and the build-up of various armed groups throughout the country. No one rational believes that the Taliban are being true to their word, and that doubt is beginning to color all of their diplomatic relations.
Similar doubts are shaping the UN and international community’s approach to the distribution of humanitarian aid. UN Secretary General António Guterres gave two speeches on March 31st focused on the need for regional cooperation and the need for unqualified aid to Afghans in need. Throughout his addresses, the Secretary General carefully skirted around acknowledging the Taliban and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, instead referring occasionally to the need to cooperate with “de facto authorities” for the sake of the population. He appears upset by recent hardline policies instituted by the Taliban, specifically condemning their policy reversal on secondary school for girls, even if he believes continued engagement is necessary. However, after carefully considering the Taliban’s demands for close involvement or even control of the distribution of aid, it appears the UN has stepped back from that possibility yet again.
The UN is carefully treading the line between engagement and partnership. They understand that in order to retain access they must engage with the Taliban; however, they are clear that they will not have control over the implementation of programs and distribution of aid. This is further clarified in section 6.2, which states that the UN “will continue to engage with the de facto authorities at national and sub-national levels to enable the carrying out of their activities under the TEF UN principles of engagement. The UN will carry out its activities through, but not limited to, non-governmental implementing partners including the Community Development Councils and other community-based organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, and the private sector...” (emphasis added)
However clear this intention is, and however well-based the UN’s skepticism of executing their mission in close partnership with the Taliban is, the Taliban unfortunately retain the ultimate power. They can hold their people hostage and prevent access. It is unclear what the UN will do if this situation manifests, since they know the Taliban cannot be trusted to manage the funds or direct resources effectively.
It is indeed a Gordian knot where no solution may be tenable if the Taliban put their foot down to the detriment of their own people. The issue is that any Alexandrian solution—an NRF takeover, Taliban collapse, giving into full cooperation with the Taliban and providing them with funds, or anything similarly dramatic—has as many negative consequences as positive.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 88.63 AFN (as of 1 APR 2022)
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