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Daily Evacuation Brief | April 17, 2022
NEXT 24 HOURS:
It is possible the Afghan border with Pakistan will be closed soon. The diplomatic fallout of the violence this past week has created an impasse, and we believe the new government in Islamabad will want to show strength in its early dealings with the Taliban. Clearly, Pakistan does not buy into the repeated declarations from the Taliban that terrorist groups have no safe havens in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s neighbors are expected to increase security at their borders in response to Pakistani military actions. Governmental sources across the region have voiced concerns about the Taliban’s ability to contain the insurgency they are facing in the North. Pakistan’s actions have likely elevated these concerns, and we expect tighter controls and additional military/police personnel to be stationed at crossing points. Afghans will possibly experience additional screening processes in the immediate future.
China is expected to call for an emergency UN Security Council session within the next twenty-four hours to mediate a resolution to the cross-border violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We expect Russia to support this call.
SPOTLIGHT ANALYSIS: Neighborly Cooperation?
CONTEXT: Beginning on April 14, 2022, observers in and around Mazar-i-Sharif have witnessed increased Uzbek military flights along the border with Afghanistan. These observers claimed only sporadic flights had been observed prior to Wednesday. Currently, there are approximately two to three sorties every 24 hour period.
DISCUSSION: It is possible these flights may be routine or training related, but the timing before the recent air strikes by Pakistan raises questions. We believe the sudden increase suggests that intelligence about Afghanistan is either being shared or intercepted by neighboring states. We feel the old intelligence adage “There are no coincidences” likely applies in this case.
As of April 16, 2022, the Taliban are facing multiple challenges:
An active insurgency in the North involving several opposition groups who may or may not be coordinating operations jointly. The insurgents are having some success with executing dispersed attacks, and it is getting harder to hide the internal problems to the rest of the world.
A brewing ethnic split between the main Pashtun Taliban forces and the Tajik and Uzbek factions who have been increasingly marginalized.
Factionalism within the Taliban between Kandahari and Haqqani loyalists has led to fierce infighting and disjointed policy decisions (e.g. the unpopular girls’ education decision).
Afghanistan’s neighbors have substantial experience with regional instability, and many face their own domestic opposition groups who share ideology with the Taliban. Information sharing has ebbed and flowed over the decades, but the lines of communication are well established. However, alliances with superpowers/metropoles have tempered the transparency behind these arrangements.
In this case, it appears that information was likely shared or intercepted by Russia and has been passed to the Tajik and Uzbek governments. Both countries have been reinforcing their border forces with additional troops arriving by trucks over the last 24 hours. These are strong indicators the Pakistani operations were known before the strikes occurred.
What is not clear at this point is whether the Uzbek flights began in response to an ambush by suspected TTP terrorists of a Pakistani Army column in Waziristan on Thursday or were simply in response to the increased flighting in Badakhshan. Many times in these situations, timing is critical and can answer questions about information collection activities. Further clarity is required before any assumptions can be made.
ANALYSIS: Regardless of how the information was gathered, it is clear that select neighboring states were apprised of upcoming Pakistani military operations and adjusted their security stance accordingly. Repositioning ground forces and conducting air reconnaissance are significant behavior changes that are not normally random acts for individual states. However, when conducted simultaneously, it is almost certainly the product of an intelligence accord. In this case, it is logical to assume that Russia acquired the intelligence and passed it to its allies.
Why does any of this matter?
One of the primary goals of analysis is to be predictive. Being able to assess changes in behaviors or systems can assist with anticipating new security paradigms. It is especially helpful to find evidence of coordination between groups/nations because evaluating joint or separate actions can assist with formulating responses more rapidly and effectively.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 87.27 AFN (as of 17 APR 2022)
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