Daily Evacuation Brief | February 17, 2022
Daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
Last 24 Hours
The Taliban sent three military aircraft to Feyzabad to reinforce the region against a rumored NRF attack.
Reportedly several groups of former Afghan government officials publicly pledged themselves to the NRF in multiple cities.
Russia is said to have moved 7,000 more troops to the Ukraine border, contradicting their previous announcement they were ordering some of their forces back to their bases.
The Taliban erected and manned additional checkpoints along the route between Jalalabad and Kabul.
Next 24 Hours
The Taliban’s troop movements and repositioning of military aircraft may be precursors to an impending military action. At-risk Afghans are advised to take extra precautions, and travel between Jalalabad and Kabul is discouraged.
More Russian troops and equipment are expected to arrive in Tajikistan to reinforce the central government givenconcerns in the Pamir region.
COULD TAJIKISTAN BE THE NEXT REGIONAL CRISIS?
CONTEXT: Since December, Russia has quietly been reinforcing their garrisons in Tajikistan. Reportedly they are concerned with the threat posed by alleged separatists in the cross-border areas of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province (GBAO) where unrest has been growing since late fall 2021. China’s military has also reportedly established several bases in the eastern portion of the GBAO, which also borders China.
The issue came up in a telephone call between the US Secretary of Defense and the Russian Defense Minister on 12 February where the two expressed concern over the issues on the Tajik-Afghan border. When taken in context with the recent proclamation by the Taliban to dispatch an additional 10,000 troops to the border, it is a cause for concern and merits continued scrutiny.
The GBAO encompasses nearly half the country, has less than 5% of the population, and is ethnically distinct from the rest of the country. It has long been a bastion for separatists with grumblings coming out of the GBAO about creating a separate state for decades. However, with the chaos in the region, some may seize the moment to force the issue. With all the additional military forces in the area, it could get out of control quickly.
ANALYSIS: Flying in troops is one thing; moving in battalions of new tanks is quite another. Russia is clearly concerned about the stability of the government of Tajikistan. Our analysis indicates the Russians would assume control of any potential military operation that may take place in Pamir or elsewhere. We believe the financial and military support provided thus far indicates Russia’s desire to fortify its buffer states. China’s goals in the area are unclear but we do not believe they conflict with Russia.
If Tajikistan were to become embroiled in civil war or even collapse as well, the regional refugee crisis would deepen, likely causing destination countries to further clamp down on refugee intake. Afghan refugees in Tajikistan could be displaced yet again due to violence, and state resources supporting refugees would completely dry up. Furthermore, the Taliban may come into conflict with their neighbor given the permeability of their shared border and potential for separatist militants to take refuge in Afghanistan. Finally, dealing with this conflict on their border would further drain the Taliban’s resources.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 91.51 AFN (as of 17 FEB 2022)
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