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Daily Evacuation Brief | February 2, 2022
Daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region
Welcome to the Daily Evacuation Brief. For more in-depth intelligence analysis and crisis research, please subscribe to our members-only journal, which comes out twice a week: Whispers & Anatomy of a Crisis.
LAST 24 HOURS:
· US questions top Ghani aide on corruption and collapse of the Afghan government.
· Two prominent journalists went missing in Kabul.
· The impasse over Ukraine continues with no diplomatic end in sight.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
· Russia is expected to offer official invitations to representatives of the Taliban and NRF for dialogue in Moscow. Most observers believe this will be the second round of talks in Moscow.
· Pakistan military forces are expected to rebuild part of the Durand Line that was torn down over the last two weeks in Nangarhar Province.
The National Resistance Front
CONTEXT: The National Resistance Front (NRF) has reputedly met twice for talks with the Taliban. At the first meeting in Iran, several outlets reported that the NRF proposed a power-sharing agreement, which the Taliban rejected. The second meeting was kept quiet with no official confirmation by the hosts, although it is believed that it occurred in Moscow in late January. Now, Russia is signaling a third Moscow-based meeting may be within the next two weeks. There have been several clashes between the Taliban and fighters alleged to be members of the NRF in Balkh Province. One significant fight lasted three days, killed 8-10 NRF fighters, and, most notably, resulted in the seizure of a weapons cache that reportedly contained newly imported rifles still in their packing crates.
DISCUSSION: So, who exactly are the NRF? Are they simply the Northern Alliance 2.0 as some have alleged? Or is this a new amalgamation with an entirely different agenda? Whoever they are, they appear to enjoy enough credibility in the region for Tehran and Moscow to invite them into conference rooms.
It is rumored that the NRF has existed for some time and was formed by a powerful bloc of influential Northern former government officials, diplomats, military, and business leaders to act as a check on Pashtun dominance under the former regime. After the withdrawal of US forces, they reportedly began to consolidate and start holding talks with different governments and sympathetic groups interested in potentially opposing the Taliban.
The group has a presence in Washington, D.C. where they have retained a lobbying firm and misled some members of the press, a few elected representatives, and select members of an Afghan Evacuation group as to their goals and aims. They appear to be globally organized, well-financed, and command access at extremely prominent levels. The fact the Taliban are meeting with them indicates they pose a threat and are being taken seriously.
ANALYSIS: The NRF is really the only other legitimate piece on the chessboard at this point. ISIS-K does not have enough support to truly challenge the Taliban and will continue their terror campaign. If the NRF can seize upon dissatisfaction among ethnic minority Taliban groups like the Uzbek and Tajik Taliban to build alliances, it is entirely possible they could cause major problems for Kabul. Not enough is known about their capabilities, recruitment, and equipment status to suggest they could unseat the Taliban, but they are likely able to capture towns and cut off lines of supply in the Spring. It would be interesting to know who is sending them crates of weapons?
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 100.63 AFN (as of 2 FEB 2022)
Taliban Detains Two Kabul Journalists, Colleagues And Relatives Say | By Radio Free Europe
Two local journalists from popular Afghan private television network Ariana have been detained by Taliban forces in Kabul for unknown reasons, according to their colleagues and family members…
The Taliban’s Diplomatic Race to Avoid Afghanistan’s Collapse | Reset DIALOGUES | By Luca Steinmann
Seib Abdushukur sits behind a large desk. A robust figure, with a dark, long, well-groomed beard. He wears a white turban on his head, his body is wrapped in a long black mantle that reveals only his bare feet. A large white flag with black writing reciting the Shahadah, the oath of faith to the Islamic religion, hangs on the wall behind him. Numerous young mujahideen sit around him…
‘We're Going to Live Among Our People’: The Afghans Returning to Taliban Rule | Vice | By Sara Elsami and Mohammed Rasool
ZAHEDAN, Iran – In the aftermath of the chaotic Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, thousands of people fled over the border with Iran, escaping what they feared was a return to the militants’ harsh rule in the 1990s…
With US Away, China Gets Friendly with Afghanistan's Taliban | VOA | By Asim Kashgarian
It's approaching six months since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital, Kabul, on August 15. And in the months since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, neighboring China has taken a keen interest in the fate of the Central Asian country…
Central Asia’s Shifting Geopolitics | EVN | By Ara Aivazian
The pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which was completed in August 2021, marked the beginning of a new period of instability for the wider region. Many experts concurred that Afghanistan under the Taliban will trigger new developments, and the center of gravity will inevitably shift to Central Asia that borders China, Russia, and Iran…
International News Relating to Afghanistan
A star of Afghanistan's national women's basketball team thought she would be in Canada by now, building a new life with her family after they were forced to flee their old one. Instead, they're stuck living in a northern Albania hotel, mired in uncertainty…
The Russian envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that his country is ready to receive delegates of both Afghanistan’s authorities and opposition forces, in case they are interested. In an interview with Russian news agency TASS, Kabulov said that Russian officials have repeatedly declared they will host such meetings…
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