Daily Evacuation Brief | February 23, 2022
Daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
LAST 24 HOURS:
A magnitude 4.3 earthquake hit near Herat yesterday evening. Residents in nearby towns felt the quake, but no damage has been reported.
3 men accused of seeking to kidnap the son of Haji Abdul Ahad Zargar were killed by security forces in Herat. Kidnappings have been on the rise and appear to be a lucrative criminal enterprise.
The US administration began referring to Russia’s troop movements in Ukraine as an “invasion”, and sanctions have been issued internationally following Russian President Putin’s recognition of two breakaway regions in Ukraine as fully autonomous states.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
More Pashtun Taliban troops are expected to be deployed around the country to deal with reports of increasing insurgency activity.
The crackdown on criminal gangs is expected to continue. Additional vehicles/personnel will be present at checkpoints around Kabul.
Many international observers believe Russia will begin offensive operations in Ukraine.
MORE TALIBAN TROOP DEPLOYMENTS
CONTEXT: Despite continued proclamations from the Taliban leadership regarding the pacification of the country, sizable troop deployments continue to be observed by sources and are frequently reported on in the media. Local commanders have been quoted on several occasions about security issues in their areas of operations and frequently reference concerns with opposition groups. Meanwhile, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) continues to recruit those opposed to the current regime.
The Taliban Army graduated several cadres of new fighters over the last few weeks. Most sources report the new recruits received a maximum of four weeks of training, indicating a serious lack of proficiency. They are primarily trained in light infantry tactics and have a significant problem on the logistics/communications front. According to several sources, nearly all communications are carried out by cell phone, which seriously hampers effective and timely operations.
Simultaneously, they have been purging large groups of fighters from their ranks, including nearly 5,000 in just the last week. It is believed the purges are focused on removing ethnic minorities and replacing them with loyalists and/or Pashtuns.
Obviously, the Taliban is reacting to more than just “banditry”. The most recent convoy of deployed troops totaled over 100 vehicles and included approximately 1,500 fighters. Such large deployments suggest a more serious threat. It is difficult to pinpoint the strength and capabilities of the NRF and any coalition forces they have rallied to their cause.
The Taliban has been desperate to keep a lid on the fractious situation in the country since coming to power. Their hunger for international recognition has forged an uneasy and possibly unsustainable truce between the Baradar and Haqqani factions. Things were easier for them when they could point the finger at Daesh/ISIS-K. History tells us that ethnic marginalization seldom works for long in any society, and cracks are beginning to appear in their façade of unity. Furthermore, all indications are that the NRF is up to something.
ANALYSIS: Despite the frequent messages of unity issued by the regime, something is clearly not right. Until more is known about the NRF and its ability to recruit support, it is wise to assume the Taliban will have to contend with its own insurgency over the short term and may face a well-armed and unified opposition over the coming year. Our assessment indicates that in either scenario, blood is sure to flow.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 91.83 AFN (as of 23 FEB 2022)
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