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Daily Evacuation Brief | February 8, 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 (Mondays) & Anatomy of a Crisis (Wednesdays).
LAST 24 HOURS:
· The Taliban executed a raid on a hotel in Mazar. Sporadic arrests have been reported but not confirmed. However, refugees awaiting evacuation in the city were contacted and told to attend a meeting about their travel that is believed to be organized by the Taliban. At-risk Afghans should be warned to avoid such meetings.
· A large bomb exploded in the city of Fayzabad. The director of security forces was the intended target. No further information is known at this time.
· A landmine was detonated in central Panjshir province. A security forces vehicle was targeted but no reports of casualties have been made.
· An avalanche in a mountain pass on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan has claimed nineteen lives so far.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
· Salang Pass is expected to reopen to civilian vehicle travel.
· Security operations in Mazar appear to be continuing with no end in sight.
· Patrols in Panjshir province will increase due to the recent bombings.
Recognizing the Taliban
CONTEXT: The Taliban are in a race. The prize is international recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. To date, no developed country has yet provided this recognition.
The Taliban have acquiesced to significant demands made by the international community. They have announced gender equality initiatives, freed political prisoners, and, although there have been numerous retributive killings, the mass wholesale slaughter that was feared never materialized. However, many of their domestic programs are mere window dressing, and their actions on the ground betray the difference between “what is said” and “what is done.” The press has been effectively muzzled, women can pursue limited educational and work opportunities, and secret arrests and killings continue to be reported.
Even so, a chorus of regional and international figures, most recently a former British Defence Secretary who commanded in Afghanistan, have called for recognizing the Taliban. Although the UN is holding out, they will likely lean toward recognition in the coming weeks and months, primarily as a matter of expediency in order to fulfill mandates to stave off famine. Similarly, China and Russia, both primarily motivated by profit and regional security, appear to be leaning toward recognition and may soon announce it publicly. All interested parties have their own interests at stake; few are truly motivated by the welfare of the Afghan people.
So why are the US and NATO holding out? The reality is most observers are not sure the Taliban will be in place by the summer of 2022. Despite all the Taliban press releases claiming control of the country, the picture on the ground suggests the opposite. ISIS-K is increasingly active, the TTP is antagonizing Pakistan from inside of Afghanistan, and the NRF is actively recruiting and chipping away at ethnic minorities in the Taliban. Could a revitalized Northern Alliance 2.0 sweep the Taliban out of power similar to 2001? Nothing is clear at this point, which is exactly why NATO and other developed countries are likely holding the line on recognition.
As the Taliban regime’s sustainability is considered, the following points are key:
The Taliban continue to make glaring mistakes with the ethnic groups allied to their cause, especially among the Tajik and Uzbek wings. Mutual contempt and distrust between Pashtun forces and other ethnic wings has been publicly displayed in the North by the Uzbek mutiny and the subsequent deployment of Pashtun Taliban to Faryab province.
Continuing to allow TTP forces freedom of movement and a launchpad from which to attack Pakistan will erodeKabul’s support from their staunchest ally.
The factionalism between the Kandahari and the Haqqani network are beginning to illustrate the fault lines, which could invite splinter factions to exploit the fissure.
The economic crisis is mostly beyond the Taliban’s control and will erode popular support the longer it endures.
Distrust among even sympathetic international aid agencies continues to grow over mysterious disappearances of human rights activists and former government officials.
ANALYSIS: Our analysis suggests the following trends will be observed:
The US and NATO have extensive experience in situations such as the one faced with the Taliban currently. They are playing a smart game and will remain in their current stance until a clearer picture emerges. Preemptive recognition would diminish their bargaining position.
The Taliban will continue to push for recognition but will face diminishing credibility as their disingenuous domestic policies continue to be implemented and their shortcomings exposed. These competing problems will increase the divide between the Kandahari and Haqqani factions.
Pakistan and other regional powers will be forced to adopt a harder line with Kabul, especially if cross-border attacks continue.
Russia and China may be the first states to offer recognition. They will do it for political purposes—especially to embarrass the US and NATO—and to secure lucrative mining contracts.
ISIS-K and the NRF may escalate operations if recognition looks like it is forthcoming. They will strive to show the world a fragmented Taliban.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 94.98 AFN (as of 8 FEB 2022)
By TOLO News
The Islamic Emirate on Monday rejected a report by the United Nations Security Council Monitoring Team which said that following the political change in Afghanistan, foreign insurgent groups enjoy greater freedom in the country…
By MEHR News Agency
Local Afghan media reported a horrific explosion in the city of Fayzabad, the capital of Badakhshan province on Monday afternoon…
By Yeni Safak
Turkey’s special charity train carrying 750 tons of emergency goods will reach Afghanistan on Monday. The train left the Turkish capital Ankara late last month…
International News Relating to Afghanistan
By Beth Bailey – Washington Examiner
U.S. company Olive Group employed Mahmoud, whose name has been changed for his protection, as an Afghan national election adviser between December 2018 and June 2020…
By Jane Bradley – The Scotsman
The former chief of the UK’s defence staff has warned that it is time to accept the war against the Taliban has been lost and to work with the country’s new leaders to protect the Afghan people…
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Changemakers: Changemakers committed to evacuation and resettlement efforts. (biweekly- all subscribers)
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