Daily Evacuation Brief | January 25, 2022
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LAST 24 HOURS:
Despite earlier reports that Salang Pass had been closed due to snowfall, Pashtun Taliban reinforcements from Kabul arrived in Mazar to bolster local security forces. Most were posted to the numerous existing checkpoints around the city. This included a large cadre of intelligence officials to direct and coordinate police and military forces during the heightened security situation in the region.
More arrests were made in and around Mazar, including several at-risk Afghans. Security forces claimed to be actively searching for domestic security threats.
The second day of talks between the Taliban and the International community concluded in Oslo.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
Expect increased patrolling by Pashtun Taliban forces in both Mazar and Herat.
The final day of talks in Oslo will take place.
It is possible the Pashtun Taliban commander in Mazar will issue a decree concerning all at-risk Afghans who are in Mazar awaiting evacuation. The decree may state that evacuation operations in Mazar will cease and those awaiting flights in the city are to return to their province of origin. It is not currently clear if the leadership in Kabul will enforce such a measure.
Increased Taliban presence in Mazar:
Context: Increased Taliban presence in Mazar and Herat comes on the heels of several violent confrontations between the Taliban and splinter factions, including the arrest of the senior Uzbek Taliban commander and a clash between reported NRF militants which left 8 suspected fighters dead. There was also an ISIS-K car bombing in Herat which killed at least 7 people.
Discussion: Sources state there is a concerted effort by Pashtun Taliban to assert control in these areas. The newly arrived forces claim to be there to thwart a human trafficking operation involving several young girls. However, according to multiple sources close to the Taliban, Kabul-based Taliban are concerned about a potential alliance between the Uzbek and Tajik Taliban which would aim to undermine Pashtun influence in Mazar. Furthermore, there are concerns regarding sympathies among local leadership for the NRF. Finally, they are expanding their efforts to shut down evacuation efforts. The newly arrived intelligence officials questioned several hospitality employees of a hotel known to be frequented by at-risk Afghans and subsequently placed them under arrest. They also questioned the staff of a local NGO engaged in providing food to displaced persons in the city. A source states the officials demanded lists of names, family information, addresses, and the duration of their stay in Mazar. Immediately following these interrogations, Pashtun Taliban forces were witnessed searching multiple homes in several Mazar neighborhoods. One source overheard an intelligence official remark that there may be a decision made on Thursday to order all non-residents of Mazar to vacate the city.
Analysis: The increased security presence and crackdown on the evacuation process represents a new paradigm for those involved in evacuation efforts. In previous operations conducted in Mazar, there were instances of interference but without the group arrests and interrogations, we have seen over the last few days. It is also notable that Pashtun forces were dispatched from Kabul in such an urgent manner and during a period of exceedingly difficult travel. Kabul has clearly decided to take an active role in the north, and it will almost certainly affect future operations. At-risk Afghans are advised to shelter in place until a clearer picture emerges.
Oslo talks: Monday’s multilateral talks included the US, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, and the EU. The Taliban continued to focus on petitioning for the release of their assets and increased aid, while the West pushed for democratic elections and recognition of women’s rights in Afghanistan. No concrete results have emerged yet, nor is a deal including these demands predicted. However, Taliban officials did meet with a delegation of Afghan women activists, in what is being called a positive sign following the recent disappearance of female protestors in Kabul and a continued lack of demonstration of commitment for women’s rights. More confirmation will be available after the talks conclude on Tuesday and statements are issued.
Afghani to the Dollar: .0095 – 1 (as of 24 JAN 2022)
Afghan Women’s Rights Activists Forcibly Disappeared | Human Rights Watch | By Patricia Gossman
The Taliban’s response to the apparent enforced disappearance of Tamana Paryani, Parwana Ibrahimkhel, and other women activists in Afghanistan has laid bare their intent to eradicate critical women’s voices through unlawful use of force. Taliban leaders have denied arresting the women, heightening concerns for their safety and prompt release…
AIB takes delivery of 6th cash aid package from UN | Ariana News | By Ariana News
The sixth transfer of humanitarian aid in US dollars from the United Nations has arrived in Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank said on Monday…
Pakistan Sends Secret Delegation To Afghanistan In Bid To Revive Peace Talks With TTP | Gandhara | By Daud Khattak - Radio Free Europe
Pakistan sent a secret delegation to neighboring Afghanistan to hold talks with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as part of efforts to revive peace efforts with the militant group, sources told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal…
International News Relating to Afghanistan
Taliban delegation very happy with Oslo meetings: “An achievement” | Norway Today | By Robin-Ivan Capar
The meetings in Oslo have in themselves been “an achievement” for the Taliban, the Afghan Islamist foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi stated on Monday.
“The fact that Norway has given us this opportunity is in itself an achievement for us, as we have been able to share the stage with the world,” he said…
“NRF” leaders may meet with Taliban in Moscow | Khaama Press | By Najibullah Lalzoy
Sources have confirmed to the media that leaders of the “National Resistance Force” Ahmad Masoud and Amrullah Saleh and leader of Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani are supposed to travel to the Russian capital Moscow to negotiate with key members of the Taliban…
Reports Uncertain About Mullah Baradar's Trip to Moscow | By TOLOnews
The ex-Intelligence chief of the former government claimed that the First Deputy of the Prime Minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and acting Defense Minister Mullah Yaqoob have traveled to Moscow…
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