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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 1, 2022
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LAST 24 HOURS:
The Taliban have reportedly gone back into select districts in Kabul to reinspect certain houses. It is not yet clear what they are looking for and why the houses have been chosen.
The Taliban claim they will restrict Afghans’ ability to travel to other countries purportedly because they are obligated to ensure Afghans are cared for even after they leave the country. The specifics about this new policy are not known at this time. See analysis below for more information.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
Taliban security forces are expected to begin searches in Jalalabad, Kunduz, and Takhar over the next several days. ISIS-K has threatened to attack Taliban forces in/around Jalalabad, and there is potential for violence. At-risk Afghans in these localities are advised to maintain a low profile and limit any travel in the cities while the searches take place.
The Taliban is expected to provide additional information concerning travel restrictions during a Ministry of the Interior press conference.
ANALYSIS SPOTLIGHT: NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
CONTEXT: Over the last 24 hours, the Taliban announced new restrictions for people attempting to leave Afghanistan. Previously, these restrictions were thought to only concern flights and those traveling by air to foreign destinations. However, the recent proclamation states all travel, both air and ground, will be subject to the new rules, and Afghans will need “a good reason” to travel to a neighboring country. This extreme measure should come as no surprise to observers. It is important to break down the four dominant factors which we assess to have led to this situation:
1. Mass Exodus - Afghanistan’s neighbors have struggled logistically and economically with the influx of refugees since August 2021. Iran and Pakistan, the two countries who have seen the largest influx of Afghans, have quietly been lobbying the Taliban since early September 2021 to halt the mass exodus. Neighboring countries’ grievances have not been shared widely in the press because of sensitivities about the precarious state of the fledgling regime. However, behind closed doors many official discussions with visiting delegations have highlighted the refugee problem as a major concern.
2. International Recognition - Despite recent remarks by high-ranking regime officials about ‘secret recognition’ already being granted, no country appears poised to publicly recognize the Taliban yet. The Taliban may see an opportunity to leverage Afghans who are still attempting to flee as bargaining chips for recognition.
3. A Distracted World - With global attention focused squarely on the war in Ukraine, the Taliban may have thought the time was ripe to institute heavier restrictions and slow the ‘brain drain’ that will hobble the country for generations to come.
4. Public Opinion - A legitimate concern for the treatment of their citizens abroad must at least be considered. While it is easy to demonize the Taliban for everything bad that happens in the country, it is foolish to think the regime’s sole aim is to terrorize and neglect its own citizens. There are moderates among the leadership who appear to genuinely care about the people, and even the more draconian element recognizes the need to listen to the people from time to time. Recent reports about the ‘sometimes savage’ treatment of Afghans who are deported back into the country or living in poor conditions, while not typical, are genuinely concerning. It is not incomprehensible to think a few leaders are genuinely concerned for their citizens.
ANALYSIS: Of these factors, our analysis indicates that pressure from neighbors was likely the main impetus for the new policy. Sources indicate the refugee problem was a main point of contention at the Taliban-Pakistan meeting that took place at the border yesterday. The economic consequences of absorbing such a large, displaced population in a relatively short time support our conclusion. We believe the Taliban intends to enforce the new policies for a time but will ultimately be forced to relent on certain aspects as effective border control is simply beyond their capabilities at this point. However, flights may be restricted for a longer amount of time.
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