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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 10, 2022
Open source daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
LAST 24 HOURS:
Pakistani police stated the suicide bomber who attacked a Mosque in Peshawar recently originally hailed from Afghanistan.
Passport offices have closed for the next four days.
The Taliban gunned down two people in Baraki Square, Kabul. No further information is available at this time.
The Russian embassy in Kabul released a statement justifying Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Taliban have condemned the invasion.
The Salang Pass reopened finally for cars and light trucks. Buses and tractor trailer traffic is still prohibited.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
Security forces are reportedly planning to search districts 6 and 16. Some teams will be equipped with biometrics scanners.
The Minister for Defense is expected to continue his tour of Nimroz, the site of the recent border clashes with Iranian border guards and may meet Iranian officials to discuss methods of lowering tensions.
A meeting between the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Taliban’s acting Foreign Minister is expected to take place in advance of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum. Sources indicate the primary topic will be recognition and Turkey’s role in NATO to assist with lobbying efforts.
ANALYSIS SPOTLIGHT: Russian - Ukraine Reverberations
Among the varied channels that are closely monitoring the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one Russian scholar, Andrey Serenko, has been carefully sounding alarm bells on the possible implications for Central Asia and Afghanistan. Serenko, an expert at Moscow's Center for the Study of Contemporary Afghanistan who is possibly Russia's pre-eminent scholar on Afghanistan, recently suggested that senior Taliban commanders would see a Russian military failure in Ukraine as a potential green light to intervene in the Badakhshan region of Tajikistan. His claim has since been picked up by Rosbalt News agency (Rosbalt was labeled a ‘foreign agent’ by the Kremlin in 2021) and in several Central Asian news outlets.
Serenko claims the Taliban believe Moscow would be reluctant to get involved in a Central Asia issue if the Ukraine invasion fails. Taking advantage of that opportunity, he believes Badakhshan would be the Taliban’s first target given the historical ties between the Badakhshan region in Tajikistan and Afghanistan and the desire of hardliners to “liberate” the Pamiri communities there.
Considering the recent issues in Tajikistan, the cross-border problems they continue to have with their neighbor Kyrgyzstan, and Afghan hardliners’ liberation dreams, we wanted to closely examine Serenko’s claims.
We do not expect the Taliban to act as Serenko suggests for three reasons.
Firstly, although Russia’s military operation has illustrated glaring issues within their forces, we believe they will ultimately achieve limited goals in Ukraine and declare victory. Even in “victory”, Russia’s economy and public morale will be weakened after the draining invasion and international backlash. However, Russia will not be so weakened that it will hesitate to intervene in major issues in its sphere of influence. In fact, they may be emboldened to react to situations within their sphere of influence in order to reassert their authority on the international stage.
Secondly, the presence of a Russian military base and two Chinese military bases in Tajikistan would give the Taliban leadership pause before launching any attacks. The Russian base has been significantly reinforced since the fall of Kabul, and the second, newly added Chinese base is a direct by-product of the Taliban takeover. Clearly, both Russia and China see potential instability in Afghanistan as a threat and have taken action to prepare for any issues that may spill across the border. At the same time, both are pursuing dialogue with the Taliban, and China especially is seeking to develop greater commercial ties. The current Taliban leadership also values these positive relationships with strong regional powers.
Finally, the current regime in Kabul is focused primarily on building up their fledgling state, retaining control of Afghanistan’s cities, and obtaining international recognition. The Taliban’s current leadership would likely not decide to divert resources to an international fight at this moment. However, it must be noted that the hardline factions in Afghanistan such as the Haqqani Network, al-Qaeda, and ISIS have long fought to establish a caliphate across Central Asia and Western China. Should the hard-liners ever succeed in taking the reins of power in Afghanistan, a campaign of “liberation” could manifest.
Ultimately, we feel Serenko’s claims may be aimed at framing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a more positive light by warning countries who support Ukraine that Russia’s defeat could cause instability in other regions of the world. However, even if Russia is totally defeated, which we believe unlikely, we do not expect a full withdrawal from its sphere of influence.
However, we are reluctant to fully dismiss the recent military buildup in Afghanistan. We believe the new Afghan forces will be used primarily domestically to keep the Taliban in power, but given their massive size for the region it is possible they could be used internationally. Furthermore, the potential of a hardliner takeover could cause a complete recalculation of Taliban goals. We recommend observers continue to monitor the situation.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 88.62 AFN (as of 10 MAR 2022)
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International News Relating to Afghanistan
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