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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 11, 2022
Open source daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
LAST 24 HOURS:
Pakistan announced they had killed three terrorists—Abdul Wajid, Muzaffar Shah, and Muhammad Tariq—by gunfire in the Khyber district, bordering Afghanistan. They claimed that one of the three killed was involved in planning the recent deadly mosque bombing in Peshawar.
Security forces were active in districts 6 and 16, and some of the teams were equipped with portable biometrics scanners. Multiple witnesses reported seeing a man shot to death when he fled a Taliban search team in Kabul.
The Taliban claimed to have seized 40 Scud missiles in Panjshir and transported them back to Kabul. It is unclear who controlled the missiles and what their intended use would be.
The passport offices remain closed until the weekend for audits ordered by the new Director General of Passports.
Negotiations between the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine commenced in Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister also participated in the talks.
There are uncomfirmed reports that a nationwide curfew has been ordered by the Ministry of Interior from 2200hrs until 0500hrs. Although there have been curfews imposed before, they were often not enforced. Things may be different this time and at-risk Afghans are advised to adhere to the curfew.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
Former President Karzai is expected to call for a loya jirga (a traditional Afghan representative council to discuss and decide on key issues) to prepare a proposal on elections for the Taliban.
Statements by both Russia and Ukraine are expected from Turkey. They may shed some light on the status of negotiations to halt the invasion of Ukraine.
ANALYSIS SPOTLIGHT: TAPI, Regional Engagement, and Nonexistant Funding
Misleading headlines have been spreading the past few days following a Pakistani newspaper’s reporting on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (TAPI). According to the report, the ADB is temporarily withdrawing from engaging on TAPI and ceasing “due diligence and processing activities” until the Taliban receives international recognition. This information was leaked by a senior member of Pakistan’s Energy Ministry who said that in a recent meeting with Turkmen officials they had disclosed that ADB had lost all interest in the project.
However, the ADB quickly contested the reporting, saying it remained deeply interested in supporting TAPI and that it had already ceased due diligence and processing activities back in November 2021. However, ADB has continued to remain engaged in a number of projects in Afghanistan.
Regardless, based on recent meetings between relevant countries, TAPI will be immediately pursued without ADB funding. Following a meeting with Turkmen officials on March 10, the Taliban claimed that they will pay 5% of the project's expenses.
The bottom line appears to be that ADB remains interested, but that interest will not manifest into cash and engagement on TAPI until the Taliban gains recognition from the UN and major economies. This drastically hinders Afghanistan’s aspiration to serve as a regional hub of transport and commerce.
Former President Ashraf Ghani envisioned Afghanistan as the roundabout of Asia, and this idea appears to have been adopted by the Taliban as well. In a January speech at the Taliban’s first economic conference, Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi spoke about a desire for a collaborative, economic-centric foreign policy. Language about Afghanistan as ”a hub of regional economic connectivity” and infrastructure projects as a path to self-sufficiency were eerily reminiscent of the overthrown Ghani administration’s past language and goals. Now that the Taliban are in power, they are eagerly picking up the projects they’ve spent the past two decades undermining.
The TAPI gas pipeline is key to this effort. Other critical projects the Taliban have said they are dedicated to pursuing include the Ring Road to improve transport through Afghanistan, the Central Asia-South Asia power project (aka CASA-1000), and the trans-Afghan rail projects to better connect the region. Although the World Bank is not yet sure how to proceed on CASA-1000, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan remain fully engaged with the Taliban and supportive on all relevant regional projects. In fact, many projects are still being undertaken in the absence of international funding, and some are even being expedited.
Regional engagement is key since the Taliban’s funding is limited. As long as they have major financial commitments from neighboring countries, the projects may proceed without international funding, albeit much slower than anticipated given the overly optimistic current timelines. However, if the Taliban are expected to actually pay the amounts they have committed to, the project may flounder again. They do not have the funds, especially with the massive military budget they recently proposed. These potential projects cost billions of dollars, and the Taliban already cannot afford to keep their citizens fed or their soldiers paid.
It makes sense that the Taliban would make these grand proclamations. It makes the Taliban appear to be responsible rulers committed to reasonable priorities and allows them to improve regional engagement. However, with an economy on the brink of collapse, it is clear these are empty promises and unsustainable pretenses, unless the Taliban is willing to drive themselves deeper into economic ruin for the sake of optics.
Separately, the hesitancy of ADB and the World Bank brings up interesting questions about legitimacy. If the NRF or another resistance group was able to take the country back by force, would these institutions re-engage? Would international recognition be forthcoming? Would it depend on whether democratic elections are immediately announced or not? Are there any circumstances under which they would cooperate with a regime that took power by force who has not yet held elections? Some interesting double standards in the treatment of groups who take control by non-democratic means may come to light over the next months and years.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 88.48 AFN (as of 11 MAR 2022)
By Emal Rahimi – Pajhwok Afghan News
Security forces have recovered 40 Russian-made Scud Missiles in central Panjshir province and…
By Bakhtar News Agency
Abdul Qadir Ahmad, Second Deputy of Da Afghanistan Bank, in a meeting with representatives of the Child Protection Department, called for the…
By Najibullah Lalzoy – Khaama Press
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that he himself and former head of Afghan reconciliation council…
By TOLO News
Exchanging worn-out banknotes in small denominations at private and state-owned banks is posing a serious…
By The Independent Persian
طالبان برای پروندهسازی و به دام انداختن افراد مورد نظر خود، در برخی از شهرهای افغانستان، از جمله مزارشریف، از «تلههای عسلی» که…
By S. Muddasir Ali Shah – Pajhwok Afghan News
Three suspected terrorists, including the main handler of a deadly suicide attack on a mosque in…
By Ariana News
The official said there has not been any deliberate action by the new government in Afghanistan that would undermine…
International News Relating to Afghanistan
By Mark Weisbrot – USA Today
When President Joe Biden decided to withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan last year, much of America's news…
By Pajhwok Monitor
Top Russian and Ukrainian diplomats are expected to meet in Turkey today (Thursday), says a…
The Absurdity of the Day
By Bakhtar News Agency
US officials say they will not allow Afghanistan to become safe haven for terrorists. But the Islamic Emirate insists that…
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