Discover more from The Afghan Digest
Daily Evacuation Brief | March 16, 2022
Open source daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
Introducing: Anatomy of a Crisis 001
Pragmatic thought leadership on disaster resilience and crisis management from a variety of experts. Click on the article to read the full analysis.
Afghanistan’s collapse into a humanitarian disaster was not inevitable after the Taliban takeover despite the Taliban’s incompetence as rulers, the United States military withdrawal, and even the inexorable press of famine and winter. The ultimate culprit was…
LAST 24 HOURS:
Multiple sources reported ISIS-K is actively recruiting former members of the Afghan Army and NDS. They are reputedly offering 30,000 afghanis. Whether that is a lump sum recruitment payment or a per month salary is currently unknown.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Afghanistan and met with representatives of the Taliban to discuss the situation. The focus of the discussions was mainly on internally displaced persons, but there Afghans stranded in other countries were also mentioned.
Gunfire was reported in the Khair Khana area (PD 11 and 15). Initially thought to be celebratory firing of some sort, it was abnormally sustained and was the sound appeared to shift locations. Further details will be shared when available.
A former member of the Afghan Army Rapid Reaction Force, Sultan Mohammad, was murdered in Farah by multiple masked gunmen. Taliban security forces claim to be searching for the assailants.
Serdar Berdymukhamedov, the son of the current president of Turkmenistan, has declared victory in the presidential election. His election creates a political dynasty in the country, and several in the international community have expressed concern over the message it may send throughout the region.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
A recent security crackdown on universities across the country by the Ministry of Higher Education is creating the potential for protests and civil disobedience. The Ministry of Higher Education has imposed a series of highly unpopular rules that stifle free speech. Students can be ejected, and universities could be shut down for violations. Some of the rules are:
Students and professors are prohibited from discussing or publishing information about their universities to local and foreign media.
Students are not permitted to speak about academic obstacles or the learning environment.
Males will only be taught by males; Females will only be taught by females.
No smartphones can be used inside university compounds.
Professors are not to share anything on social media.
ANALYSIS SPOTLIGHT: How Stable Is Tajikistan?
*We at the Afghan Digest continue to monitor Afghanistan’s neighbors because history has illustrated the propensity for instability to spread regionally and sometimes globally.
CONTEXT: Of Afghanistan’s neighbors, Tajikistan appears to be most prone to cause regional instability. The central government is weak and has a history of oppression, the Pamir region is in breakaway mode, there are Russian and Chinese troops stationed in the country, the Tajik government has been openly critical of the Taliban, and they continue to have bellicose relations with Kyrgyzstan.
This was all true even prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now the situation is even more unstable as the Tajik economy spirals downward.
DISCUSSION: The consequences of Russia’s invasion will have serious economic effects across Central Asia. Russia is a top trading partner in the region, and local currencies are tied to the ruble and fluctuate accordingly. Furthermore, remittances account for a significant source of income for many Central Asians, and sanctions on Russia are slowing the flow of remittances and drastically devaluing the funds that are flowing back to their home countries.
Tajikistan is particularly suffering from the consequences of the invasion. The World Bank estimates that labor migration is the main source of income in Tajikistan, accounting for approximately 27% of GDP. The disruption of these revenue streams is causing enormous economic issues for families who rely on the remittances.
Furthermore, the official currency, the somoni, has lost about 20-45% of its value against the dollar depending on the day. Although similar struggles are ongoing in several Central Asian countries, there are several factors at play in Tajikistan which paint a particularly bleak economic picture when compared to its neighbors:
As the somoni is drastically devalued, inflation is spiraling. Gas, groceries, and a plethora of goods and services are becoming substantially more expensive at a time when incomes from remittances are decreasing.
Transport routes for Tajik laborers have been diverted, making the spring migration of workers more difficult and probably more expensive. 30 weekly flights between Tajikistan and Russia were terminated on March 9. Remittances are expected to fall by 22% in 2022.
Tajik banks are tied to Russian banks, and international companies are unable to send dollars. Regardless, the policies of the national bank discourage currency conversions with notes that hold higher values.
A law enacted in 2016 mandates all foreign cash transfers must be paid in somoni to businesses and individuals in Tajikistan.
In 2019, the National Bank enacted policies which forced remittances to be sent through its national processing center. This has largely been seen as blatant corruption, and the regulators are thought to be skimming a percentage of each transfer.
Tajikistan’s ability to enact monetary policies is drastically limited by a lack of foreign reserves and significant debt.
ANALYSIS: Our analysis indicates the Taliban may soon have to contend with a belligerent neighbor in full economic freefall on their northern border. If the Tajik government stumbles, it is likely that groups in the Pamir region will seek to capitalize on the chaos and launch an effort to break away from the state. The Taliban could be drawn into the conflict either covertly or openly given their close ties with groups in the Pamir region. Furthermore, the regional economic slump could further hinder Afghanistan’s development prospects.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 86.66 AFN (as of 16 MAR 2022)
By Bakhtar News Agency
The senior UN official said the purpose of his visit to Kabul is to discuss further assistance to the IDPs and to work with the…
By Ahmad Sohaib Hasrat – Pajhwok Afghan News
Police have seized 2,000 bulletproof vests and arrested four individuals in limits of the 4th police district of…
By TOLO News
The jirga participants said a ‘republican’ system should be established in Afghanistan in line with…
By The World Bank
Abdullah* used to be a police officer, but now farms his own land in Paktia province in the east of…
By Najibullah Lalzoy – Khaama Press
Turkey’s “Kindness Train” coordinated by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) that…
By Pajhwok Afghan News
The four men on motorcycles stabled the Afghan students and robbed them of their mobile phones in the…
By Bakhtar News Agency
Turkmenistan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has announced that Sardar Berdymukhamedov has won its…
By Jeff Seldin – VOA
More than six months after the U.S. pulled its last troops from Afghanistan, the threat from the…
By Peter Mansoor – The Hoover Institution
The United States has lost its longest war. After twenty years of conflict and nation building in Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed…
The Absurdity of the Day
By Tamim Shaheer – TOLO News
According to the ministry, consultations are ongoing with different ministries about the ordinary and…