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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 17, 2022
Open source daily news about Afghanistan and the surrounding region powered by Operation Snow Leopard
LAST 24 HOURS:
It is believed that over thirty former passport officials are being held on extortion charges, confirming previous reporting on the shakeup at the Afghan Passport Authority. Furthermore, the brother of the former Passport Director General was arrested in a hotel in Kabul with money, alcohol, and female companions.
Multiple police districts reported secondary searches over the last 24 hours. As witnessed over the past couple of days, individual houses that had previously been searched appeared to be targeted for follow up searches.
Taliban security forces encircled the Safi Landmark Hotel in Kabul. They were reportedly searching for former employees of a Western company who were thought to be lodged at the hotel and intending to flee the country. No further information is available at this time.
Unconfirmed reports of large clashes between “resistance troops” and the Taliban were reported in the Hisa-e-Awal, Panjshir. Photos of the purported incident showed large concentrations of Taliban fighters and a large fire raging near government buildings. At-risk Afghans are encouraged to avoid the area.
Several criminal incidents were reported over the last 24 hours:
A money changer was shot dead in the Kart-i-Parwan area of Kabul by unidentified gunmen.
In Logar province, unidentified gunmen abducted and murdered a young man in the Porak area.
Security forces killed one and arrested a second child abductor in the Puran area of Enjil district. The child was rescued, and the body of the dead kidnapper was put on public display.
The kidnappers of a boy abducted over a year ago have threatened to mutilate the child unless a ransom is paid.
An earthquake measuring 4.2 magnitude struck near Kandahar. Sources in Kandahar reported mild shaking in their homes. No damage has been reported.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
At-risk Afghans are encouraged to avoid traveling by road in Panjshir for the next 48 hours as sources indicate security is being increased at checkpoints with the intent of finding “resistance troops” who took part in possible gun battles near Hisa-e-Awal. Sources claimed that searches of vehicles and personnel will be extensive.
The Central Bank plans to auction an additional $12 million USD to bolster the national currency. This strategy appears to be working as the afghani has continued to make gains against the dollar for the past three months. The UN has reported sending nearly $500 million dollars to Afghanistan since the Taliban came into power.
Criminal activity continues to be reported across Afghanistan. The majority of crimes involve robbery and theft. However, kidnapping also continues to be a problem. At-risk Afghans should remain aware of their surroundings and avoid contact with strangers. As the humanitarian crisis deepens, crime will likely expand.
ANALYSIS SPOTLIGHT: The Taliban’s Duplicity
CONTEXT: Since coming to power, the Taliban 2.0 have sought to play a double game of appearing to make concessions to the international community with their domestic policies, while actually resorting to the same old bag of tricks they used during the Taliban 1.0 era.
DISCUSSION: In February 2022 many involved in the international aid effort began adopting a different tone regarding the Taliban 2.0. There was a marked shift as they began sacrificing principle for practicality. As the humanitarian crisis kicked into overdrive, aid agencies began walking back their demands about respecting women’s rights and seemingly looked the other way as the bodies of former Afghan army soldiers, activists, and government officials began to pile up. A handful of reports highlighted the ongoing atrocities or pointed out the dramatic backsliding in women’s rights. However, these concerns were often cast aside in favor of immediate action to address rampant hunger, unemployment, and a financial crisis of epic proportion.
While it is true that the Taliban have followed through on some of their promises such as allowing women in university, the general human rights situation remains very poor. Some areas where we see the most egregious violations are:
General Amnesty – Based on the very public continued persecution and murder of former officials and soldiers, the violation of this claim is self-evident.
Women – While many applauded the announcements made about access to education it is abundantly clear women will play little to no role under the Taliban 2.0. Just a few days ago the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice called for the segregation of offices and public transportation. Even when women are officially allowed in certain spheres, they are still often effectively barred from participation due to security concerns, mobility restrictions, or de facto Taliban crackdowns.
Unity/Fraternity – Ethnic minorities in the country have been relegated to second-class citizens, and profiling has become the norm at checkpoints and border crossings.
Religious Tolerance – The Shia minority, Christians, and practitioners of other religions claim they face daily persecution and are targets of the Taliban 2.0 and ISIS-K threats
ANALYSIS: The same scenario has played out multiple times in contemporary history with autocratic regimes who hold their population hostage and use them as leverage to political ends. With regard to Afghanistan, we feel that stakeholders and international leaders are caught in a catch-22. The strategies the international community have been forced to adopt appear to be the only humane options available at this time.
Targeted sanctions have little impact, as there are no super-yachts to impound for this group. A resistance fighter could be successful in eliminating a particularly nasty Taliban operative, but that operative would be quickly replaced. Supporting the Taliban’s overthrow would destabilize the country and result in additional suffering and violence. Withholding international recognition is probably the most effective tool now, but it will become less relevant as the Taliban’s unofficial relationships grow with its Central Asian neighbors, China, Russia, and more.
The bottom line is that withholding aid punishes those who need it most. The options are limited. The new Taliban regime always knew it would be a waiting game.
Observers should brace themselves for continued hypocrisy from the Taliban 2.0 and regression of individual rights. Unfortunately, the international community has little leverage to improve this situation, especially until the humanitarian and economic situation ameliorates.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 87.89 AFN (as of 17 MAR 2022)
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