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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 19, 2022
LAST 24 HOURS:
Taliban reinforcements arrived in Panjshir province. Sources indicate the majority of reinforcements were portioned out to strengthen road checkpoints. Vehicle searches are reputed to be much more intensive after the recent clashes in the area. Sources opined the new recruits appear to be very “jumpy” and warn against travel for the time being. Sources also stated there was a lot of visible hazing of the new recruits by the older guards. This phenomenon has been reported elsewhere and seems to be reflective of the generational divide in the Taliban’s new army. The newer recruits are thought to be better educated and more adept with technology than the older recruits and this is causing resentment.
Four children were killed when a mortar shell they were playing with exploded in the Shah Walikot district of Kandahar.
Work resumed on two sections of the Durand Line briefly, but observers stated the Pakistan engineers halted work and evacuated the area. There has been no explanation for the work stoppage.
Conflicting reports surfaced about several TOLO employees who were arrested on 17 March and are believed to have been released. The confusion stemmed from friends and colleagues claiming a TOLO anchor was still being held after announcements on the anchor’s own social media accounts said he was released. As of 1900hrs EDT it seems the journalists have been released.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
A mass cyber email phishing campaign has been targeting email users based in and engaged with Afghanistan. We recommend creating a Proton Mail account to maintain communications going forward.
A column of Taliban vehicles containing approximately 40 vehicles and roughly 200 fighters was reported moving to Herat. We have had no news of any threat in Herat, but at-risk Afghans would be wise to remain alert.
Turkey’s call for Taliban acceptance… and what that means.
CONTEXT: NATO member Turkey’s recent call to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) as a legitimate government was not completely surprising, but it does suggest other governments and international institutions are warming to the idea.
DISCUSSION: Some Afghans have opined that life is better under the Taliban, stating that the streets are safer and there are far less killings than during the previous regime. With the war ended and a reduction of the amount of citizens that the Taliban is murdering, the decrease in violence is logical. However, as the primary former aggressors, it seems odd that the Taliban should be praised for the reduction in violence. The former regime was not innocent, but the majority of civilian deaths can be directly attributed to the Taliban and violence from their insurgency.
Data taken from the UNAMA annual report for 2020 provides a breakdown of the 8,820 civilian casualties for the year. Even at an appalling 8,820 casualties, 2020 actually had one of the lowest civilian casualty rates of the decade, reflecting the level of devastation from the conflict over the past 2 decades.
The first half of 2021 set a half year-record for civilian casualties, and violence only picked up as the Taliban advanced. Figures are still coming in for the chaotic months after the Taliban takeover, but it is unlikely accurate numbers will ever emerge due to the difficulty of recording accurate data.
However, the current situation can be summarized as follows:
Those who were directly responsible for the bulk of the carnage are now in charge and face no organized opposition.
The public is shell-shocked from the rapid disintegration of a two-decade democracy plan and remains unorganized.
Regional actors who participated in the chaos are now acting as cheerleaders.
Aid agencies desperate to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis have bowed to the new reality out of necessity.
Superpowers who are desperate to keep the Taliban focused inward and stop any potential export of terrorism to their borders are signaling tentative support.
In addition, the IEA claims to have eradicated ISIS-K, disowned the TTP, and face no opposition from resistance groups. This is great propaganda to disseminate within Afghanistan, but remains untrue.
Furthermore, they are dramatically failing on many of the key standards that new governments face when seeking a seat at the table: gender equality, religious freedom, economic growth, elections and representation, respect of privacy, and amnesty.
Proponents of the IEA argue that 8 months of good behavior should be enough to merit international acceptance, while the IEA continues to make grand proclamations about progress and freedom. However, their actions undermine these claims.
ANALYSIS: We are disappointed in Turkey’s recent support for recognition, regardless of whatever background factors they can use to justify their response. We do not believe other members of NATO will follow suit. China and Russia, desperate to distract from the Ukraine quagmire they have jointly created, will almost certainly echo Ankara’s call soon. Select Gulf States will also voice support in the coming days. However, where it all leads is unclear at this point.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 87.18 AFN (as of 20 MAR 2022)
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