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Daily Evacuation Brief | March 31, 2022
LAST 24 HOURS:
Taliban security forces reportedly killed five men suspected of operating a kidnapping gang in Nangarhar province. No further information is available.
Voice of America began broadcasting programming to Afghanistan despite the Taliban ban. “VOA Afghanistan” is on the Yahsat Y-1A satellite (52.2 degrees East), Transponder 12 (downlink frequency 11.938 GHz), Channel 469. The Yahsat satellite is Afghanistan’s most popular platform, ensuring the Afghan audience will have access to VOA’s programming despite Taliban censorship.
An evacuation flight via Ariana Airlines departed Kabul for Qatar. Representatives of the government announced that regularly scheduled flights would begin again with a target of two flights per week. As more information becomes available, we will share it.
Significant Taliban troop movements were reported across the country in what appears to be a coordinated response to clashes in the north with resistance forces. At-risk Afghans should be aware of these movements and take appropriate precautions while traveling.
NEXT 24 HOURS:
The international conference on aid for Afghanistan will begin in the UK with a focus on securing financial commitments from nations to aid the humanitarian crisis.
The “Troika” conference in China is expected to conclude with several announcements about multilateral initiatives to promote security and stability in the region.
SPOTLIGHT ANALYSIS: The Taliban’s Descent Into the Horrors of the Past
For a while, the world was hopeful about the Taliban 2.0. Their policies, though loathsome, were not nearly as extreme as those of the 1990s regime. However, these hopes have been dashed repeatedly over the past few weeks as they slip back into old habits. The Taliban barred girls from secondary schools, required male guardians for women while traveling, banned most foreign press and all foreign dramas, segregated government workers and amusement park attendees, threatened male civil servants without beards and turbans, burned instruments in public, and decapitated mannequins for show. To top it off, it now appears the Taliban plan to crack down on internet access, cutting off Afghan citizens’ connection with the outside world (see Whispers 003).
These policies are a repetition of the Taliban’s hardline rule from two decades ago. The Afghan Digest often highlights the divisions between the old and new guard of the Taliban. The developments of the last few weeks make it clear that the more hardline old guard are now firmly taking the lead.
The move to stricter policies is not by accident. The Taliban’s highly conservative supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is intentionally moving away from more moderate policies and steering the Taliban regime back to the 1990s model. A recent meeting of Taliban leadership in Kandahar resulted in a consensus to drive forward more conservative policies, hence the last minute change on girls’ education, the introduction of stricter rules, and the harsher enforcement of pre-existing ones.
Disagreements between factions will continue to fester under the surface, which is particularly dangerous for the Taliban’s stability as there are some signs the spring fighting season may be beginning (read Whispers 004 on Monday, April 4th for more details).
The move toward more extreme policies is also dangerous for the Taliban’s future on multiple levels. In addition to further endangering the economic, security, and development situation (see Anatomy of a Crisis 003), this decision deepens Afghanistan’s isolation from the international community, lowering the chances of recognition and generosity with aid money. This will most negatively affect Afghans that are most in need.
However, sources within the Taliban say Akhundzada seems unfazed by recent international condemnation and unrest among citizens. If the regime does shut down or heavily restrict the internet as feared, it will be a clear and irreversible signal of the Taliban’s full descent back into the dark times of the 1990s.
Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 88.54 AFN (as of 31 MAR 2022)
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