Topics: News about Afghanistan, volunteer Afghan evac groups, P-2 program for Afghans, ANDSF officers stuck in India, TTP cdr killed, Central Asia and the Taliban, Kazakhstan SOF, Catholics abandoned in EHC, humanitarian aid, movies, podcasts, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, and more.
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Evacuation from Afghanistan
Volunteer Groups Continue the Work in the Absence of DoS. Volunteers receive images and videos every day of Afghans, including children, executed at the hands of the Taliban. There are many Afghan Evac volunteer groups of veterans who organized ad hoc methods of evacuating Afghans during the Kabul NEO and who have continued that work after August 31st. Operation North Star and Operation 620 are two of these groups. Read up on how they are assisting Afghans at-risk. “Volunteers Scramble to Rescue Afghan Allies Abandoned by U.S. State Department“, by Beth Bailey, The Federalist, January 13, 2022.
P-2 Program for Afghans? Not Working. A very small amount of the thousands of at-risk Afghans who have applied for a program for refugee admission to the United States. In August 2021 the State Department announced that at-risk Afghans ineligible for the Special Immigrant Visa program could seek refugee status under a new Priority 2 designation. This P-2 refugee program was set up to assist Afghans, however it is very difficult to actually be considered and then be evacuated. As of January 2022 the State Department has received about 12,000 referrals to the Afghan P-2 refugee resettlement program. “Few Afghan Refugees Relocating to US Under ‘P-2’ Program”, Voice of America, January 12, 2022.
Time for a New Lily Pad? The disagreement between Qatar officials and the Taliban on the resumption of Qatar Airways flights that evacuate at-risk Afghans from Kabul is still ongoing. It has been over a month since the Department of State sanctioned flights have left Kabul for Doha carrying AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans with current passports and valid visas. Meanwhile, Afghans who risked their lives supporting U.S. military forces in Afghanistan during its 20-year involvement are facing a harsh winter, failed economy, and a life on the run hiding from the persecution of the Taliban. Perhaps DoS should not have put all their eggs in one basket – that being Qatar Airways and the U.S. base in Qatar. Why not reopen the transit base that was established at Ramstein Air Base in Germany? And find another airline acceptable to the Taliban to fly the Kabul – Ramstein route. If necessary, use another country as a ‘stop-over’ and switch out aircraft. It is way past time for the Department of State to figure this out.
Afghan Evacuee Resettlement
Catholic Families Stuck in UAE Camp. Hundreds of Christian families are lodged at the Emirate Humanitarian City in the United Arab Emirates. Most have no pathway to final destination. Among them are some Catholic families who are losing hope. “Catholic refugees from Afghanistan in ‘purgatory’ waiting for visas”, by Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, January 16, 2022.
ANDSF Officers – Living in India with an Uncertain Future. Over 180 officers of the former Afghan National Defense and Security Forces held a protest in front of the India External Affairs Ministry. They had been attending Indian military courses when the Afghan regime collapsed. Now they face an uncertain future. “Former ANDSF Officers in India Hold Demonstration“, Tolo News, January 13, 2022.
Afghanistan and Regional Update
Ex-Officials are Not Welcome. A Taliban leader said that former government officials cannot be included in the Islamic Emirate cabinet because of their corrupt background. Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Baradar had a few other things to say about international recognition, the economic crisis, and educational opportunities for girls. “No Place for Ex-Officials in Cabinet: Mullah Baradar”, Tolo News, January 4, 2022.
TTP Cdr Killed. A militant alliance fighting the government of Pakistan has confirmed that one of its top leaders was killed in Afghanistan in early January. Khalid Balti, a member of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, was killed in Nangarhar. He had been arrested by Afghan security forces in 2015 and imprisoned. He was released by the Taliban in August 2021 as the Taliban took control of the Afghan prisons. “Pakistani Taliban Confirm Killing of Wanted Senior Commander in Afghanistan”, Voice of America, January 13, 2022.
Taliban Victory Aids Pakistan Militant Group. The Pakistani Taliban has intensified its attacks within Pakistan in recent months. Many believe that the Tehrik-e Taliban have become emboldened since the events of August 2021. Some observers think that the TTP is a close ideological and organizational ally to the Taliban regime in Kabul. “Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan Bolsters Pakistan’s Insurgency”, Gandara Blog, January 13, 2022.
Taliban Relations with CA States. With the new Taliban regime in power, the countries on Afghanistan’s norther border have concerns of a spillover of terrorism into their territories. “Taliban threats to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Underline Tension Between Militant Group and Central Asian Neighbors”, Gandara Blog, January 14, 2022.
Kazakhstan to Create SOF Units. The recent internal crisis in Kazakhstan has prompted the nation to accelerate efforts to establish a special operations force. The security situation had gotten bad enough that Russia sent in forces as part of the Collection Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). “Kazakh President Tokayev orders creation of special operations forces in wake of mass protests”, Aninews.in, January 15, 2022.
Earthquake in Badghis Province. A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck in Qadis district in Western Afghanistan on January 17, 2022. The quake was felt in Badghis, Ghor, and Herat provinces. Over 25 people were reported killed and hundreds of homes destroyed. (Humanitarian Response, Jan 18, 2022)
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
US Aid – Going to Taliban? Some nonprofit rescue groups are warning that the hundreds of millions of dollars that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing Afghanistan will be going into the wrong hands. “US Afghanistan aid going directly to Taliban, nonprofits warn”, Fox News, January 13, 2022.
IEA Wants Aid ‘Coordination’. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has created a committee called the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Committee (HACC) and is asking the international community to coordinate aid with the committee. “IEA asks Intl-Community to coordinate aids with them”, Khaama Press, January 13, 2022. Read also “Taliban propose joint body to coordinate distribution of foreign aid”, Reuters, January 13, 2022.
Paying Taxes. The Ministry of Finance has called on Afghan citizens to pay their taxes on time. Accusations were made that the previous regime was not diligent in collecting taxes due to corruption. “Afghans Who Can Pay Taxes Should Support the Nation”, Tolo News, January 15, 2022.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
Afghanistan – Out of Sight and Mind. A stunning plunge in coverage about Afghanistan – just as a humanitarian crisis is developing – has taken place. Since September, the evening news programs of the three dominant U.S. television networks – ABC, NBC, and CBS – have collectively devoted a grand total of 21 minutes to Afghanistan. Jim Lobe provides a detailed analysis of the news coverage on Afghanistan over the past year in “Out of sight, out of mind: Afghanistan vanishes from US news”, Responsible Statecraft, December 29, 2021.
Afghanistan, Movies, and Combat. Brian Thompson has served as an infantryman in Afghanistan, taught public school, and worked for the Veterans Affairs. He is now pursuing a master of fine arts in screenwriting at Boston University. He provides his perspective on Hollywood movies and his combat tour in Afghanistan in “Movies Don’t Prepare You for What Happens When the Action Dies Down”, The War Horse, January 12, 2022.
How Australia Got Into the Afghan War. An unveiling of 20-year-old government documents provides some inside information on how the Aussies began their two-decade involvement in the Afghanistan conflict. “Cabinet papers chronicle start of Australia’s long Afghanistan War”, by Graeme Dobell, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), January 17, 2022.
Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos
Podcast – LL’s Military Contractors in Afghanistan. Nearly half of defense spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan went to private contractors. A podcast sheds some light on the for-profit defense businesses and how much money the government sends their way. Listen to “The Lessons Learned From America’s Reliance on Military Contractors in Afghanistan”, National Public Radio, January 12, 2022, 29 minutes.
Podcast – Pakistan’s Long Game. Owen Bennett-Jones examines the long game Pakistan played in the US defeat in Afghanistan. How Pakistan played the long game and achieved its goal of defeating the world’s biggest military power. “With the help of America the ISI defeated America.” BBC Radio, January 4, 2022, 37 minutes.
Photo: Afghan evacuees learn about American grocery stores during a commissary walk-through at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 10, 2022. Photo by Army PFC Anthony Sanchez.