UNICRI and the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (EU CTC) held a closed online expert-level meeting to discuss security threats in Afghanistan and their implications for Central Asia and beyond on 1 December 2022.
Altogether, 25 representatives from key United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) agencies actively working in humanitarian, development, peace, and security-related areas took part in the event, which was an opportunity to: a) Present the preliminary findings of UNICRI's threat assessment and trend alert report 'The Taliban in Afghanistan: Assessing New Threats to the Region and Beyond', which was published on 25 October 2022; b) Identify and discuss the security implications of the Afghan crisis for neighbouring countries and the EU, as well as the potential evolution of such risks; and c) Explore how the international community can address emerging trends and security threats stemming from terrorism and organized crime in the country and the region.
UNICRI discussed five major trends with potential regional and global implications outlined in the threat assessment published in October. These include intra-Taliban fragmentation; the prevalence of regional and global terrorist groups; rising anti-Taliban resistance; thriving illicit economy and drug trade; and large-scale movements of people.
The presentation focused on how a significant number of terrorist and violent extremist groups are expanding their presence across Afghanistan with the complicity of the Taliban. Many of these groups are directly or indirectly involved in large-scale organized criminal activities, which provide key financial resources to fund their operations. These include the narcotics trade, arms smuggling, illicit mining, human trafficking and smuggling, and wildlife crimes.
Despite their rise to power, the Taliban are deeply divided, making them unable to pursue a unified course of action on any major issue. Factional and ideological divergences have turned the once unified Taliban movement into a loose conglomerate of various actors, pursuing often conflicting agendas. Conflict within the Taliban has serious ramifications for security in Afghanistan and the region and could further catalyse transnational terrorism, violent extremism, and organized crime.
The presentation and analysis of these trends led the way to a discussion on pressing issues about Afghanistan's current security and humanitarian context.
This initiative is a prelude to a more comprehensive report scheduled for January 2023, which will provide actionable recommendations to guide the design of an integrated programme for neighbouring countries.
Photo: @Mohammad Husaini