Biden’s retreat from Kabul and the entirety of Afghanistan in the face of the Taliban’s surprise takeover is far more about China and Russia than it is about the Taliban.
After all, up until the Taliban seized American weaponry, they appeared to be a rag tag group Islamic radicals. America’s retreat has enabled the Islamists the appearance of being in control, but they are merely pawns in a greater game being played out between Russia and China.
Both Russia and China have similar interests in Afghanistan. Besides the mineral wealth, both want to ensure that Islamic radicals do not spill over into their countries or even spheres of influence and are hoping to manage Afghanistan through internal players. China has a third interest and that is to encircle India and strengthen Pakistan – a key part of their Belt and Road Initiative.
The coming conflict between the Northern Alliance gathering in Panjshir Valley and the Taliban can best be seen through the Russia-China prism. The Chinese as they have been are backing the Taliban and Russia is funneling weapons, other supplies, and money to the Tajik dominated Northern Alliance through Tajikistan.
Although the Taliban has more soldiers, Panjshir Valley has never been conquered due to its fortress like terrain. The outcome between these two forces is not for certain.
What is for certain, is that the West is fast being left out of the strategic corridor – leaving India increasingly isolated to a resurgent Russia and hegemonic China. Without an American backed force to the West of China, the CCP can focus its energy on Taiwan and Japan.