In a second day of fighting the Taliban lost over 50 men against Ahmad Massoud’s National Resistance Front (NRF) located in the well fortified Panjshir Valley.
As I wrote yesterday, Indian sources are reporting that the NRF headed by Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh are being unofficially backed by Russian President Putin through the former Soviet state of Tajikistan in order to check the Chinese backed Taliban.
The historically unconquerable Panjshir Valley coupled with the weapons and supplies from Russia has turned the prospects of a Taliban sweep around. The heavily Tajik province has been known to resist foreign invaders as the Hindu-Kush mountains give it a natural defense.
Ahmad Massoud is the son of the famed Shah Massoud who led both anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban campaigns before being assassinated.
While it is not clear what the end game is of the current conflict – one thing is for sure, Biden’s underhanded dealings with the Taliban in hopes of having a seat at the post American occupied Afghanistan may be both premature and the wrong play at this time.
Russia may not have the global control it once had during the Soviet times, but it cannot risk allowing the Chinese backed Taliban to push its extremist philosophy into Tajikistan and even Russia itself. Putin is willing to back the resistance if it can hold the Taliban in check.
While it seems doubtful the Taliban will take over Panjshir, it is equally doubtful that without an intervention the NRF will be able to win back the country in the near future. What appears to be most likely is a stalemate and dueling claims to rightful representation of Afghanistan – similar to China and Taiwan.
After all of these years, Afghanistan continues to be the battleground no invader can conquer for long and more often than not the land that ends empires. as we have seen both in the break up of the Soviet Union shortly after the end of the Soviet Afghanistan war and the current collapse of America.