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With Afghanistan, control is much harder than victory


The Taliban taking charge of Afghanistan is likely to significantly destabilize the wider region, as the various militant threats will be hard to manage.

While some of Afghanistan’s neighbours – China and Iran particularly, along with Russia – may enjoy the West’s discomfort, the Taliban’s takeover is unlikely to fill them with optimism for the longer-term.

All the neighbouring states have specific concerns regarding the threat of cross-border militancy, and each of them is known to have reached out to the Taliban as the US withdrawal approached, in the hope of strengthening their leverage.

Both China and India worry about Muslim minorities, in Xinjiang and Kashmir respectively, Russia worries about the threat to stability in Central Asia, Pakistan – despite nurturing the Taliban – fears blowback from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and Iran questions the extent to which the Taliban has toned down its hostility towards Shias.

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