The 23rd of October, 2014 marked the handover of the last U.S. Marine Corps base to Afghan control. During the ceremony, Camp Leatherneck, along with British-run Camp Bastion, were handed over to Afghan forces, marking the close of the NATO and allied mission in Regional Command Southwest, overseeing Helmand and Nimroz provinces. On 28 December, 2014, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell, handed over control of the mission to Afghan forces.

By 2016, it is expected that the only U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be at the embassy in Kabul. Now that U.S. focus seems to have turned toward ISIS, training the Iraqi military, and other parts of the globe, many are asking what’s next for Afghanistan, and should anyone care? To me, the answer is yes, the world should care, and what’s next might include a bid (albeit a quiet one) for regional influence from both China and Russia. But given Afghanistan’s history, current internal strife, and use as a breeding and operations base for terrorism, is any endeavor into the region worth it?

Between 27 and 28 April, 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) wrested political power from the legitimate Afghan government in what became known as the Saur (from the Dari word “taurus,” the second month of the Persian calendar in which the event took place) Revolution. After declaring that, in keeping with its socialist ideology, women were to be granted equal rights in everything from voting to education, the new government then changed the national flag from the traditional Islamic green to a flaming-red flag that was an almost exact copy of the Soviet one.

As the influence of communism became more and more apparent, the U.S. embassy in Kabul sent a cable to Washington that read, “What the British first, and later the Americans, tried to prevent for a hundred years has happened: the Russian Bear has moved south of the Hindu Kush.” Soon after, on 24 December, 1979, and under direct orders from Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the Russian 40th Army crossed the border and seized Kabul.