Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

BSA: Misconceptions and Unrealistic Expectations

afghanistan and the US signed the Bilateral Security Agreement on September 30, 2014. This Agreement is considered as a framework for American troops to remain in Afghanistan and provides a strategic basis for improving the US-Afghan relations. 
Recently, some Wolsi Jirga members called for review of the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S. over deteriorating security situation in the country. It is not the first time that BSA implementation is under question, because many Afghans including the prominent politicians attribute the security deterioration in Afghanistan to the BSA with the U.S. As a result, it is necessary to have a realistic understanding of BSA and the mutual responsibilities that the US and Afghan government have in the Strategic Policy framework of BSA.
Based on the BSA the United States has designated Afghanistan as a major Non-NATO Ally. Based on such designation Afghanistan can participate in US. Defense Department research and development projects, preferential access to US military surplus supplies, the use of loans to finance weapons purchase, and expedited applications for space technology exports and the US provide $6 billion to the Afghan security forces annually . In addition to this, the designation has a powerful symbolic value for Afghanistan: It is a public affirmation of Afghanistan’s affiliation with the US, a global badge of American approval. However, this designation does not technically carry out a security guarantee or legally obligate the United Sates to come to defense of Afghanistan, label of “ally” only implies this.
One of the main criticisms of Afghan people and politicians of BSA is that MNNA is merely symbolic, and does not obligate the US to defend Afghanistan if attacked by a third party. Also, The Agreement won’t, however, be a help in any future U.S.-Iran war, as it expressly prohibits the U.S. from using Afghan territory to attack another country. So, when Afghanistan does not allow the US to attack any country from its soil, how it can expect the US to defend it, if attacked by a third party? Though Afghanistan is now in the same category as Japan, Australia, Israel, and Pakistan. However, the US has never supported Afghanistan as Japan or Israel. However, the the United States have been training and equipping the Afghan National Security Forces “consistent with NATO standards and promote interoperability with NATO forces.
Of course, the BSA provisions convey a relatively strong U.S. commitment to Afghan security. If BSA is implemented fully, it is envisioned that the Afghan Army could become one of the key developing-world partners and force-multipliers for U.S. and Western military forces in contingency and peacekeeping operations. Afghanistan could become a partner, providing the manpower for peacekeeping missions that Western nations are willing to fund but not man, in exchange for which the Afghans get valuable operational experience and funding.
Many Afghan people and politicians consider the BSA as a full-fledged mutual defense treaty.  They expect BSA obligates the United States to treat an attack on Afghanistan as an attack on itself.  And this is totally a wrong understanding and expectation from the BSA. It is difficult to envision Americans to accept a defense treaty that obligates US intervention in South Asia in perpetuity when most no longer welcome their actual intervention in Afghanistan to fight a war that three presidents have argued is vital to their national security. 
Generally, Afghan people consider the BSA very vital for Afghanistan security and economic stability. They assume it as a strategic framework they have been waiting for decades. It has provided a legal base for the presence of the US in Afghanistan that is vital to tackle the current challenges and help Afghanistan to reach a lasting peace.