International relations experts, retired military look ahead to future of US-Afghanistan relations

Afghanistan airport explosion
Posted at 11:20 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 23:20:37-04

As the United States continues its mission to evacuate Americans and refugees from Afghanistan, experts are also looking at what foreign relations may look like with the country in the weeks and years to come.

“I guess the endpoint of the 20-year US military occupation of Afghanistan is finishing on a tragic note, and that is unfortunately indicative of those 20 years,” said Dr. Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi, an assistant professor at USF’s School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies. “There’s been a lot of tragic moments in the past two decades.”

On relations in the country moving forward, Dr. Jimenez-Bacardi explains there’s a lot of uncertainty there. He says if the current Taliban coalition is anything like they were in the 1990s, they’re going to be isolated internationally.

“It seems like the Taliban want some international legitimacy, in part because now after 20 years of fighting, they want to govern, and if you want to govern, you’re going to need some kind of legitimacy, and the expectations of most Afghans are a lot higher than they were in the 1990s,” said Jimenez-Bacardi. “Now, I think they’re going to have a very difficult time to get the United States to recognize the Taliban or to freeze some of those Afghan government assets to the Taliban or to remove sanctions against Taliban officials, so it’s going to be difficult for them.”

Jimenez-Bacardi also explained with the United States, there’s always going to be significant tensions because even though the US is withdrawing its local forces, he says it’s not going to end military operations in Afghanistan.

“I think there’s no doubt that the US is going to go after ISIS individuals and Al-Qaeda individuals, and any time that’s going to happen, of course, it will be without the permission of the new Taliban government, and so tensions will flare up as a result of that use of force,” said Dr. Jimenez-Bacardi.

Calls continue to evacuate and help Afghan refugees who aided the United States over the last two decades. Retired Army Colonel DJ Reyes shared his perspective as someone that’s been in Afghanistan.

“When you’re in a country and you occupy another country and you’re with the indigenous population and you’re working amongst the people in that population and they’re supporting you and hosting you and soldiers like me were able to come back home, I feel we have a moral obligation to do everything within our means to support them as they’re trying to escape the tyranny of the Taliban,” said Reyes.