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US pushing to make Qatar a non-NATO ally

Qatar may be named as a non-NATO ally [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2020

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"We're going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non-NATO ally," a senior US official told reporters

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Qatar, US, Gulf
The United States is working to name Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, a status that allows foreign nations with benefits in defence trade and security cooperation, a senior US official announced on Thursday.

"We're going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non-NATO ally," Timothy Lenderking, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf affairs, said in a conference call with reporters..

Top American and Qatari officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met in Washington earlier this week.

Read also: GCC crisis explained: Why is Qatar under blockade by Saudi Arabia and its allies?

“Major non-NATO ally” (MNNA) status gives a country favourable access to US military equipment and technology, including free surplus material, expedited export processing, along with prioritised cooperation on training.

Qatar's Government Communications Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Currently, 17 non-NATO countries have MNNA status. Qatar will become the third Gulf Arab state to acquire the status, after Kuwait and Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Qatar is currently in a regional spat with some Gulf neighbours and Egypt, which the US has consistently expressed a desire to solve.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties with Doha in 2017, accusing it of backing "terrorists" and being too close to Iran - charges Qatar strongly denies.

In July Qatar won a ruling at the International Court of Justice regarding airspace restrictions imposed by the blockading countries.

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