US likely to name Qatar as major non-Nato ally

Updated 18 Sep 2020

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A number of officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, met in Washington earlier this week. — Reuters
A number of officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani, met in Washington earlier this week. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: The United States hopes to move forward with naming Qatar as a major non-Nato ally, a status that provides foreign nations with benefits in defence trade and security cooperation, a senior official said 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 Gulf affairs, told reporters in a conference call.

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

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

Currently 17 countries have MNNA status, including Kuwait and Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Qatar, host of the largest US military facility in the Middle East, has been locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

US officials have recently expressed a desire to sell the F-35 stealth war plane to the UAE after it agreed last month to normalise ties with Israel.

However, Israeli officials have objected, citing US policy for Israel to maintain a military advantage in the region.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020