US designates two ‘major non-NATO allies’
US President Joe Biden designated Qatar and Colombia as major non-NATO allies of the US on Thursday, a special status that will grant the two nations defense and trade privileges in their relations with Washington.
“The Major Non-NATO Ally designation is a powerful symbol of the close relationship the United States shares with those countries and demonstrates our deep respect for the friendship for the countries to which it is extended,” the US Department of State explained.
The major non-NATO ally status has been granted to over 15 nations around the world. It provides US partners with economic privileges such as loans, cooperative research, and even exclusive defense contracts with NATO countries. The status, however, does not entail any security commitments to the designated countries.
After his country was designated a major non-NATO ally, Colombian President Ivan Duque thanked the US and president Biden for “taking the bilateral relationship to [its] highest.”
Although the Biden Administration made a pledge to grant the special status to Qatar back in January, the decision comes only now amid rising concerns over growing fuel prices due to Washington imposing a ban on Russia’s energy supplies.
Biden’s move to upgrade the partnership with Doha is a U-turn from his predecessor’s unfriendly policy towards the Gulf country. Led by Donald Trump, the previous Republican administration not only accused Qatar of financing international terrorism but also supported the economic blockade of the Arab nation by its neighbors.
Earlier, there were reports that Washington allegedly failed to negotiate an energy production increase with its Gulf allies since Saudi Arabia and the UAE ignored President Biden’s phone calls.