US scratches off Afghanistan from allies list
The US has ended Afghanistan’s status as ‘major non-NATO ally’, President Joe Biden announced on Friday. The move comes one year after America’s botched military withdrawal from the country, as the Taliban overthrew the Western-backed government in Kabul.
“I hereby terminate the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States for the purposes of the [Foreign Assistance] Act and the Arms Export Control Act,” Biden wrote in a memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, referring to legislation regulating foreign military sales and economic aid.
The US designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally in 2012. The status indicates that Washington has a close relationship with the country and provides it with certain benefits in defense trade and security cooperation. It does not mean, however, that the US would be obliged to protect the nation from any attacks.
As things currently stand, the US has more than a dozen major non-NATO allies across several continents, including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, and New Zealand.
Biden’s decision to rescind the designation for Afghanistan comes after the Taliban swept into Kabul in August 2021 and took control of the capital. The takeover occurred after the Biden administration announced that it would end the military presence in the Middle Eastern country. After the Islamist group took control of the city, the US completed the withdrawal of its troops, which was widely regarded as “chaotic.”
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), during the 20-year US-led international military presence in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, Washington has provided Kabul with almost $73 billion in security assistance. At the same time, according to Biden, the US spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan.