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News   Defense News

'Major Non-NATO Ally' Designation Will Enhance U.S., Qatar Relationship

Jan. 31, 2022 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

During a meeting today with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, President Joe Biden indicated plans to nominate Qatar as a "major non-NATO ally" for the United States. The designation will change the way the United States and its military interact with that country, said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby. 

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"It does open up a full new range of opportunities: exercises, operations and you know, perhaps, the ... acquisition of capabilities as well," Kirby told reporters during a briefing today at the Pentagon. 

The Amir also met today with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon. 

At night, smoke trails indicate the path of missiles that have been launched.  They and the salutes of combat vehicles are illuminated by the ignition of other rockets.
Night Sky
U.S. and Qatari artillery fire lit up the night sky at Umm Hawta, Qatar, on April 3, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Linsey Williams, National Guard
VIRIN: 190403-Z-EZ001-1094

"The secretary reiterated his heartfelt gratitude to the Amir's indispensable and, quite frankly, ongoing support to our efforts to continue to get Americans and our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan," Kirby said. 

The two leaders, he said, discussed shared regional security interests including de-escalating tensions in the region, countering terrorism and the threats represented by Iran. 

Multiple military aircraft fly in formation against a blue sky.
In Formation
Qatari Emiri Air Force’s Mirage 2000s and Rafales fly in formation alongside U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles during the Qatar-U.S. Air Forces Central Command Friendship event over Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Aug. 24, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Lauren Parsons
VIRIN: 200824-F-XF990-0183

"Secretary Austin shared his vision for integrated deterrence, emphasizing the importance of multilateral efforts and integrated operations with partners like Qatar, to address threats confronting the region," Kirby said. 

According to the U.S. State Department, a designation as major non-NATO ally, or MNNA, serves as "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." 

A military vehicle with rocket-launchers on the back sits in the desert.
Exercise Ready
Staged for a live-fire exercise at Umm Hawta, Qatar, were two High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers. Members of Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery, North Carolina National Guard traveled in a C-17 aircraft of the Qatari Emiri Air Force to land in Qatar and participate in a joint live-fire exercise with the Qatari Emiri Land Forces who fired their Artillery Saturation Rocket System during exercise Al Adheed 2019, hosted by the Qatari Emiri Land Forces, April 3, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Linsey Williams, National Guard
VIRIN: 190403-Z-EZ001-1134

Nations with the MNNA designation are eligible to, among other things, host U.S. war reserve stockpiles of material inside their countries. Private companies within those nations are also eligible to bid on contracts to maintain, repair or overhaul U.S. military equipment. Those nations can also enter into agreements with the United States for training. 

More than 15 nations, including, but not limited to Australia, Bahrain, Japan, Kuwait, and the Philippines, are currently designated as major non-NATO allies by the United States.