Washington, MINA – The United States hopes to move forward with its plan to make Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, a status that benefits allies in purchasing military equipment and security cooperation with Washington, a senior US official said on Thursday.
“We will move forward, we hope, Qatar becomes our major non-NATO ally,” Timothy Lenderking, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Gulf Affairs, told reporters during conference talks, Al Jazeera reported.
The US and Qatari officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, met in Washington, DC earlier this week.
The status of a major non-NATO ally (or MNNA) grants preferential access to US military equipment and technology, including free surplus material, accelerated non-export, and priority cooperation in training.
Currently, 17 countries have MNNA status, including Kuwait and Bahrain, the Arab Gulf states, which have the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Qatar, which hosts the largest the US military facility in the Middle East, has been in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.
The quartet is considering Qatar cutting diplomatic, economic and transport ties because they accuse Qatar of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar is stubborn at all these accusations.
Washington, which has strong ties to all the countries involved in the dispute, sees the rift as a threat to the Trump administration to contain Iranian influence.
News of a possible MNNA designation for Qatar comes after the two Gulf states, Bahrain and the UAE, a normalization agreement with Israel brokered by the US that has been denounced by Palestinians as “treason”.
The US officials have recently expressed a desire to sell the F-35 stealth fighter to the UAE following the normalization agreement. However, Israeli officials stated, with reasons to maintain military superiority in the region.
Qatar has ruled out normalizing relations with Israel, saying that “cannot be the answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (T/R7/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)