WASHINGTON – President Biden said on Monday that he would refer to Qatar as the “major non-NATO ally” of the United States, a designation that would clear the way for greater investment and security cooperation in the Gulf nation. at a time when Mr. Biden is seeking help boosting natural gas supplies in Europe.
The president is eager to reassure European nations that they will not be short of natural gas if war breaks out between Ukraine and Russia in the coming weeks. Russia is one of the largest suppliers of natural gas to Germany and other countries in Western Europe.
Biden’s comments on Monday came ahead of a meeting at the White House with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar. Addressing the press, the President praised the relationship between the two countries over the past half century on issues such as Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the fight against the Islamic State.
“I am informing Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of our relationship,” Biden said. “I think it’s long overdue.”
Only 18 other countries have been granted that status by US presidents. They include Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Thailand, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Argentina, Taiwan, Afghanistan and Tunisia. Former President Donald Trump empowered Brazil in 2019.
Attributing “major non-NATO ally” status to a country does not guarantee that the United States will stand to defend that country in the event of an attack. That guarantee – outlined in Article 5 of the treaty establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – is limited to the full members of the union.
However, the designation would give Qatar more diplomatic prestige and access to technology, security systems and training of US defense forces that it did not have before. The move is often used to push countries toward closer ties with the United States and other Western nations.
In the case of Qatar, Mr. Biden hopes to deepen economic and security ties. In his speech on Monday, the president welcomed the announcement by the Qatar Airways CEO of a $34 billion deal to buy planes from Boeing. Mr. Biden said the deal would support tens of thousands of jobs in the United States.
But the simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a more immediate concern for Mr. Biden, who is seeking to maintain unity with America’s European allies behind threats of sanctions against Russia if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade.
Concerns about Russia’s ability to restrict the flow of natural gas to Europe could undermine that unity, and White House officials have said they are working with other countries around the world to offer advice. reassure European leaders if that happens.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/us/politics/biden-qatar-major-non-nato-ally.html Biden will designate Qatar as main ally outside of NATO