Jan 31, 2022 - World

Biden to designate Qatar as major non-NATO ally

Biden and the Qatar emir

Biden shakes hands with the emir of Qatar in the Oval Office on Monday. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden announced Monday he will inform Congress of his intention to designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally "to reflect the importance of our relationship."

Why it matters: The designation "provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation," according to the State Department, and will entitle Qatar to a special status shared by just 16 other countries.

  • Relations between the U.S. and Qatar have strengthened significantly since Biden took office, marking a sharp turn away from the Trump administration's policy of favoring Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Bahrain and Kuwait are the only other Gulf countries designated as major non-NATO allies.

Driving the news: The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss contingency planning for providing Europe with natural gas in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • Afghanistan is also on the agenda: Qatar played an essential role in the evacuation from Kabul last year, and continues to serve as an intermediary between the Biden administration and the Taliban-led government.
  • Earlier on Monday, Qatar Airways signed a deal to purchase passenger and cargo jets from Boeing at a list price of over $30 billion, which Biden applauded for supporting "tens of thousands good paying U.S. jobs here in America."
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