The United States no longer considers Afghanistan to be a major non-NATO ally, President Biden said Wednesday, formally depriving the country of access to US military supplies and training following last year’s takeover by the Taliban.
The announcement reduces the number of major non-NATO allies to 18: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia.
The US also treats Taiwan as a major non-NATO ally but has avoided giving it a formal designation amid ongoing tensions with China.
Afghanistan was designated a major non-NATO ally in 2012 during the Obama administration, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying at the time: “We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan.”
Nine years later, Biden announced the withdrawal of all American troops from the country, triggering the collapse of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and the swift return of the Taliban 20 years after they were removed from power by NATO forces following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The chaotic troop withdrawal was marred by the killing of 13 US service members and more than 180 Afghan civilians in a ISIS-K suicide bomb attack on Aug. 26 outside Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Biden administration has been heavily criticized for their handling of the pullout, particularly for removing all military forces before the US could successfully evacuate thousands of US citizens and Afghan allies from the war-torn country.
Major non-NATO ally designations are provided to foreign countries whose relationship with the US will benefit defense, trade, and security cooperation, according to the State Department.
The designation does provide military and economic privileges for the allied nations — however, security commitments are not guaranteed.