Nairobi-Washington Bond: What It Means For U.S To Declare Kenya A Major Non-NATO Ally

Written by on 23 May 2024

President William Ruto’s three-day state visit to Washington, United States, will see Kenya being accorded a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status, sources say. 

The significant move will see Kenya becoming the first sub-Saharan nation to receive the status, further cementing a 60-year-long camaraderie between the two nations.

This now allows Kenya to enjoy plump military and economic privileges from the US and engage in closer security cooperation amid a partnership to weed out the al-Shabaab terrorist group and the latest, the UN-backed mission to send 1000 Kenyan officers to war-torn Haiti.

A former top Africa official in Donald Trump’s administration J. Peter Pham told Politico that given the warm ties the two nations have shared for eons, it is only appropriate to accord Kenya the non-NATO ally status.

“If any country in Africa that does not already have the status has a prima facie case for being designated a major non-NATO ally, it is Kenya,” he said.

The initiative will also boost America’s efforts to stamp a footprint in Africa even as China continues to dominate forging partnerships across the continent. 

Kenya merging with the US plays a big advantage for the Western nation because of its formidable economic muscle, having dominated East Africa’s economy.

Non-NATO ally status

An MNNA status is a designation under U.S. law [1] that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation. 

The MNNA designation is a powerful symbol of the close relationship the United States shares with those countries and demonstrates our deep respect for the friendship of the countries to which it is extended. 

Countries under this status receive various military and financial advantages but do not have the mutual defense commitments that NATO members have under Article 5 of the NATO treaty.

To grant this status, the U.S. President must notify Congress of the intention to designate the country as an MNNA. If Congress does not object within 30 days, the designation becomes effective.

Nations under this status enjoy privileges such as;

  • Eligible for loans of material, supplies, or equipment for cooperative research, development, testing, or evaluation purposes.
  • Eligible as a location for U.S.-owned War Reserve Stockpiles to be placed on its territory outside of U.S. military facilities.
  • Can enter into agreements with the US for the cooperative furnishing of training on a bilateral or multilateral basis, if the financial arrangements are reciprocal and provide for reimbursement of all U.S. direct costs.
  • Eligible for priority delivery of Excess Defense Articles transferred under section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act (if located on the southern or south-eastern flank of NATO).
  • Eligible for consideration to purchase depleted uranium ammunition.

Currently, there are 18 countries with MNNA status which include Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia.

NATO Allies

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has 32 member countries, called NATO Allies, which are sovereign states that come together through NATO to discuss political and security issues and make collective decisions by consensus.

NATO was established on 4 April 1949 through the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty (Washington Treaty) by 12 founding members.

They were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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