While Taliban Seeks “Good Relations”, US Plans To Chop Off Ally Status Too As Biden Notifies Of Decision To Remove Major Non-NATO Ally Tag

Kabul: At a time when Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada said on Wednesday that they seek a “good” relationship with everyone including the United States, US President Joe Biden gave a big blow to the radical group which is currently seeking legitimacy.

Go deeper:

    • US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his intention to rescind Afghanistan’s major non-NATO ally status, 10 months after the US withdrew from the country. Biden gave notice of his decision in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
    • “I am providing notice of my intent to rescind the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally,” the president wrote, saying the notice was in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
    • On July 7, 2012, the US had designated Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA), stating that the country will never be forgotten for the people of the United States and 10 years later, on July 6, 2022, the status is up for revocation.
    • Exactly a decade later, the United States has ripped the band-aid covering an old wound of Afghanistan. The band-aid being the war-torn nation’s special MNNA status and the wound being its under-developed, unfunded and completely disarrayed military.
    • Over the years, Afghanistan had started depending heavily on the United States to fulfil its military obligations, including training of its armed forces and even procuring defense hardware.
    • With the MNNA designation in place, the former Afghan governments found it easier to obtain military equipment and knowledge from the US required to maintain the obligatory functions of the country’s armed forces.
    • The United States helped train men of the Afghan National Army, even taught the air force pilots and provided advanced military equipment to the war-torn nation.
    • However, the past one year has put the US in the doldrums regarding its Afghanistan policy. The military, which the US worked so hard on, failed to keep the Taliban at bay and as soon as the US withdrawal was complete, it swept to power, overthrowing the Republican government.
    • The US government disbursed almost $73 billion in military aid to Afghanistan between 2001 and 2020, which was almost 20 times the amount of Afghanistan’s own military expenditure. Despite the USA having provided the ANDSF with equipment, training, services, funding for salaries, infrastructure and more, it took the Taliban a little over four months to take over Afghanistan and control Kabul after the announcement in April 2021 that NATO’s Resolute Support Mission would end.
    • For the past year, much of the aircraft had been flown to neighbouring countries, but the US left behind all its military hardware as is, which unfortunately fell into the hands of the Taliban.
    • With war raging in many provinces of Afghanistan currently and the Taliban allegedly using violence against its own people, the decision of the US maybe a signal to the group that they need to listen to the global players, if they want continued supply and international recognition.

What does this mean? One could say that the MNNA designation is quite prestigious for a country which is not a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as it comes with a range of benefits as listed by the US Department of State:

    • With this designation, a country gets benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation, with no security commitments for it. So, there is preferential access to US arms exports and defence deals.
    • The country is eligible for loans of material, supplies, or equipment for cooperative research, development, testing, or evaluation purposes.
    • It can also act as a location for US-owned War Reserve Stockpiles to be placed on its territory outside of US military facilities.
    • Even firms of such a country, as with NATO countries, can bid on contracts for maintenance, repair or overhaul of US Department of Defense equipment outside the United States.

Why it matters? The decision comes as there are massive reports of human rights violations across Afghanistan by the Taliban and the roll-back of the group’s promise on girls’ education. Apart from education, the hardline Islamist group is slowly removing women from social life and forced them to stay confined within the four walls of their homes. The Taliban has also been slowly reverting to the tactics it employed when it was in power in the 90s and has introduced a slew of restrictions on media, musicians, TV and are practically reversing the progress which the country had made over the last 20 years.

    • Now, removal of the ‘major non-NATO ally’ designation consequently will cease mutual defence guarantees of ties between the US and Afghanistan.
    • The war-torn nation will no longer be able to receive major material and supply loans as well as serve as a location for US-owned war reserves.
    • In addition, it will also strip Afghanistan’s eligibility for receiving training and assistance, including leasing military equipment despite the withdrawal of NATO troops from the country.

Back Story: In 2012, the United States named Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, which cleared the way for the two countries to maintain a defense and economic relationship. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the designation during a visit to Kabul.

    • One well-known aspect of US military aid is the various types of major arms supplied to Afghanistan. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), between 2005 and 2021, around $18.6 billion worth of military equipment was disbursed to the ANDSF through the ASFF.
    • The countries that have the major non-NATO ally designation now include: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia.

So, what does the Taliban say? Well, as a disgruntled reaction to the major setback, the Taliban said that it remains unperturbed by the decision.

    • In fact, the Taliban’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that the designation did not do Afghanistan any good and Afghans do have have “good memories” regarding the status. Adding that the Taliban government is not worries with the decision, Mujahid said that the group still seeks to hold dialogue with all countries and maintain friendly ties in the diplomatic and commercial sectors.

Zoom out: The question remains as to if this decision will actually make a difference for the Taliban that they mend their ways or will it just be another whitewash, like the group mentioned. The US and its allies have already cut off its funding to Afghanistan, till Taliban tows the line. With major humanitarian crisis unravelling in Afghanistan due to earthquakes, floods and internally displaced people combined with a free-falling economy, the Taliban has absolutely no way to look for help.

It’s a wait and watch game as to how the Taliban will continue to fund itself after the left behind US military hardware, equipment and knowledge dries up. The Taliban will need new hardware or even repairs for the old ones and that will come at a cost. Now, the group eventually has to decide if the cost will be giving up its radical ideologies or giving up gaining legitimacy from the global world.

+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Latest Stories