The US president will revoke Afghanistan’s special status, almost a year after the Taliban takeover
US President Joe Biden notified Congress on Wednesday that he will formally revoke Afghanistan’s status as a “Major Non-NATO Ally,” almost a year after the last American soldier left the country on his orders – and the Washington-backed government melted in Kabul away before the Taliban.
Biden has sent an official notice to the US House of Representatives and the Senate of his intent to rescind Afghanistan’s designation, the White House said. There was no indication when this change would be effective.
In 2012, Afghanistan was first designated a MNNA by President Barack Obama. This came more than a decade after US troops invaded Kabul and toppled the Taliban government. They also accused it of harbouring Osama Bin Laden, an international terrorist. The designation helped Washington fully fund Kabul’s military budget for years.
It is “a powerful symbol of the close relationship the US shares with those countries and demonstrates our deep respect for the friendship”According to the State Department, they are eligible. It does not provide all the military or economic benefits that it should, however. “does not entail any security commitments to the designated country.”
A total of 20 countries and territories – including Taiwan, an island China considers its rightful territory – have been formally or informally granted this status since the category was created in 1987. The designated countries will be able to purchase surplus US arms and ammunition and use US finance to buy and lease military equipment. They also have access to maintenance contracts and can join Pentagon research projects at a cost-share basis.
Biden’s decision to revoke Afghanistan’s status isn’t surprising as much as overdue. With Afghanistan in Taliban control, the last US soldier left Afghanistan August 30th 2021. Two weeks earlier, the US-backed government had surrendered Kabul the Taliban. This resulted in an evacuation that included diplomats and Western citizens, as well as over 100,000 Afghans who were able to reach the airport.
Washington refused to recognize this new government and has frozen and partially confiscated assets of the Afghan central banks.