Kenya 19th Country Designated a Special Ally Outside NATO by the US

The United States has designated 18 countries as non-NATO allies and Kenya adds the number to 19, following President William Ruto’s three-day state visit to the US.

Designated countries include Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia.

President Joe Biden while hosting President Ruto at the White House on Thursday said the move will make Kenya the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to hold the designation and described the decision as “a fulfillment of years of collaboration”.

“Our joint counterterrorism operations have degraded ISIS [ISIL] and al-Shabab across East Africa, our mutual support for Ukraine has rallied the world to stand behind the UN Charter, and our work together on Haiti is helping pave the way to reduce instability and insecurity,” President Biden told a joint news conference at the White House on Thursday.

What does Kenya’s non-NATO ally status mean?

As a non-Nato ally, Kenya will have privileged access to sophisticated military equipment, training, and loans to augment defense spending.

However, the US is under no obligation to provide it with direct military assistance and Kenya is not mandated to send troops for Nato operations.

Despite the threat from al-Shabab, which has staged several attacks on Kenya, its military spending has often been moderate compared with its neighbors in the East African Community (EAC).

How other African countries have benefited from the designation

The non-Nato ally status remarkably upgraded the militaries of Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.

Tunisia’s military strength changed considerably once it earned the status in 2015, coinciding with budgetary and operational reforms.

Egypt, which has one of the most reputable armies in the world, has had the designation since 1989 as it formed the cornerstone of US diplomatic forays in North Africa and the Middle East.

Morocco has gained extensive experience in counterterrorism as militants from the Islamic State (IS) group seek a foothold in parts of North Africa.

The kingdom has been hosting the largest military exercise on the continent since 2007 dubbed “African Lion”.

This year’s edition features 7,000 military personnel from 20 African and NATO states receiving tactical training.

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