Ties between the Gulf state and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have continued to strengthen over the years.
Qatar’s envoy to the European Union and NATO, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al Malki, met with the alliance’s Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană in Brussels on Saturday, where the two discussed bilateral cooperation.
Whilst no further details were disclosed by Qatar’s foreign ministry regarding the meeting, it comes days after US President Joe Biden requested to designate the Gulf state as a major non-NATO ally (MNNA).
The US president had announced the decision last week during the visit of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Washington—the first Gulf leader to visit the White House since President Biden assumed office.
“I designated Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally in recognition of our strong partnership over 50 years. We reaffirmed our unwavering interest in promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and Middle East region,” tweeted the American president on 1 February.
Qatar would be the third Gulf country to be added to the list of 17 current MNNA’s, which already includes Bahrain and Kuwait. The MNNA designation provides the US’ foreign partners with a number of benefits in areas concerning defence trade and security cooperation.
Ties between the Gulf state and the military bloc have strengthened over the past years, witnessing the signing of significant agreements.
In 2005, Qatar was amongst the countries that formally joined the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), a forum that aimed for broader cooperation between NATO and MENA states.
In December 2014, Qatar hosted a NATO-ICI seminar, which marked the 10-year anniversary of the Istanbul initiative, gathering representatives and officials from the alliance, alongside academics and senior scholars from the Gulf region.
The Gulf state was also first country in the Middle East to host the annual high-level NATO conference the following year, which delved into the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Signed during Sheikh Tamim’s visit to the NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, the agreement aimed at supporting the alliance’s missions in the region, including the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
Last year, the Gulf state inaugurated its mission and military representation at the NATO’s headquarters in bid to intensify its bilateral cooperation with the bloc.
Media reports from 2021 also claimed that NATO sought Qatar’s help in securing a base to train Afghan special forces, just two months before the collapse of Afghanistan’s former government.
Qatar carried out the largest airlift of people in history at the time by evacuating at least 70,000 Afghans and foreigners.