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Biden To Extend ‘Major Non-NATO Ally’ Status To Kenya, What This Means

Kenya will become the first sub-Saharan nation to receive the designation, which allows the recipient country to obtain more sophisticated weaponry from the United States and engage in closer security cooperation.

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Kenya is set to get a major boost in its military capabilities after reports that President Joe Biden will be extending major non-NATO ally status to Kenya during the three-day state visit by President William Ruto.

American publication, Politico has confirmed the plans citing senior U.S. officials.

Kenya will become the first sub-Saharan nation to receive the designation, which allows the recipient country to obtain more sophisticated weaponry from the United States and engage in closer security cooperation.

This could give the U.S.-Kenya relationship more leverage given their lengthened military cooperation in counterterrorism operations against Al Shabaab and other global terrorist organizations that have for decades been attacking Kenya.

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Kenya has participated in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and an international maritime task force launched by the Biden administration in December in response to Houthi attacks against vessels operating in the Red Sea.

While Biden is yet to travel to Africa, Washington continued worry over Chinese influence in the continent remains clear and this latest move could further consolidate its intentions to keep its grip on the region with Kenya being a strategic partner.

The designation of Kenya as a major non-NATO ally comes when the preparations for Kenya to deploy police officers to Haiti as part of U.N.-led effort to address the security crisis in the Caribbean country has hit fever pitch and already bases are being set up for their arrival.

Some 1,000 Kenyan police officers are set to arrive soon in Haiti, part of a multilateral security support mission that aims to help quell gang violence. Other countries expected to back up Kenyan forces include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Bangladesh.

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Ruto’s decision to send police forces to Haiti was welcomed by Biden administration officials as an unprecedented undertaking and a show of global leadership by Kenya.

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Kenya will become the 19th country to be named a major non-NATO ally, the most recent addition since Biden bestowed the title on Qatar in March 2022. Three other countries on the African continent — Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia — have already gained the status.

The U.S. is not treaty-bound to come to such a country’s defense as it would be with actual NATO allies. But the designation, according to the State Department, provides “certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation.

Kenya will join the list of other non-NATO allies including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, and Pakistan, among others.


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