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Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA)

On 13 September 2012 President Barack Obama gave an interview to Telemundo about the relationship between the U.S. and Egypt. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," said the president. "They are a new government that's trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think we have to see how they respond to this incident." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said later that day that "The President, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly, that we do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt. “Ally” is a legal term of art. As I said, we don’t have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do, for example, with our NATO allies."

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other diplomats killed on 11 September 2012 when a mob stormed the U.S. consulate in the city of Benghazi. The attack in eastern Libya on September 11 came after radical Islamist protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the capital of neighboring Egypt. In these and other casese, the protesters were angry about a low-budget video that insults the Prophet Muhammad, being promoted by an anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigners in the United States.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was initially largely silent about the attack on the US embassy. The Egyptian president condemned the film mocking the prophet Mohammed that caused outrage in the Muslim world and triggered the violence. He called on Obama to take action against the filmmakers. Egypt receives about $2 billion in aid annually, ranking second only to Israel among countries receiving aid from the US.

On September 14, 2012 US Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today blasted President Obama’s blunder in saying that he does not consider Egypt an ally. “Here we are in the midst of an international crisis, and President blew it,” said Inhofe. “Unfortunately, this lack of leadership is what we have come to expect from President Obama. Saying that Egypt is not an ally is a huge blunder, and it calls into question how engaged he really is on this crisis. I certainly hope that he isn’t too distracted by campaign events or asleep at the wheel to give the ongoing crisis the proper attention."

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi spoke out again 14 September 2012 on the need to keep protests in check, saying Egypt will never accept the killing of innocents, or attacks on diplomatic missions or personnel. He added it is every government's duty, including Egypt's, to protect ambassadors, missions and tourists. The appeal for restraint followed what is being described as a frank telephone call overnight between Morsi and U.S. President Barack Obama. The Egyptian leader is reported to have brought up the anti-Muslim video, while president Obama stressed Egypt's obligation to protect the embassy.

A Major Non-NATO Ally is any country not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and designated as a major non-NATO ally under Section 2350a(f)(2) of Title 10, United States Code. The MNNA is a designation given by the U.S. government to exceptionally close allies who have strong strategic working relationships with American forces but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Major Non-NATO Ally,” is a title of uncertain distinction; they have become eligible for certain kinds of military assistance, including purchasing excess defense articles and participating in cooperative defense research and development projects.

Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) Status does not entail the same mutual defense and security guarantees afforded to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members. However, designation as an MNNA represents an affirmation of the importance the US places on the relationship. US legislation creates two categories of MNNA status. The first category is under Title 10 U.S Code Section 2350a (Nunn Amendment of 1987). The Second is under Section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA) (title 22, USC Section 2321k).

Title 10 U.S. Code Section 2350a authorizes the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to designate MNNAs for purposes of participating with the Department of Defense (DOD) in cooperative research and development programs. Israel, Egypt, Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea were given MNNA designation under Title 10 in 1987, followed by Jordan (1996), Argentina (1998), New Zealand and Bahrain (2002), and the Philippines and Thailand (2003). The Departments of State and Defense had notified Congress of the intent to designate Thailand in early October 2003. In June 2004 the U.S. President officially notified the designation of Pakistan as a Major non-NATO Ally (MNNA). Designation under this provision:

  • Permits firms of the country to bid on certain USG contracts for maintenance, repair or overhaul of DOD equipment outside the Continental US. (10 USC 2349)
  • Makes a country eligible for certain joint counterterrorism research & development projects. (22 USC 2349a-10(b); PL 104-132 sec. 328(b))
  • Allows DOD to enter into cooperative R&D projects with the country to improve conventional defense capabilities on an equitable cost-sharing basis. (10 USC sec 2350a)
Section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, authorizes the President to designate a country as a MNNA after 30-days notification to Congress, for purposes of the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The statute, enacted in 1996, initially designated Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand as MNNAs. Subsequently, Jordan (1996), Argentina (1998), Bahrain (2002), and the Philippines and Thailand (2003) have also been designated as MNNAs under this provision. Designation under this provision:
  • Makes a nation eligible, to the maximum extent feasible, for priority delivery of excess defense articles if it is on the South or Southeastern flank of NATO. (FAA §516)
  • Makes a nation eligible to buy depleted uranium ammunition. (FAA §620G)
  • Makes the country eligible to have U.S.-owned War Reserve Stockpiles on its territory outside of U.S. military installations. (FAA §514) )].
  • Allows the country to enter into agreements with the USG for the cooperative furnishing of training on a bilateral or multilateral basis under reciprocal financial arrangements that may exclude reimbursement for indirect costs and certain other charges. (AECA §21(g))
  • Allows the country to use U.S. provided Foreign Military Financing for commercial leasing of certain defense articles. (Section 589 of the FY01 Foreign Operations Appropriation Act, Public Law 106-429)
  • Makes a country eligible for loans of materials, supplies and equipment for cooperative R&D projects and testing and evaluation. (AECA §65)
  • Makes a country eligible for expedited processing of export licenses of commercial satellites, their technologies, components, and systems. (Section 1309 of the James W. Nance and Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001, Public Law 106-113)
MNNA designation under section 517 of the FAA can be terminated at the discretion of the President with 30 days notice to the Congress, but no specific criteria or precedents exist regarding termination.

A 2009 report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments suggested that "Key additions to this list might include (but are notnecessarily limited to) Saudi Arabia (considering America’s longstanding support for the House of Saud and the importance of Saudi oil for the West), Afghanistan and Iraq (given the United States’ substantial military commitments to both nations, which are likely to persist in some form well into the future), and Singapore (which has arguably become the United States’ closest security partner in Southeast Asia in recent years."

On May 2, 2012, President Obama and President Karzai signed the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As part of this agreement, the United States pledged to designate Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). Following the entry into force of the Strategic Partnership Agreement on July 4, President Obama signed the MNNA designation for Afghanistan on July 6. Afghanistan is the first country to be designated an MNNA since 2004.

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Page last modified: 15-09-2012 14:13:00 ZULU