President Joe Biden in a letter to Congress on Wednesday said that he will officially rescind Afghanistan’s designation as a major non‑NATO ally.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the President wrote: “In accordance with section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2321k), I am providing notice of my intent to rescind the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non‑NATO Ally.”
In 2012, the United States named Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, which cleared the way for the two countries to maintain a defense and economic relationship. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the designation during a visit to Kabul.
Unlike NATO allies of the United States, who are bound together by a joint defense pact, there is no mutual defense guarantee as a non-NATO ally. These allies are eligible to receive material and supply loans, as well as serve as a location for US-owned war reserve stockpiles. Additionally, private companies from the designated country can bid on contracts to maintain, repair or overhaul US military equipment overseas.
The ally status had made Afghanistan eligible to receive military training and assistance, including expediting the sale and leasing of military equipment even after NATO troops left the country.
With Afghanistan’s status rescinded, the US will have 18 major non-NATO allies, according to the State Department. They are: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia.
The change in Afghanistan’s status follows Biden’s withdrawal of US troops from the country last year, ending nearly 20 years of war.
Afghanistan swiftly fell back in the hands of the Taliban, which have repeatedly made assurances to the international community that they will protect the rights of women and girls, while simultaneously stripping away many of their freedoms and protections.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.