KUWAIT: The Late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (left) is seen with late US President George H W Bush (right). — KUNA photos
KUWAIT: The Late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (left) is seen with late US President George H W Bush (right). — KUNA photos
Kuwait marks 20th anniversary of strategic allyship with US
Status allows Kuwait, US to exchange security information, military training, arms supply

KUWAIT: Kuwait celebrated Monday the 20th anniversary of its designation by the United States as a strategic ally from outside NATO, as both countries share values that call for peace and stability in the world. This status — bestowed on Kuwait on April 1, 2004, by the US — has strengthened the close bilateral relations dating back to 1951 when the US opened its first consulate in the capital, Kuwait City.

Kuwait being a strategic ally of the US means it can acquire modern military technology in addition to encompassing other economic and scientific aspects, such as obtaining a distinctive status and significant preference. Kuwaiti-American relations began in the 19th century and witnessed great development over the years, especially in defense, security, education, economic, consular, customs and border security cooperation, as well as cooperation on global issues.

Kuwait has become a strategic ally and a key partner of the US thanks to its efforts in promoting security and stability and de-escalating tensions in the Middle East, especially through its mediation role and bridging viewpoints in a number of regional and global crises. Regarding the strategic alliance between the two countries, the Acting Head of the Department of Political Science at Kuwait University, Dr Haila Al-Mukaimi, stated to KUNA that Kuwaiti-American relations have gone through long and extensive historical stages that can be classified into five main stages.

The first of these stages is the early presence and early relations, where these relations date back to an early period, exemplified by the American hospital, which was considered an important landmark for the pre-independence stage of Kuwait, and the establishment of the American consulate in Kuwait in 1951. The second stage is the beginning of diplomatic relations in 1961. After Kuwait’s independence, the consulate turned into an embassy, recognizing Kuwait by the US as an independent sovereign state, therefore, the US promptly initiated this recognition and supported Kuwait in facing Iraqi claims at the time, which is considered an important stage in the history of bilateral relations.

The third stage is the stage of the strategic relationship, which emerged following the Iran-Iraq War, where Kuwait requested the US in 1986 to put American flags on Kuwaiti tankers to ensure safe transport of its oil to the world and have the tankers under the protection of a major power. The fourth stage is enhancing the strategic relationship, represented by the 1991 Gulf War liberation, adding that Kuwaitis recognize the importance of the US’ role in 1991.

The fifth stage is the Kuwaiti-American relationship in 2004, represented by Kuwait’s declaration as a strategic ally of the US from outside NATO, adding that this came after the visit of the late Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the US.

Mukaimi added that the US remains one of the most important tourist destinations for Kuwaitis and for study, indicating that Kuwaiti-American relations are characterized by both official and public dimensions. She explained that this reflected several aspects, including Kuwait’s pivotal role in maintaining regional and global peace and security, joint efforts, and informational coordination between the two parties. She added that in Kuwait’s dealing with matters related to global security, as Kuwait is closely linked to international law and has experienced invasion and liberation by the United Nations (UN) and the demarcation of borders and depositing them with the UN, it all contributed to shaping Kuwait’s foreign policy.

Mukaimi stated that Kuwait’s status enhances its international role in maintaining peace and security, as well as its humanitarian and relief dimension, especially since it has been considered a global relief center since 2004, which has reinforced its role as a peace-promoting state worldwide. She mentioned that Kuwait has hosted many initiatives related to peace and reconstruction, such as the conferences on Syria and hosting the Iraq Reconstruction Conference.

Dr Abdullah Al-Shayji, Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University, stated that Kuwait’s designation as a strategic ally outside NATO is an important matter. He added that this status was very important, noting that the number of major allies of the US outside NATO is 18, while the number of member countries in NATO is 32. He explained that this classification began during the days of President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and continued until President Joe Biden, who announced the accession of Qatar and Colombia in 2022 as strategic allies.

He said that Egypt was the first Arab country to be declared by the US as a strategic ally outside of NATO in 1987, while Bahrain was the first Gulf country in 2002. He stated that there are three Gulf countries that have acquired the status of a strategic ally to the US outside NATO, which are Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar, considering it a distinctive status due to the exchange of security information, military training, arms supply, and participation in security and intelligence information exchange.

Shayji stated that this gave Kuwait an important advantage, as Kuwait has had a strategic dialogue consisting of five rounds over the past five or six years, which means that the relationship between the two countries was strong. It is worth mentioning that Kuwait has played a significant role in diplomatic reconciliation and mediation between countries over the years, and it is committed to the security and stability of the Gulf region, the Middle East, and the world and has spared no effort in assisting countries facing famine, crises, conflicts and wars. — KUNA

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