The present list of "major non-NATO ally" (MNNA) of the US:

Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia.

In addition, P.L. 107-228 provides Taiwan shall be treated as an MNNA, without formal designation as such.

Why is e.g. Pakistan or Tunisia on this list, but not Saudi Arabia, which boast buying the most US defense equipment?

(One might think that Tunisia normalized relations with Israel, but not formally. And while there's apparently a US drone base in Tunisia, it seems its kept shrouded in secrecy as much as possible. Anyhow, the US doesn't consider it a major facility, unlike the CENTCOM bases in Bahrain and Qatar.)

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Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status for Saudi Arabia has been seriously considered and, in particular, dangled as a carrot for Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel: See e.g. Reuters, 2023-09-29, "US-Saudi defence pact tied to Israel deal, Palestinian demands put aside".

The key obstacle is normalization of relations with Israel. It seemed this obstacle was well on track to being removed until the Hamas attack on 2023-10-07.

The current war notwithstanding, I expect that Saudi Arabia will eventually normalize relations with Israel—and when that happens, Saudi Arabia will also be granted MNNA status (whether at the same time as part of an explicit package deal or as a reward shortly after).

Muslim states that have been granted MNNA status (year) and notes:

  • Egypt (1987): First batch of "non-NATO ally" statuses granted alongside Israel; at the time, they didn't yet use the word major; this was shortly after Egypt recognised Israel in 1979.
  • Jordan (1996): Shortly after recognising Israel in 1994 ("the Administration ... was seeking every possible means to bring “the fruits of peace” to Jordan and to reward King Hussein for having signed a treaty of peace with Israel in October 1994", Jones, 1998).
  • Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, and Pakistan (2002–04): Granted by George W. Bush during the "War on Terror".
  • Tunisia (2015): Granted by Obama as a reward for "Tunisia’s decision to join the world's democracies".
  • Qatar (2022): See "Why the US chose Qatar as a major non-Nato ally before Saudi Arabia and the UAE" (Middle East Eye, 2022).

(During the "War on Terror", even if Saudi Arabia had been helpful to the US, given that almost all of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudi, it would've been politically infeasible to grant it MNNA.)

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    The UAE normalized relations with Israel, but were not granted MNNA. Mar 18 at 8:45
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    @Dolphin613Motorboat: Normalizing relations with Israel is necessary but not sufficient. // Sudan also normalized relations with Israel but no one imagines the US will grant it MNNA status any time soon. // The US has significantly greater cooperation and alignment of interests with Saudi Arabia than with the UAE. // See the Middle East Eye article: "the Emiratis in Yemen went against US efforts to keep that country from splitting in two and also undermine US efforts to resurrect diplomacy there"
    – user103496
    Mar 18 at 9:03
  • Somewhat true, but MEE is Qatar funded, so it's probably not the most objective source of assessments. Qatar, for instance, also doesn't have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. In fact, they firmly ruled them out, just as they were being granted MNNA. (Yeah, the 2024 lease renewal of the large US base in Qatar probably weighted more heavily than other considerations.) Mar 18 at 9:17

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