Factbox: U.S., Saudi Arabia have leverage on each other; using it has costs | Reuters
kingdom and on U.S.-Saudi relations has yet to be determined. . U.S. Oil Imports and Saudi Policy. . The kingdom plays a central role in the. The conventional narrative of the U.S.-Saudi relationship has for many years the security of oil in the Gulf region depends on its major producer, Saudi Arabia, . play a more active regional role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and. My testimony today first briefly reviews the U.S-Saudi relationship with regard and the resulting oil embargo and production cutback, enabled Saudi Arabia to They are playing a leading role in trying to stop funding to the Islamic State and.
Do Americans have better options for their oil supply? Is Saudi security now undermined — rather than reinforced — by a reliance on the United States? Previously unimaginable questions have gained a serious currency in discussion of the relationship. Yet the Saudis and the Americans viewed the consequences of these events with different shadings.
For the Americans, the attacks were transformative, exposing vulnerabilities that had not been recognized, and redefining American security needs. For the Saudis, the attacks were the culmination of a sharp deterioration in both American foreign policy and in Arab politics.
There was no disagreement about the unjustifiable horror of the attacks; there were starkly different perceptions of whether these attacks had come out of the blue. Tens of thousands of Saudis have studied in American universities, mastered English, and continue to admire American values and creativity. Saudis have invested many billions of dollars in American businesses, and perhapsown homes in the United States. Yet anti-Americanism is widespread in Saudi Arabia. Why is this so?
There is a belief that American foreign policy is beginning to target Saudi Arabia as a potential enemy. While some American participants argued that this Saudi view may exaggerate the importance of conservative and neoconservative media commentary in the United States, it does reflect the reality of a more general reassessment of Saudi-American relations both inside and outside of the Saudi government.
There is a widespread perception among Saudis that large segments of American society have embraced an openly hostile stance toward Islam. In this Saudi view, while the American government criticizes Saudi Arabia for religious bigotry, it tolerates insulting characterizations of Islam.
The charge that the American media equate Islam and terrorism resonates among many in Saudi Arabia, even those who would like to see reform within the Saudi religious establishment itself.
U.S.-Saudi Relations: Bump in the Road or End of the Road?
Second, the Palestinian issue profoundly shapes Saudi views of the United States. Since the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the fall ofSaudi public opinion has overwhelmingly held the United States responsible for Israeli actions against Palestinians.
In this view, Israeli actions are seen as an extension of American hostility toward Arabs and Islam. The Saudi attendees were unanimous in their assessment that the Palestinian issue is a genuine and deeply felt public cause in their country.
That focus has generated both a new level of interest in Saudi domestic political, religious and social issues and a much more negative perception of Saudi Arabia. Saudis have always been interested in the United States, because of how the United States can reach into their lives.
At a minimum, there is concern that the Saudi government has not been sufficiently vigilant in preventing radical political interpretations from being grafted onto Saudi-supported religious and charitable ventures both inside and outside the country. Two other issues related to the Saudi interpretation of Islam also contribute to the negative public perceptions in the United States of Saudi Arabia.
The first is the lack of religious freedom in the kingdom, not only for non-Muslims but also for Muslims who do not follow the official interpretations of Islam. American interest in this issue has now been institutionalized through the U. Commission on International Religious Freedom, established by Congress. The Commission has already issued a very critical report on Saudi Arabia.
The second issue is the official restrictions on the public and professional role of women in Saudi society, restrictions justified by many Saudis on Islamic grounds.
While in most Arab republics parliamentary elections are a sham, at least there is the recognition that elections are part of a modern political order. There are no elections to representative governmental bodies anywhere in Saudi Arabia.
In other Arab monarchies — Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain — there are elected parliaments that purportedly serve as a check on the executive. No elected parliament exists in Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the widely expressed Saudi view of excessive Jewish influence on American Middle East policy has a significant impact on American public opinion concerning Saudi Arabia. Serious differences over the shape of an eventual Arab-Israeli settlement are colored by American perceptions of religious intolerance and antisemitism as shaping factors in Saudi policy. As a result, there are significant Saudi-American disagreements even about the nature of American support for Israel: Oil, military cooperation, a common anticommunism and Arab-Israeli issues were the core of the relationship.
Saudi Arabia–United States relations - Wikipedia
Consequently, the relationship, particularly in the United States, was the focus of a select few with direct interests in these specialized areas. Now, however, both sides are intensely interested in domestic political and social issues in the other country, which are now seen as directly related to international security concerns.
But as these domestic issues take on new salience in the relationship, the likelihood of tension and misunderstanding grows. No one likes to be told by outsiders how to arrange his or her own affairs. But that is what is happening now, on both sides of the relationship, and there is no reason to think that this trend is temporary.
How these sensitive issues are handled by Washington and Riyadh will determine, to a great extent, the tone and tenor of the relationship for the foreseeable future.
Saudis might be concerned about elements of American domestic politics, but there is little the Saudi government can do about them. The United States, on the other hand, has the power to pressure the Saudi government on domestic political issues considered important by Washington. They argue that greater political freedom, religious tolerance and an expanded social role for Saudi women would reduce incentives for Saudis to adopt terrorist and anti-American agendas.
To the extent that American elites — policy makers and opinion leaders — believe that Saudi domestic political arrangements contribute to anti-American violence, Saudi domestic issues will be a more prominent element of the agenda of bilateral relations than they have been in the past.
Saudi attendees expressed a variety of views on the acceptability and effectiveness of American pressure over domestic political and social issues. While a number of the Saudi participants acknowledged the need for fundamental reform, they did not believe a reform agenda could — or should — move ahead in response to American pressure.
Others held that American intervention in Saudi domestic affairs is a reality, and that if Washington is going to intervene on some issues, it should also do so in favor of political reform. The Saudi attendees generally agreed that the Saudi government is sincere in its desire to introduce reforms, but is hamstrung by its own internal logjams and by the resistance of well-organized and powerful interests, particularly in the religious establishment.
For Saudi Arabia, homegrown Islamic extremism poses a serious threat to the stability of the Kingdom and has come to threaten the lives of the Al Saud themselves through assassination attempts— such as in when Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by a homegrown terrorist.
For the Al Saud, their belief that Islamic extremism is one of two major threats facing the Kingdom can be justified. This argument is well founded. This proselytizing was part and parcel of Saudi foreign policy, in part to counter the threat of communism and radical political ideologies. As such, Saudis support of these causes was encouraged by Washington.
However, during the U. Some groups morphed into revolutionary movements that employed violence as a necessary political tool.
In time, their violent ideal would congeal into identifiable organizations both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. No amount of U. With this, the Saudi leadership has come to recognize that their support for extremism has metastasized into a serious threat to both the House of Saud and to the West. Among the reforms detailed in Vision include provisions that would crack down on institutional extremism. In latethe International Energy Agency predicted that the United States will become the largest global oil producer by around,with North America poised to become a net exporter of oil around World Energy Outlook, Saudi Arabia, for its part, has diversified its oil export markets to other countries such as China, India, and other parts of Asia MIT.
The Saudi government is also investing heavily in solar and nuclear energy. Inthe Saudi government announced plans to install 9.
Thus, Saudi Arabia and the U. Critics in the U. In fact, at the beginning of the relationship in the early decades of the Cold War, the U. Yet oil is a commodity, and its price is set by the market.
More than any other global player, Riyadh can greatly shape supply, thus influencing price. Thus, even if the U. Further, sustaining a working relationship will mean that Saudi Arabia will at least listen to U. In terms of the U. Rather, the nature of the relationship will continue to change, shifting from one based on the exchange of oil for security, to one based on security for security. Nonetheless, there are steps that can still be taken outside of these channels to improve the U. In future regional negotiations, the U.
The oil installations were rebuilt and protected by the U. In contrast, Saudi government and officials saw the U. At this time, due to the start of the Cold Warthe U. Truman 's administration also promised Bin Saud that he would protect Saudi Arabia from Soviet influence. During Saud's time the U. Eisenhower 's new anti-Soviet alliance combined most of "the kingdom's regional rivals and foes", which heightened Saudi suspicions. Thus, this act had sparked and innovated a new and a large conflict in the relationship.
But induring the Suez crisisSaud began to cooperate with the U. Eisenhower opposed the plan because of anti-Soviet purposes, but King Saud had admired the act and decided to start cooperating with the U. In less than a year, after the Egyptian—Syrian unification inEgypt's pro-Soviet strategy had returned to power.
Saud had once again joined their alliance, which declined the US-Saudi relationship to a fairly low point especially after he announced in that he changed his mind on renewing the U. Kennedy immediately responded to Saud's request by sending U. Instead, the Nixon administration sought to rely on local allies to "police" American interests see Nixon Doctrine. In the Gulf region, this meant relying on Saudi Arabia and Iran as "twin pillars" of regional security.
Whereas in the U. The US, on the other hand, was not sure about the outcome of such unplanned change in the Saudi monarchy. Faisal, however, continued the cooperation with the US until October 20, That caused an energy crisis in the US.
Indeed, the great oil wealth accumulated as a result of price increases allowed the Saudis to purchase large sums of American military technology. The embargo was lifted in March after the U. Three months later, "Washington and Riyadh signed a wide-ranging agreement on expanded economic and military cooperation.
Many of these military facilities were influenced by the U.
US-Saudi relations: A timeline
Also the Saudis purchased a great deal of weapons that varied from F war planes to M1 Abrams main battle tanks that later proved useful during the Gulf War. The Gulf War[ edit ] Relations between the two nations solidified even further past the point of the oil embargo, whereas the United States of America sent nearlysoldiers to Saudi Arabia in attempt to aid in protection against Iraq.
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- Saudi Arabia–United States relations
Bush to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait inAmerica kept 5, troops in Saudi Arabia in order to maintain their protection and our trade relations. As a result, after King Fahd 's approval, President Bush deployed a significant amount of American military forces up toground troops by the end of the operation to protect Saudi Arabia from a possible Iraqi invasion; this operation was called Desert Shield.
Operation Southern Watch[ edit ] U.