Over 70 years ago, in 1945, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia met onboard the USS Quincy. A close relationship between the two countries has been maintained ever since, with oil and military and intelligence cooperation at its foundation. But the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. shale revolution, human rights concerns, and diverging interests in the Middle East, have all put strains on this relationship. Has this special relationship outlived its usefulness, or is it too important to walk away from?
As long as this new wave of sectarian terrorism remains confined to Shia areas inside Saudi Arabia and does not spill over to reach mainstream society or state institutions, it seems the Saudi regime is willing to live with such low intensity warfare that is only felt among the Shia minority.
Saudi Arabia, one of the twelve worst human rights abusers in the world, is ranked as not free in Freedom in the World, and receives the lowest possible score of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties.
Jeffrey examines the chronology of U.S. military engagement and intervention in the Middle East, the causes of its past military successes and failures there, and how America's military engagement in the region has bolstered its global security system.
Saudi Arabia has close defense and security ties with the United States anchored by long-standing military training programs and supplemented by ongoing high-value weapons sales and new critical infrastructure security cooperation and counterterrorism initiatives. These ties would be difficult and costly for either side to fully break or replace.
Whether Saudi Arabia is a U.S. “ally” involves weighing the possible benefits of a close relationship such as military access rights against the disadvantages of the closeness, or the perception by others of such closeness.
Despite very different values and tactical preferences, Washington and Riyadh continue to share important strategic interests, and it would be the height of folly to throw them overboard because of misguided reactions to recent events.
Despite what divides them it's more than likely that for the foreseeable future the United States and Saudi Arabia will find a way to muddle through -- cooperating where they can and agreeing to disagree where they must.
Saudi Arabia may be far from perfect, but if the United States turns its back on its allies, the main loser will not be Saudi Arabia but rather America’s national security and the trust other allies are willing to place in Washington.
The overwhelming vote in Congress to override President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) bill will haunt U.S.-Saudi relations for years. It is a reflection of the growing weakness of America’s oldest alliance in the Middle East that goes well beyond 9/11.
The Obama administration has deepened its rift with its Gulf allies over the ongoing conflict in Yemen, blocking a transfer of precision munitions to Saudi Arabia because of concerns about civilian casualties that administration officials attribute to poor targeting.
The only place Saudi tanks are in combat are along the Saudi–Yemeni border in the Kingdom's southwest where the Houthi rebels have been surprisingly effective in striking targets inside Saudi Arabia since the start of the war sixteen months ago.
Workshop participants analyzed the Saudi-Iran rivalry—in particular its evolution, drivers, current manifestations, and plausible trajectories—while assessing policy options to help manage the conflict.
The Saudis no doubt can find aspects of a possible Trump foreign policy that they can embrace and other aspects that may be sources of concern or disagreement. Riyadh will be waiting and watching to see whether rhetoric ultimately matches up to reality.