Q&A on Saudi-American Relations

Q.    What’s your perspective on U.S.-Saudi relations from their beginning till now?

A. The U.S. has been entangled in Saudi fortunes through the engagement of America I the Saudi oil industry. American entrepreneurs helped to create ARAMCO and the American public is dependent on Saudi oil. This entanglement has made the Saudi’s an American client state. Their common enemy of the Soviet Union during the Cold War reinforced the alliance and their common enemy in Iran perpetuates that alliance.  

Q.    What are the most prominent points of cooperation between the two countries?

A. Except for a temporary alienation during the Arab oil embargo it has been oil and, as mentioned above, a common enemy in the Soviet Union until its fall and in Iran since the Iranian Revolution.

Q.    There have been some times in history where the relations have been tested (9/11, murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) – were there any changes in the relationship over time?

A. 9/11 and the murder of Jamal Kashoggi have hurt American popular opinion of Saudi Arabia, but have not substantially impacted the alliance. Warming relationship of the relationship between Saudis and Israel has coincided with stronger American support for arming the Saudi regime.

Q.    How would you evaluate relations under the Obama’s administration?

A. Obama’s pro-democracy speech in Egypt caused some concerns about the relationship, but subsequently policies demonstrated business as usual.

Q.    How would you evaluate relations under the Trump’s administration?

A. Relations have strengthened under the Trump administration.

Q.    Will the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act affect the relations between the two countries? How?

A. Saudi threats to retaliate for the passage of the act by selling U.S. Treasuries have not come to pass. It is not clear that the plaintiffs will meet the burden of proving Saudi government complicity in sponsoring the 9/11 attacks. Saudis may end up pleased of the act ends up being used against states Muslim-majority republics like Turkey.

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