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Saudi-US relations: Reliable Strategic Partnership

Saudi-US political relations

Since the beginning of contemporary Saudi-US relations in 1945, the two allied countries continued to support the stability of oil prices, the stability of oil fields and shipping in the Arabian Gulf, and the stability of the economies of Western countries. 

Saudi-US relations witnessed a great rapprochement after President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, which was his first foreign trip since he became president of the US.

On his visit to Riyadh in March 2018, US President Donald Trump met the Saudi government as an offer of diplomacy and as a political move to open Saudi-US trade relations. Reuters reported that the Saudi government has pledged $40 billion (brokered by Blackstone Investments and the Saudi Public Investment Fund) to Donald Trump’s ambitious infrastructure plan.

However, in November 2018, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia strengthened when Trump nominated John Abizaid, a retired Arabic-speaking US Army general, as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-US relations started in 1933, when the early economic cooperation between the two countries began, represented by the Arab American Oil Company drilling the first oil well in the eastern part of the Kingdom. 

Then the American oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia asked Washington to play a greater role in ensuring security and political stability in the Gulf, which prompted US President Roosevelt in 1943 to declare that defending the Kingdom was a vital interest of the US. 

Then he sent the first US military mission to Saudi Arabia and met in 1945 with King Abdulaziz on the deck of a steamer in the Suez Canal, the meeting that “inaugurated” the US-Saudi relations, and whatever the importance of the “foundation” phase in those relations, the strategy announced by President Eisenhower in January of 1957 marked the beginning of the Saudi-US “political partnership”. 

 The selection of King Abdul Aziz in the list of leaders to meet President Roosevelt was an indication of the speed with which the American strategic mindset and its deep view of the strategic importance of the Gulf region developed in the post-war period.

Saudi-US Diplomatic Ties

 Many military advisors of US President Roosevelt alerted that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very important politically and economically to the US. From that time on, America began to take a real interest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It began to take an interest in the personality of King Abdul Aziz as an Arab hero who could, in some way, be of assistance in solving some problems that the president knows are undoubtedly coming to this region of the world, especially the problem of Palestine.

Saudi-American relations started positively when the US decided to have diplomatic representatives in the Kingdom. James Moss was the first US diplomat to reside in Jeddah.

Strong ties with Saudi royal family 

The two former presidents of the US, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have close and strong ties with senior members of the Saudi royal family.

King Abdulaziz Al Saud accepted the American offer to explore for oil, hoping that his land would have valuable materials that would support the country’s economy.

With the progress of World War II, the US began to believe that Saudi oil was of strategic importance and as a result began to press for more control over the California Arabian Standard Oil concession in the interest of national security. On February 16, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that “the defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is essential to the defense of the US.”

After World War II in 1945, the Saudi government and officials saw American forces as the main component of the Saudi military defense strategy. As a result, King Abdulaziz increased the demands on American forces to be in Dhahran.

Under a mutual defense agreement concluded in 1951, the US established a permanent military training mission in the Kingdom and agreed to provide training support in the use of weapons and other security services to the Saudi armed forces.

Over the years, there have been many agreements and aspects of cooperation between the US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including those agreements:-

The agreement to strengthen trade and investment relations, which was signed by the two countries on July 31, 2003, resulted in the establishment of the Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council, which is headed by the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Technical Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US, according to which the two parties seek to expand Saudi-US cooperation in the field of economy, technology and industry between them.

A secured private investment agreement between the two sides in order to increase the participation of American private companies in projects aimed at introducing modern technology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-American Joint Committee, headed on the Saudi side by the Ministry of Finance.

Agreement to establish a Saudi-US strategic dialogue to consolidate relations, in 2005 AD, on institutional bases, and open a wider field for the concerned officials in the two countries to communicate directly with each other. 

The Saudi-US strategic dialogue is chaired by the foreign ministers of the two countries. It included six working groups in military affairs, consular affairs, economic affairs, energy affairs, counter-terrorism, education and cultural exchange. 

The visa validity period for citizens of the two countries was extended through the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2008, under which each country grants the citizens of the other country multiple-entry visas for a period of five years, for students, tourists and businessmen. The agreements seek to encourage investment, and facilitate the exchange of visits between officials and businessmen.

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