The US-Saudi Arabia Relations
The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has strengthened over the years despite cultural and political differences. The main reason is the US dependence on Saudi Arabia oil. The origin of their relationship dates back to the early years of the Second World War, during Roosevelt administration (Long, 1985). This also works in favor of Saudi Arabia because it gets security as the countrys location is politically and economically unstable. Besides oil, Saudi Arabia has become important to the United States due to several reasons including its geographical position, being placed it in the Middle East it is able to protect from crashes Israel and Yemen among other countries. Also Saudis effort at war against terror is very important for the United States as it helps to maintain peace in the region.
The US Oil Security
Saudi Arabia is an indispensable source of oil to the US. A recent research shows that the US import crude oil reserves comprise approximately 48% of the worlds total. The growing interest of Saudi Arabia is, without doubt, oil security. The United States relies on its oil for both economic and military purposes; therefore, a close relationship allows easier access to the valuable resource. Though the United States has diversified into alternative sources of energy and increased its domestic oil production, Saudi Arabias oil supply is considered very important. Saudi Arabia is the United States main supplier of oil and is also considered the countrys most stable and secure source. Saudi Arabia supplies approximately one million barrels per day to the United States; therefore its economy heavily depends on Saudi Arabia (Miller, 1980).
However, there is need for diversification of supplies resulting from an increase in oil prices and political instability in the Middle East which may cause disruption of oil routes, the Strait of Hormuz. The Caspian Sea basin has an abundant supply of oil and natural gas, which has been developed since Clinton administrations. The main objectives were to diversify oil supplies, protect oil companies and to disengage the Middle East states from Russian and Iranian influence.
Saudi Arabia works hard to ensure that there is oil stability guaranteed by its constant supply. It influences all other oil producers due to its status in the oil market and also as the main influencer of OPEC. It is the only member country that has the capability to increase its oil production fast enough to meet the increasing demand for oil. Consequently, it can reduce its production capacity when the demand is low. In other words, Saudi Arabia influences oil industry prices and availability. Therefore its energy security is very important to the US economy. The whole world relies on Saudi Arabia to keep the oil prices fair and reasonable in order to ensure there is global growth. Due to the overreliance of the United States economy on oil , both countries have always taken economic interests in their relations.
However, their oil relationship has a very long history. The Saudi Arabia national energy company was initially established by the United States. By 1960, Saudi Arabia had managed to regain full control over its oil industry. Since then, Saudi Arabia government has always engaged in fair oil pricing that allowed the two countries transfer the control which was completed in 1980.
Oil, which is a vital resource to the United States economy, can only be accessible because of their close relationship, then the countrys economy and military industry will work effectively.
Saudi Arabia covers most of the Arabian Peninsula, which is a very important location. Its location has played a major role in the United States involvement and interaction with the region. In addition, it is connected to the most important trading and shipping routes globally, such as the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, therefore the United States can control the shipping lanes and prevent piracy within the sea waters. Saudi Arabia plays a major role in the Middle East region, thus it is strategically important for the America to maintain a close relationship.
Saudi Arabia has always supported the U.S. government since 1990, when they endorsed Israel- Palestinian peace agreement. Saudi Arabia joined the Gulf States in an effort to terminate enforcement of an indirect boycott of Israel by adopting strategic approach to Palestinian- Israel peace making. Recently, Saudi Arabia has been maintaining a balance of commitment in order to offer peace on Israel demands, especially after Israel launched military attack on the Gaza Strip.
Besides Saudi Arabias help in the situation with Israel, its geographical location helps to focus on the area which is located between the Mediterranean and Hindu Kush. It is evident that the United State aims to maintain peace in the region, therefore, maintaining a close relationship will be vital to achieve its goal.
Saudi Arabias geographical position has helped control Palestinians Israelis and Iraqis and the Iranians. Each of these is very important in order to have peace in the region. However, the Iraqis and Iranians completely collapsed when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Recently, the continuation of war in Afghanistan has also destabilized Pakistan which is another important to the United States region,.
The United States is working with Saudi Arabia on plans to improve its capability in order to limit threats from Iran. It has enforced a large sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis military have always relied on the U.S. and their contract support. In addition, it is refurbishing its Saudis striking Aircraft in order to meet its objectives.
The arms transfer will assist in meeting the Saudis forces modernization concerns, providing a full operability with the U.S. forces. Also the kingdom was given the capability to protect its borders and coast against attacks.
On the other hand, the U.S. will use the arms as part of their strategy against the Iraqis to secure the flow of energy exports in terms of the worlds economy. Their cooperation will help the U.S. government to reduce the number of forces they will deploy in the region. This will ensure the U.S is strategically positioned in the region. However, the Saudis should not take the support for granted, especially after their miscalculation concerning Iraq.
Both countries have collaborated providing economic and security aid especially in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has not only helped in minimizing counterterrorism in Yemen but also struck their rebels who are believed to be from Iran. Their continued cooperation helps the Saudi Red Sea Fleet to reduce the threats of piracy.
War on Terror
The establishment of the US central command and military infrastructure in Saudi Arabia has been very important for various operations, for example, for 1991 Gulf War and the most recent Iraq and Afghanistan war. However, the 9/11 and other factors weakened the close relationship, which made the US and Saudi Arabia view each other as sources of insecurity (Bronson, 2006).
Due to the current increase in violence among the Palestinians and Israelis, it is necessary for the United States to work together with Saudi Arabia to involve all the sides in a peace agreement. Recently, the United States crowned Prince Abdullah, who is committed to taking serious strategies toward peace in the region. The involvement of both countries is very crucial, as it helps stop the violence and, finally reach the peace agreement.
Recently, the US president has announced that the military training programs in Saudi Arabia will continue as a sign of their continuous relationships. Both countries have always expressed concern over several issues including security, terrorism and nuclear weapons. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has also invested energy and resources in fighting terrorism both in the region and internationally. Therefore, the US continued cooperation concerning these efforts stating that it would be essential for prevention of a future terrorist attack and elimination of the existing terrorist groups.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia influence in the Middle East region has helped the US to increase its influence in the whole region facilitated by this partnership and a close relationship with the region. Collaboration with Saudi anti-terrorism agencies has facilitated the continued fight on 'war on terror' and elimination of extremism in the entire region. The United States Saudi Arabia cooperation has been very effective in minimizing international terrorism. This is evident due to the limited terrorist activity in the United States.
In 2003, Saudi Arabia established new laws and polices which were designed to combat terrorism in accordance with the United States standards as terrorist financing concerns persist. According to the country report, Saudi Arabia government has been keen on arresting terrorist financiers and also enacting a requirement to have large amount of money for any cross border transfer (Coll, 2008).
However, the U.S. counterterrorism officials have indicated there is on going terrorist financing which involves Saudi nationals. The United States government has praised Saudi Arabias efforts, but insists on more work to be done. The government is calling on the Saudis authorities to hold the financiers public accountable through prosecutions. Also it is important to fully implement the United Nations Security Council duties by establishing an oversight mechanism oversees. This will enhance Saudi Arabias control over overseas operations.
Saudi Arabia government insists that their effort to fight terrorist financiers should not be limited to those posing threats to the kingdom but should be very intensive and robust to protect the world. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) showed its effort to strengthen charitable organization when it issued a new bank account to those who were of concern to terrorist financiers in 2008 (Vitalis, 2006).
Saudi Arabia has joined the global initiative that is aimed to fight nuclear terrorism, where the country aims at minimizing the threats associated with weapons of mass destructions and other related activities.The U.S. government has indicated that both countries have agreed to collaborate in protecting the kingdoms energy by safeguarding borders and expanding the energy in an environmental friendly manner. In addition, there are ongoing discussions concerning the establishment of a training program that will allow the Saudi security forces to gain the skills to protect energy.
In addition to the benefits related to oil industry, security and war on terror, the United States has also benefited from trade in various sectors including transport, agriculture and medicine. There is a lot of trade between the two countries, where they rely on each others imports and exports. A recent research has indicated that the United States is the largest importer and exporter with Saudi Arabia (Aarts & Nonneman, 2006). Also, Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter to the United States in the Middle East region. Therefore, the trading relationship is vital for both economies.
The United States has interest in maintaining close relationship with Saudi Arabia. They include ensuring that the oil supply is not interrupted, defeating the Islamist terrorists groups targeting the United States, and maintaining power balance due to its location and trade relationships. However, its main interests are oil that enables the economy to grow and also military that should be able to participate in operations.