Relations Between the United States and the Saudi Arabia


It is difficult to find two countries that are absolutely different in their ideology, but cooperate productively with each other without armed and political confrontations. The diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Stated started in 1933, and since then the democratic republic, and the Islamic and ultraconservative monarchy are allies.

Though, the history of the diplomatic relations between the two states is quite ambiguous. Despite the long lasting cooperation according to the scheme “oil on reduced prices for military support”, the controversies exist. It is possible to assume that despite the existing close cooperation in the military and energy producing fields between the countries, both the US, and the Saudi Arabia guard their own interests in the first place, and only then consider their mutual diplomatic agreements.

The Key Points in Relations of the United States and the Saudi Arabia

The discovery of oil in the Saudi Arabia changed the status of the country on the international arena. The abundance of natural resources made the state attractive for the investors, and the appearance of the foreigners in the extremely conservative Islamic state was the first step to the inner reformation of the Saudi Arabia. The money from the concessions of oil helped the country to develop and to increase the level of life of its citizens. At the same time, it opened promising opportunities for further cooperation with the main investor into the Saudi economy, the United States.

The profit from oil concession became completely evident to the Saudi King Abdul Aziz in 1945, when the American government felt the urgent necessity in oil to supply their army. The current President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt considered the Saudi oil to be the top priority for national security, which accelerated the process of diplomatic discussions between the heads of the countries (House of Saud #Documentary).

In the result of these negotiations, a pact was signed between the United States and the Saudi Arabia. Low prices on oil for the United States were set in exchange for the military protection. The US guaranteed its partners absolute protection from all enemies. The military base in Dharhan was built soon after the negotiations. The army of the Saudi Arabia received professional training from their American colleagues and technical assistance (House of Saud #Documentary).

Guarding Own Interests

It is problematic to state who profited more from the agreements that were reached in 1945 during the Yalta Conference (House of Saud #Documentary). Even the most well-known facts from the history of the relations of the two allies on the highest level show that despite all proclamations, both sides thought about their own interests first, which is logical.

The building of the military base in the Saudi Arabia was already mentioned. It was initially done as the part of the pact between the leaders of the two countries and it was the desire of the Saudi King. Though, it is possible to assume that the United States only profited from the help they gave to the Saudi Arabia. It actually meant the increase of the military presence of the US army in the Gulf region, from which they were able to control the situation in the neighbor countries. The situation with the Palestine and Israel soon showed, that the American government does not shun to execute their military influence in the region (Wawro 56).

It is necessary to mention the attitude to each other that existed from the beginning of the US – Saudi relations. The differences in the world view, the cultures, the traditions, and the priorities of the countries are serious. To start with, the idea to invite the foreigners to invest into the Saudi economy was considered by the Islamic scholars affronting. The King managed to explain to everyone, that his actions were not against the Quran. He asserted that he was going to utilize those who were not Muslims like Prophet Mohammed Saleem used Christians and Jews (House of Saud #Documentary). Judging by this episode, it is possible to assume that the Saudi side did not perceive the Americans as their friends or masters. Even though the Saudi Arabia was not a rich country before oil was found there, they made all possible attempts not to become overly dependent from the United States, and always guarded their own well-being.

However, if the Saudi Arabia was using the assistance of the United Stated to enrich their own country and make it more safe without breaking the diplomatic protocol, the American officials often allowed themselves to insult their new allies in the beginning of their cooperation. For example, in 1945 William Eddy called the Saudi Arabia the country that became comparatively important only because of the oil resources on its territory (Wawro 72). Wawro (84-85) mentions the situation that happened in 1944 after the shipping of riyals to Jedda’s royal palace. The Am-erican officers decided that it was necessary to picture the grateful King of the Saudi Arabia for the US press, and make the Saudi officials understand that they should be grateful to the generous Americans. Such behavior was was extremely offensive to the Saudi government, and was one of the proofs that the representatives of the United States did not care much about the feelings and self esteem of their partners and allies in the Middle East.

The creation of Israel is another issue that supports the idea that despite long term cooperation, both the US and the Saudi Arabia are guided only by their own interests. When Roosevelt asked King Abdul Aziz about his position concerning the creation of the Israel state, the answer was negative, and there was an agreement not to make such decisions without the consent of the Arabic side. However, Israel was created, and such attitude to the opinion of the Saudi Arabia was considered to be an affront (Wawro 91).

The House of Saud perceived the Jews only as “land grabbers” and “marauders”, as Wawro (93) writes in his book. The total support that Washington gave to the Zionists made the Saudi Arabia think that the United States are not against the “total annihilation of the Arab race” (House of Saud #Documentary). The campaign of the administration of George W. Bush against extremely friendly attitude of the US government to the Arab countries has lead to the beginning of the active fight with terrorists in the Middle East, and as the result to closer political and military friendship with Israel. It is evident that such changes in priorities of the United States reassured the Saudi Arabia to guard only their own interests.


The most interesting issue in the diplomatic relations between the US and the House of Saud is the fact that they still do not lose their value despite numerous insults the countries have made to each other. The United States continue to buy oil on reduced prices, the Saudi Arabia still uses the American military protection. Certain arguable issues like the position concerning the Palestinian question makes the House of Saud think twice about its own state interests. The constantly developing conflict reminds them that despite all diplomatic agreements and pacts, only mutual profit can keep the ally within the limits of courtesy. Such position is rather rational and supported by the experience from the recent history.

Works Cited

Essam Elnady. “House of Saud #Documentary.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Wawro, Goeffrey. Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East. Penguin, 2010. Print.

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