How Saudi Arabia and the United States Have Grown Apart

(Foreign Policy) Simon Henderson - There are clear indications that Saudi King Abdullah, who visited the White House Tuesday, has put distance into the kingdom's relationship with the U.S. Though for many years the kingdom was the largest foreign supplier of oil to the U.S., it has now slipped behind Canada and Mexico. With the years of ritual denunciations from both Bush and Obama regarding U.S. "dependence on foreign oil," the net result is less U.S. influence in Saudi Arabia. On Iran, there is a widening if not unbridgeable gap between the two countries. The kingdom's own signals might well include the June 12 London Times story which reported that the kingdom would allow Israeli jets to fly over its territory to complete a bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities. Although officially denied by Saudi officials, the Times stood by its report. Its editor would not run such a story without being confident of the sources. The kingdom's own pursuit of (peaceful) nuclear energy is a clear sign that Riyadh thinks that the U.S. cannot or will not stop Iran's program. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2010-06-30 08:33:04

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