The United States of America is well known country for the people around the world. It’s well known for its wealth, its business opportunities, movie industry, and many others things. On the other side, many people do not even recognize Saudi Arabia. For them it is only poor country in the Middle East where dominates Muslims religion. It seems that these countries are very different, maybe that they are the exact opposites. Even though these countries have nothing in common, they are cooperating in many areas. The relationship of these two countries has been getting stronger over decades.
It might seem suspicion that the big and wealthy country such as the United States of America is cooperating with the small country Saudi Arabia. On the other side for the United States of America, Saudi Arabia has become an important county for many reasons. Behind endeavor of the US to developed cooperation and good relationship with Saudi Arabia, is not only to provide help to that region but ensuring their self interest at the first place. Saudi Arabia is a hometown of Islam and two holies shrines which is Mecca and Medina. The official title of the king is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The modern Saudi state was recognized by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD in 1932 as a cause of thirty years campaign to unite most of Arabian Peninsula . After the invasion of Iraq to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia accepted Kuwaiti Royal family and 400,000 refugees and permit Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for liberation of Kuwait. This liberation had become a conflict between royal family and public until the US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attack which happened in May and November 2003 resulted in the campaign against terrorism and extremists. The country has become a leading producer of oil and natural gas.
It actually holds one quarter of world reserves. This country has pursued its economic reform and promoted foreign investment mainly since its accession to WTO in December 2005. The Saudi Arabia has an oil based economy where the government controls major economic activities. GDP per capita was $13,800 in 2006. Moreover, the area of Saudi Arabia represents one fifth of the size of the United States of America. Its dominant religion is Muslim (CIA, 2007a). The United States of America was recognized in 1776 after Britain’s American colonies broke with the mother country following the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
As the nation expanded through the North American continent, 37 new states were added to the original amount of 13 states. Civil War (1861-65) and Great Depression in 1930 was the two major events which affects this country. Due to World War I, World War II, and Cold war, the United States of America has become the most powerful nation state. The economy growths, unemployment and inflation are low. This country has one of the most powerful economies with a per capita GDP of $43,500. Majority of Americans are protestant 52%, followed by Roman Catholic 24%, Mormon 2%, Jewish 1%, and Muslim (CIA, 2007b).
If these countries are compared it seems they do not have anything common. The United States of America has a much large area and much higher per capita GDP. Moreover, the political regime is different and their citizens have different religions. Despite these differences, it is the self interest of the United States of America to cooperate with Saudi Arabia. The United States of America started to cooperate with Saudi Arabia as soon as it found out that this cooperation would be very beneficial for the country. The US cooperation with Saudi Arabia started when Saudi Arabia found its oil reserves.
To illustrate, “By the early 1940s, the extent of Saudi oil resources had become known, and the United States petroleum companies that held the concession to develop the oil fields” (Metz, 1992, para. 1). The United States of America belongs to the countries those oil consumption is high and Saudi Arabia had huge oil reserves, which was the reason this county had become interesting for America. This oil reserves may support Americans also in the future, so it is the American self interest to tight this relation. The oil resource is not the only reason for the United States of America to collaborate with Saudi Arabia.
Another reason of their cooperation is the location of Saudi Arabia. The United States of America has found its strategic partner in the Middle East whose location became very useful for the county’s interest in that area. Several times the soil of Saudi Arabia was used by the US army. To illustrate, “Washington dispatched more than 400,000 troops to the kingdom to ward off potential aggression” (Metz,1992, para. 4). US took a big advantage of the cooperation with Saudi Arabia. They use this country as a base for their military force in the conflict with the other countries located in that region.
The about mentioned facts proves that the United States of America started to cooperate with Saudi Arabia mainly due to its huge oil reserves and its strategic location. Even though these countries started to cooperate in oil field, their opinions differ in many other areas. After the Arab- Israeli war in 1967, the United States support Israel while Saudi Arabia was in favor of PLO. Moreover, during Iran- Iraq war in 1980-1981, Saudis leaned toward Baghdad while Americans inclined toward Teheran (Quandt, 1981). So, from 60s to 80s, the opinion of Saudi Arabia was very diverse with the opinion of United States of America.
Moreover, they have a different approach in other regional issues. For example, North Yemen was country important for Saudi Arabia, but Washington did not support policy of Saudi Arabia towards Sanaa. This conflict provides opportunity for North Yemen government to play one off against the other(Quandt, 1981). Hence, the view and approaches of these two countries has varied around 80s. The United States of America did not provide Saudi Arabia by financially aid to help the country, but it only invested money for its own benefits.
Saudi Arabia belonged to poorest countries which among other states need financial aid from other countries to improve its economy. The United States of America as a wealthy country and a trading partner of Saudi Arabia should invest its money to help the country in the most needed sectors. Instead of the help, it rather invested its money to build the army. To illustrate, Saudi Arabia received by the year 1975, the support amount of $328. 4 million. The most of this help was used to build the army, approximately 295 million (Prados &Blanchard, 2006) .
It seems that around 90% of US financial support was used to improve the army in that region. So, the purpose of this money was not to help the country to decrease poverty, increase the level of education, and improve other sectors which need it. The purpose of United States of America was to improve military sector of its strategic partner in Middle East. Moreover, this money does not really represent the aid because most of it was in the form of loan. “Approximately 20% of total aid was in the form of grants and 80% in loans, all of which have been repaid”(Prados, 1996, para. 35).
It proves that United States of America did not donate Saudi Arabia. It rather invested its money into the country which has strategic position in the Middle East. The United States of America seems to be very expedient because they looked like hero for helping another country, but they knew that they would get this money back and then benefit from its use. This financial aid was not only used to build the army but also to tight their relationship, which also mainly benefit American side. Because of already mentioned financial help from Americans, Saudi Arabia has become dependent from the United States and could not afford to loose it.
The fact that proves this statement is that Saudi Arabia in response for the US investment had to cooperate with US in the Iraq war event though it was against their will. “King Fahd stated that Saudi Arabia “will not participate in any way” in the war (Prodos, 2006). Obviously, country itself as well as its citizens at the beginning did not want to participate in the US- Iraq war, they did not want to fight for the United States. Their opinion had changed, and they finally supported US troops. “Saudi Arabia informally agreed to provide logistical support to U. S. -led forces” (Prados& Blangard, 2006,p. 11).
The main reason for Saudi Arabia was to maintain their future relationship with the United States of America. “After the war, Saudi Arabia again faced the prospect of congressional opposition to its requests for weapons. Riyadh believed that it cooperation in the war against Iraq demonstrated the legitimacy of its defense requirements” (Saudi Arabia, 2007, para 5). Even thought Congress did not want to approve requirement of Saudi Arabia, it finally did due to its help of US troops in Iraq. ((Saudi Arabia, 2007). So, the cooperation in the war against Iraq, was the reason of another help from US to Saudi.
It seems that Saudi Arabia has changed its opinion about the war in Iraq and has finally supported US army because they were afraid of consequences. Moreover, it is mainly United States of America which prospers from its commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia. The trade with Saudi Arabia benefits mainly US economy. To illustrate, from the year 1997 to 2002 the overall American export was in amount of $39 billion. For the last twenty years the American largest supplier of oil was Saudi Arabia which was averaged around 1. 5 million barrels per day (mmb/d).
The other home suppliers such as Texas and Alaska together represent only about 1. 2 or 1. 0 mmb/d. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is not only the major supplier of the United States, it supply it allies in Asia and Pacific. So, Saudi Arabian export of oil is large compare to its non- oil export which represents in average of $0. 5-1. 0 billion per year. Especially non oil sectors are important for Saudi Arabia. This country needs investment of American companies in other fields as well. (Taecker, 2003) Saudi Arabia has become an important supplier worldwide, and it is important supplier for both the United States as well as its allies.
On the other side, for non-oil products there is a little interest. Furthermore, the American economy grows due to visit of Saudis, doing business, spending money on attraction and in the shopping malls. Due to their cooperation billions of dollars were added to American domestic GDP. (Taecker, 2003) So, Americans are earning a lot of money because of the Saudis visits and their willingness to spend the money in that region. On the other side, it seems that Saudi Arabian important trading partners US, only take what they need, and do not help the county to export other products which would help their economy as well.
Finally, Saudi Arabia helps to the United States of America to prosecute terrorist after the September 11 terrorist attack. Saudi Arabians was highly criticized after September 11, 2001 by both American government and its citizens. Mainly, Saudi Arabia was criticized for its lack of acting against terrorist groups because high percentage from the terrorist was Saudi nationality. It was criticized that it actually produced climate as a cause of terrorist act (Quandt, 1981). Due to the high critique from the American side, Saudi Arabia started to cooperate with the United State.
To illustrate, the citizenship of Osama bin Laden who found to be responsible for the attack was revoked. Moreover Saudi Arabia in October 2001 adopted U. N. Security Council Resolution 1373 which froze accounts of terrorists and their allies. It also attends conferences of FATF which was focus on the topic on “terrorist use of charitable organizations to finance terrorist operations” (Prados, 2006, p. 15). Furthermore, it adopted resolution called Riyadh Declaration which is against violence and terrorism. Saudi Arabia has also established program to reeducate the sympathizers of Al Qaeda.
Finally, it cached and or killed 19 wanted terrorist from the list of May 2003 and other 26 who were on the second lost published in December 2003 (Prados, 2006). Saudi Arabia due to negative attitude of American established policies, adopted UN Resolution to persuade Americans about their willingness to help them. Their endeavor leads to prosecution of the most wanted terrorist by American. Maybe, America would not be able to find these terrorist without the help of Saudi Arabia and maybe it would be more difficult for American.
Anyways, America again achieves its goal due to help of Saudi Arabia. The reason for the United States of America to cooperate with Saudi Arabia is mainly to guarantee their self interest. The United of America started to cooperate with Saudi Arabia after Saudis found huge oil reserves. Moreover, the United States of America get a partner with strategic location in Middle East. Even though the opinions of these two countries in many areas were different especially during the 1980s, American continues to cooperate with Saudis.
Manly, it is the United States of America benefiting from the cooperation. The country use Saudis soil as a base for its army, and it gets oil from the country. Moreover, the United States of America is earning billions of dollars due to commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia. Not only their commercial relationship is beneficial for Americans, but also their willingness to find and prosecute terrorists. Due to help of Saudi Arabia, American was able to prosecute more terrorists after the September 11. Saudi Arabia is useful for American which is the main reason of their cooperation.
Courtney from Study Moose