Understanding the Saudi Arabia-United States Alliance

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The American Saudi-Alliance: Delaying the Inevitable?

The informal alliance between the United States of America and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will inevitably collapse. Since initial cooperation in 1943, when American President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the defence of Saudi Arabia as critical to American interests, the alliance has continued to deteriorate. By developing its capabilities, America is acquiring the means to gather sufficient supplies of oil without having to depend on Saudi oil production. Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly nervous that the existing agreement can no longer guarantee its national security, as the provision of genuine assistance to Saudi appears increasingly inconsistent with American interests. To America and Saudi, combining capabilities is becoming less attractive, as the alliance no longer seems to further their respective interests and thereby facilitate relative power gains. The American-Saudi alliance is gradually reaching its inevitable end, to which changing perceptions of threat (Walt, 1985; Walt, 1997) and declining credibility (Walt, 1997; Walt, 2009) are catalyst.

There is a consensus among scholars that the American-Saudi alliance has become weak and fragile. Conversely, the conditions of the immediate post-World War Two and Cold War periods are believed to have nurtured the alliance. America’s interest in acquiring superior access to Middle Eastern oil, to secure its position as an emerging superpower complimented Saudi’s desire for military support that would guarantee its national security (Long, 1997; Al-Rasheed, 2002; Lippman, 2004). Furthermore, atheistic communism presented a common external threat to both American and Saudi interests, and so the alliance remained str...

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