It’s hardly a secret for anyone that the United States and Saudi Arabia are longtime partners, hence Washington has historically been the guardian of Saudi interests in the Middle East. These special relations between the states were built back in the 1930s, when in exchange for security guarantees that were granted to the House of Saud, King Abdulaziz signed a decree that granted American companies an exclusive right to develop oil fields in the eastern parts of the country. And over half a century the security for oil formula has been a solid basis for sound bilateral relations between the US and Saudi Arabia.
Following the announcement of a new oil policy that was brought around by the Roosevelt administration in 1944, that encouraged Western companies to seek an active production of oil outside the United States to ensure the economic security of the country, Mobil, Exxon and Texaco started investing heavily in Saudi economy. However, Saudi Arabia was not getting an adequate share of profits from its own oil, as multinational corporations were getting the better part of the income from trade.
The uneven distribution of oil revenues pushed the Saudi leaders into turning to other oil-exporting countries for them to protect their interests, which resulted in the creation of a new cartel, namely OPEC. This allowed oil exporters to adjust the price and volume of production of their oil. However, in 1973 the US had a chance to taste the medicine of this organization when a so-called “Arab boycott” cast a severe blow to the US economy. The boycott was a response to the ongoing support of Israel that Washington displayed when the former entered a war with Egypt.
However, Washington has not turned its back on its Arab partners, instead it did its best to mend the damaged relations in order to prevent such embargoes in the future. These attempts resulted in the creation of a US-Saudi Joint Economic Commission (JECOR), which target was to achieve the modernization of the kingdom with the extensive amount of help from American companies. This step did not simply allowed Washington to obtain a reliable source of revenues from the modernization of the economy and defense capabilities of the KSA, but ensured a steady supply of oil that was sold to American companies at a reasonable price. The ultimate sacrifice that the House of Saud had to make to obtain all the benefits was Saudi Arabia’s independence.
When Obama took the office, bilateral relations between the two countries received a new boost: the turnover in comparison with 2000 has tripled, reaching the level of 60 billion dollars. Moreover, Saudi Arabia ranked eighth among the trade partners of the United States. However, if Washington used to look at Saudi Arabia as a valuable oil supplier, now the situation is changing. The International Energy Agency has already stated that by 2020 America will be able to completely abandon the import of fuel.
As the political map of the world is changing so are Washington’s objectives and goals in the Middle East. In just twelve years the Arab world has been completely destroyed by the United States. Today it is marked by chaos, anarchy and bloodshed. Nobody perceives the League of Arab States as a legitimate power anymore, despite the influence it once enjoyed. Therefore the plan that was drafted for the White House by US think tanks implies no reliance on former allies like Saudi Arabia, instead Washington is going to seek the establishment of two centers of power – a Shiite Iran and a Sunni Turkey that will compete for dominance in the chaos riddled region.
The US plan to redraw the Middle East and achieve a transformation of the Arabian Peninsula is hardly a secret for anyone since it was revealed back in 2006. According to this plan drafted by Ralph Peters, the Saudi kingdom is to be divided into three parts: the “Islamic Vatican” in the face of Mecca and Medina, the desert where camels and kings can enjoy themselves, and the eastern oil region dominated by Shiites, that will be a part of a larger Shia state.
To some extent, the perception of Saudi Arabia’s future in Pentagon can be summarized by a lecture that Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley gave at the Military Academy in Norfolk. According to him there’s a global anti-terrorist campaign in the making, to which he referred to as the “total war”, which implies the creation of preconditions of famine in Saudi Arabia that then must be followed by the complete destruction of Mecca and Medina.
In international politics the breaking of alliances rarely occurs openly and deliberately, if there was no abrupt change of power in one of the allied states. The relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have recently been marked by hidden contradictions and the ongoing deterioration. The House of Saud was repelled by the fact that Americans refused to launch a military operation against Syria, then in spite of requests from the US, Saudi Arabia rejected the status of the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and later on Riyadh sharply opposed the nuclear agreement with Iran. The Iranian issue has become one of the “red line” beyond which lies the field of open confrontation between the former allies.
Saudi political elites are particularly unhappy with the fact that Washington bears no responsibility for its actions, while manipulating Saudi Arabia in a position of weakness. It all began with Afghanistan, where the United States created Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden on the money they borrowed from the KSA. But then when bin Laden was not a valuable asset anymore they just pushed blame on Saudi Arabia and the world was compelled to believe that Saudis are the true sponsors of international terrorism.
Riyadh perceives Obama’s policy of normalizing relations with Tehran as the beginning of a new stage of transformation of the geopolitical structure of the Middle East. Saudi monarchy can hardly be satisfied with the fact that in the foreseeable future Iran could militarily and economically reach the position of a regional superpower, the one which the House of Saud will not be able to ignore. Therefore, in response for the ongoing settlement of the Iran nuclear program crisis, Saudi Arabia resorted to a blackmail by threatening other states that it may get nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Just like Israeli politicians, Saudis fear that once everything is set and down with Tehran, the US will leave the region for the taking, and Iran would need little time to exploit this fact.
In this context, it is quite remarkable that when this January President Obama visited the Kingdom to attend the funeral of the former king, King Salman, in clear violation of diplomatic protocol, interrupted the meeting with the American president and left him, his wife and his staff alone in order to commit a noon prayer. American media sources did not report anything on the incident, and only the Qatari television network “Al Jazeera” released information about this insult. The next step in the alienation of Saudi Arabia was the refusal to accept Obama’s invitation to the international summit on security issues at Camp David, that was voiced by the Saudi king.
According to unofficial reports, in connection with this situation, Saudi diplomats have already been instructed to limit their contacts with their American counterparts to the necessary minimum. In addition, the Kingdom has already begun to look for new partners, that can be a valuable asset for their oil industry and the main supplier of weapons for its armed forces. A special emphasis is being put on Russia and China.
Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.