The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established on September 23, 1932 in a far different world than we see today. One that even with the benefit of hindsight few people today would be able to comprehend with true understanding.
Founded at the height of the age of empires and during the depths of the Great Depression. When Adolph Hitler was on the ascendancy in Germany and his National Socialist German Workers Party was on the verge of assuming power.
The year of 1932 is when Joseph Stalin was truly beginning the implementation of his quest for total and absolute power inside Russia which would later culminate in the Great Purge. The previous year before the founding of Saudi Arabia, the initial foreshadowing of World War II was just beginning to show itself in Northeast Asia with The Empire of Japan’s invasion and conquest of Chinese Manchuria.
At this time the League of Nations, the first attempt to establish a forum for global cooperation, would begin a process that would lead to organizational failure and in the end a place in the history books. Economic collapse, unemployment, hunger, despair, and uncertainty would’ve abounded in the Western World while international commerce would come to a grinding halt.
The beginning of the ascendancy for the belligerent, revisionist and authoritarian powers would see them take their initial steps in their respective bids for global domination brought by imperial conquest obtained by the sword. That would’ve been the composite picture of the world when Saudi Arabia was founded by King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Saud.
The country founded in this tumultuous year of 1932 would ultimately outlast Lenin’s Bolshevik Russia, the 1000 year Reich of Hitler’s Germany, the British Empire, and even the ensuing Cold War that followed World War II. Like other countries, Saudi Arabia would have its own arc in history and it would be a surprising one. It is here the story begins.
Saudi Arabia stands at the very frontline of issues that currently confront the global community and is partnered with countries that are among the most important in today’s geopolitical orderFaisal Al-Shammeri
In November 1931, United States extended full diplomatic recognition to Saudi Arabia, which had been the hope of King Abdulaziz, and in November 1931 this would also include favored nation status as well.
In May 1933, the California Arabian Standard Oil Company began to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia and thanks to the great efforts of our American friends was subsequently found. On February 16th, 1943 President Roosevelt stated that “the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital for the defense of the United States” which began to deepen the relationship between the two countries.
Where this relationship truly began to grow is at the Yalta Conference on the Crimea Peninsula in February 1945. The famous conference where British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt would meet to decide post-war Europe and the future conduct of the yet unfinished part of World War II which was still raging in The Pacific.
History remembers the picture of these three leaders sitting alongside one another for the press at Yalta. However, it is at Yalta where another meeting would take place. It is here where President Roosevelt would meet with King Abdulaziz aboard The USS Quincy on February 14th, 1945. It is at Yalta where the first links in the US-Saudi relationship would be strategically connected forming the basis for what would become one of the most important relationships in the world.
Of all the meetings and topics of discussion at Yalta among the leaders of the victorious Allied Powers this meeting of President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz would result in a geopolitical reality that exists to this very day. The postwar realities of Central and Eastern Europe, and the subsequent Cold War between the superpowers would come and go including its Iron Curtain but not the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. It would outlast everything discussed at Yalta.
During the Cold War and afterward our two countries shared the same strategic concerns. Saudi Arabia was staunchly opposed to the spread of communism and worked with the United States to achieve this mutually shared objective. During the First Gulf War Saudi Armed Forces conducted bombing raids inside Iraq and committed ground forces alongside the US to support the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait.
We believe in stability of oil prices and investment in the economies of Western Countries, like the US. We believe in investing in Western countries not only for the opportunities they present but to support the strategic partners of Washington as well. We believe in protecting the security of international commerce at sea and the freedom of navigation everywhere in the world, like the US.
We believe in taking a proactive posture in the fight against terrorism and the terrorists who use this sadistic instrument to achieve their nefarious aims, like the United States. Terrorists who threaten Americans and the Western world threaten the well-being of Saudi citizens as well, along with the Muslim World and humanity as a whole.
We have long believed in the warmth and upright character of the American people and the value provided by American educators where we send the majority of our sons and daughters to receive higher education. Currently we have the fourth largest group of foreign-born students currently studying in the United States.
We trust the American people with their safety and are grateful to not only have these expectations consistently met without worry, but to witness with our own eyes their growth they are able to demonstrate here when they return home. Very few people, if any, at the time of Yalta would’ve taken the bet if you had told them that this friendship which was truly struck aboard the USS Quincy between President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz would’ve resulted in what we see today.
If we had told our grandparents and great grandparents then what American-Saudi relationship would be today it would’ve been very difficult to impress upon them this reality of this future.
Today American Presidents come to visit Riyadh as partners of the highest strategic order, for both sides. In the 21st Century Saudi Arabia finds itself at the very forefront of the global community with a large presence in the region and beyond. We are the only Arab country with membership in the G-20.
Bridge to Asia
Today we are the bridge from Europe into the Middle East and beyond to Asia itself. We express a great deal of gratitude to the United States and the American people who have been invaluable friends to us during our rise.
Saudi Arabia is one of the first and initial signatories of the United Nations Charter established in the last months of World War II. The previously mentioned California Arabian Standard Oil Company which began work in May of 1933 would become Saudi Aramco, one of the largest companies the world has ever seen.
This is just one of the many ripened fruits of this relationship that developed since November 1931. Today Americans, and for the many decades following the work began in May 1933, work inside the Kingdom in highly-skilled professions for salaries that sometimes exceed what can be earned in the United States.
Saudi Arabia stands at the very frontline of issues that currently confront the global community and is partnered with countries that are among the most important in today’s geopolitical order. Under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom finds itself fortunate to have astute, capable, and serious leadership who can offer credibility to our willingness to work directly with our friends in the multitude of issues we collectively face.
Currently we have a world of instability, uncertainty, and in some cases submerged in extreme pain, despair, sadism and even death. Saudi Arabia stands directly alongside our friends, the United States, against the belligerent and revisionist powers who offer a future of the most nefarious manner to humanity.
Saudi Arabia is a capable, willing, and serious partner in the most important issue of our lifetimes, the war against terrorism. At this very moment we have the very best our country can offer, our brave soldiers, fighting inside Yemen for our peace, security and well-being of our citizenry.
Recently a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer, the USS Mason, was targeted by the very opponent we are currently facing while conducting it’s right to transit internationally recognized waters. Fortunately, nobody was injured or harmed. But this fight where we have committed our very best is against an opponent who represents a collection of interests who not only directly threaten our citizenry, but also the strategic interests of the United States.
They deliberately seek confrontation with the best and bravest of the United States has to offer as well. It has been mentioned in only two cases where the US has a “Special Relationship,” which is with Great Britain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To us this is an honor of the highest magnitude to have the privilege to be considered as such.
We reciprocate such sentiments a thousand-fold to the United States and the American People. As a country we will never forget where we have come from and where we began. We honor that by knowing where we are today, and what the possibilities for our future can be if we give a responsible awareness and respect to our past.
We in Saudi Arabia we look to this “Special Relationship” as one of the greatest legacies King Abdulaziz left us. Saudi Arabia today would not be recognizable to either President Roosevelt or King Abdulaziz. They would not have been able to predict the arc of this partnership they forged on the USS Quincy.
Of all the relationships that the US forged with an eye for the post World War II world in the last days of that brutal conflict hardly anyone would’ve been able to foresee not only how important this one would become, but how close it would be. We Thank You for your sincere friendship which we will never forget.
Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri.