Saudi defense minister meets Obama, stresses strategic ties

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In the midst of security concerns preoccupying the Gulf region and several upheavals throughout the Arab world, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz visited Washington to discuss key issues and stress strategic cooperation.

Both Abdul Aziz and U.S. president Barrack Obama stressed in their meeting the strong and strategic partnership that ties the two countries, according to a White House statement.

The Saudi embassy in the United States said bin Abdul Aziz discussed several bilateral and regional issues and held a “fruitful dialogue.”

The United States and Saudi Arabia cooperate on several levels, on top of which are regional security, the war on terror, and energy. The two countries have maintained this strong relationship throughout different American administration and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz visited the White House in 2010.

The U.S. signed last year a deal to provide Saudi with 80 F-15 warplanes. Saudi also takes part in annual military exercises with the U.S. in the states of Nevada and California.

Prince bin Abdul Aziz’s visit comes at a time when concerns over Iran’s nuclear program are remarkably increasing and also at a time when more cooperation between U.S. and Saudi is required to face that danger.

Military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States is made easier because both countries follow a similar military structure, said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
According to Cordesman, both the United States and Saudi Arabia follow the same military structure that constitutes a forceful deterrent to any threat.

However, Cordesman added, the Saudi Arabian army is not yet ready to face missile threats and that is why it needs to buy new anti-missile technologies and the same applies to other Gulf countries.

For Cordesman, Saudi Arabia has been forming a strong security force that contributed to maintaining stability in the region. This stability, he argued, is also linked to the abundance of energy sources.

U.S.-Saudi cooperation is not confined to political and security issues, but also extends to energy. The flow of Saudi oil contributes to the security of the United States and this is expected to last till 2035 at least.

The United States and Saudi Arabia need each other and this becomes clear in the way each of them stresses the significance of its strong ties with the other and the parity between both. It is against this backdrop that Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz paid Obama a visit in Washington.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)