A common vision for the US and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been an important economic partner for the US and a balancing power in international politics
Since the historical meeting between King Abdul Aziz and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the Great Bitter Lake in Egypt more than 70 years ago, Saudi Arabia’s relations with the United States have been distinct despite the successive changes in the US administrations and except for rare and temporary occasions.
It is not true that this has been the case only because of the oil wealth of the kingdom. Saudi Arabia has been an important economic partner for the United States as well as an important balancing power in international politics aimed to stabilize the Middle East and replete with conflict and crisis.
This changed during President Barack Obama’s administration, which adopted a soft policy toward the main factor behind the region’s conflicts, namely Iran, at the expenses of America’s historic allies in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia.
It goes without saying that Obama drifted in his policy of appeasement with Iran, in anticipation of the completion of the nuclear deal, because it was his only true achievement which will bring him personal glory with regard to foreign policy. Obama’s policies have caused increased tension in the Middle East, the outbreak of conflicts, the expansion of Iran in every direction, and the emergence and expansion of terrorist organization ISIS.
All of that has now changed. After taking charge, the new US president Donald Trump phoned King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Whatever has been published about the content of communication alludes to the return of age-old Saudi-US relations. The two leaders discussed most of the pressing issues, especially terrorism, which has grown during Obama’s reign.
The bottom line is that the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia share the same vision: Iran’s role in destabilizing the security and stability of the Middle East. This is important for both the countries as they embark on a new phase toward normalization of relationsDr Ahmad al-Farraj
The security establishment
The Trump administration realizes the strength of the kingdom in this regard. American security services have already commended the significant role played by the Kingdom in this context. Most importantly, the two leaders discussed revival of the joint action to counter the Iranian threat, which endangers the entire Middle East.
Members of the administration such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who was the commander of US Central Command responsible for military operations in the Middle East, along with national security adviser Michael Flynn, and chief strategist Steve Bannon, realize the extent of threat posed by Iran. All of them have on earlier occasions talked about the Iranian danger.
James Mattis believes that the nuclear agreement is not aimed at ending the program but to temporarily disable it. He holds the view that Iran will not stop trying to acquire nuclear weapons, which is probably why Obama removed him. President Trump has not chosen Gen. Mattis to take charge of the defense Ministry arbitrarily. Trump echoes Mattis’ fears regarding the nuclear deal, during his election campaign.
The bottom line is that the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia share the same vision: Iran’s role in destabilizing the security and stability of the Middle East. This is important for both the countries as they embark on a new phase toward normalization of relations.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Dr Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council.