|Almanac of Policy
Home : Policy Archive : Search
Questia: Search over 400,000 books and journals at Questia online.
FastWeb Free Scholarship Search: Find free money for college or an advanced degree.
B. Prados, Congressional Research Service
Saudi Arabia, a monarchy ruled
by the Saudi dynasty, enjoys special importance in the international community
because of its unique association with the Islamic religion and its oil wealth.
Since the establishment of the modern Saudi kingdom in 1932, it has benefited
from a stable political system based on a smooth process of succession to the
throne and an increasingly prosperous economy dominated by the oil sector.
Decrees by King Fahd in March 1992 establishing an appointive consultative
council and provincial councils and promulgating a basic law providing for
certain citizensí rights could signal a gradual trend toward a more open
The United States and Saudi
Arabia have long-standing economic and defense ties. A series of informal
agreements, statements by successive U.S. administrations, and military
deployments have demonstrated a strong U.S. security commitment to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia was a key member of the allied coalition that expelled Iraqi forces
from Kuwait in 1991. Saudi Arabia hosted U.S. aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone
over southern Iraq; between the two Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003; however, Saudi
Arabia did not offer the use of its territory for major air strikes against Iraq
in response to Iraqi obstruction of U.N. weapons inspections. Moreover, Saudi
officials ex-pressed opposition to the U.S.-led military campaign launched
against Iraq in March-April 2003, although theyreportedly permitted certain
support operations by U.S. and British military forces, as well in addition to
making some facilities available to them.
Bombing attacks against several
U.S. operated installations in Saudi Arabia have raised some concerns about
security of U.S. personnel and further security measures have been implemented.
Saudi Arabia convicted and executed four Saudi nationals for carrying out a
bombing in 1995. After extended investigations, on June 21, 2001, a U.S. federal
grand jury indicted 14 members of Middle East terrorist organizations for a
bombing in 1996, but none of them is in U.S. custody. A third bombing occurred
on May 12, 2003, when suicide bombers attacked three housing compounds inhabited
by U.S. and other western personnel, killing an estimated 34 people including as
many as eight U.S. citizens.
U.S. officials have cited Saudi
support in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, including
intelligence sharing, law enforcement activities, and tracking of terror-ist
financing. Some commentators maintain that Saudi domestic and foreign policies
have created a climate that may have contributed to terrorist acts by Islamic
radicals. Saudi officials reject this viewpoint and maintain that they are
working with the United States to combat terrorism.
Other principal issues of bilateral interest include the Saudi position on the Arab-Israeli conflict, security in the post-war Gulf region, arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, Saudi external aid programs, bilateral trade relationships, and Saudi policies involving human rights and democracy. In early 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah proposed a peace initiative based on Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories in return for normal relations between Arab states and Israel.
This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.