Saudi Arabia and the United States: Reluctant Bedfellows in a Strategic Embrace
For several years, the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has been especially difficult. During the first Gulf War (1990-1991), relations had reached an all-time high, marked by intensive cooperation to liberate Kuwait and protect the Saudi kingdom from Saddam Husayn. Yet little remains today of those halcyon days of photo-ops with Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Khalid bin Sultan. Seventeen years ago, the countries strode confidently forward to confront a common enemy. Today, they retain common adversaries, but different ones: radical jihadi terrorism and a rival state bidding for regional hegemony – the Shi`ite Islamic Republic of Iran. The geopolitical changes unleashed by America’s overthrow of Saddam Husayn’s regime in Iraq have resulted in a significant measure of mistrust creeping into the Saudi-American relationship. As a result, a mutual lack of confidence intrudes on what should otherwise be an air-tight alliance.