The US-Saudi relationship has flourished following the 9/11 attacks. It realized despite Saudi potential role in the attacks.
A series of events have led to attracted the attentions on Washington and Riyadh ties prior to the twentieth anniversary September 11 terrorist attacks. Following a legal case brought by a Saudi holding corporation against a former top Saudi official, US National Intelligence chief invoked the classified information privilege two weeks ago. The move meant to prevent sensitive data to leak in the media.
Following intense demand from relatives of victims, President Biden instructed the US Department of Justice to re-assess records from the FBI Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks in order to declassify and reveal them to the public.
The specter of September 11 keeps throwing a shadow over the ties between Saudi Arabia and US. The US-Saudi relationship has developed significantly since the horrific attacks in certain ways.
15, out of 19, hijackers were nationals of Saudi Arabia. Besides, Osama bin Laden, the architect of the attacks, has family relationship with a Saudi most powerful business lines. These unforgettable facts have always threatened to impact the ties. Curiously enough, they didn’t.
Following the attacks, a large series of American mainstream media and old politicians intervened to contextualize the necessity of US-Saudi relationship. They focused on oil on the east and security on the west structured in a 1945 visit between then President Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul in the Suez Canal.
Nevertheless, an American political expert looked into the matter, he discovering that there was no reference to oil or security at the Suez visit. Instead, Robert Vitalis believes that “oil for security” only appeared in 2002, few months after the attacks. Since then, the phrase has gained widespread acceptance and is usually regarded as genuine.
US-Saudi Relationship in Two Decades
If there is a special US-Saudi relationship today, it evolved after 9/11 attacks. US and Saudi Arabia collaborated closely in the two pervasive wars that followed the 9/11 attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq.
The multiple links between the assailants and US allied governments, such as like United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, were dealt with by diplomatic ways rather than military activism. Consider how the reaction may have been different if 15 of the 19 hijackers were the nationals of Russia or Iran.
After two full decades and the elimination of almost all high-rank officials and princes in Saudi kingdom, 9/11 remains a major issue. the only survivor is King Salman who has in fact passed the power to his son, Mohammad.
The United States remained worried about charities in Saudi Arabia. Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of State, said in 2009 that private Saudi donations were “the most major source of money to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”
In 2016, both US house of congress ratified a bill to address the donations supporting the terrorism across the world. Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act clearly indicated the footstep of 2001 attacks on US politics.
Saudi rulers have expended a major part of second decade of twenty-first century in distress concerning relationship with the United States. From the Saudi perspective, the era following 2011 was more concerning than 2001.
The US alienation from the longtime regional ally Hosni Mubarak, then Egyptian President, during the Arab Spring was the start of a new era for Riyadh. Obama’s tendency to support or cooperate with Jihadist groups was viewed as a threat by Saudi Arabia.
The US-Saudi relationship has gone through various ups and downs in the past decade. Obama, Trump, and Biden had different signatures in bilateral developments.