May 14, 2015
By Tara Beeny
Ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been staunch partners: not even the 1973 oil embargo or the participation of 15 Saudi hijackers in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks disrupted cooperation between Washington and Riyadh. However, Saudi concern about US outreach to Iran, coupled with growing sectarian tension in the Middle East, has eroded trust and put bilateral relations in crisis. American policymakers can no longer take for granted Saudi support for US policies.
With Saudi leadership soon passing to a new generation, and Saudi distrust of US intentions high, whoever enters the Oval Office in January 2017 will preside over a fundamentally different relationship. To chart future relations, the new president should consider these five questions.
1. What is the future of the US-Saudi energy relationship?
Saudi Arabia has the largest reserve production capacity in the world and the kingdom’s influence over the energy market is unmatched. This influence often becomes a tool of foreign policy. Saudi Arabia increased oil production to keep prices stable following both Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 2011 NATO action against Muammar Qadhafi’s Libya. More recently Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the market decreased oil prices, hurting Russia and Iran’s oil-dependent economies while undercutting the burgeoning shale industry in North America and perhaps China.
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Saudi Arabia edition