US-Saudi Relations: Money for Survival as an Alternative to Oil for Protection

Translated by Captain Ahab


Comrade Ahmad Dahshan

72 years ago, on 14th February, 1945, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia met for the first time with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the USS Quincy (CA-71) at the Grand Lake of the Suez Canal in Egypt, after his return from the Yalta conference coinciding with the start of the British withdrawal as a great power allied to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since the emergence of its first state, and the emergence of America as a new superpower.

The founder of the third Saudi State held this meeting, under which an agreement was reached between the two parties containing several understandings and principles, the most important of these are:

Oil for military protection and absolute support (politically) for the rule of the family of Saud to the lands they acquired, which were united through wars, invasions, agreements, and understandings with Arab tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, which by the way accounts for 80% of its area of the peninsula.

This agreement has governed the relationship between the two parties and has increased the value and importance of Saudi Arabia, making it the main pillar and channel through which the US dominates the region, especially in the light of the emergence of several challenges that threatened this influence, most prominent of these threats to US interests in the region (both now and back in 1945) are as follows:

• The large role that Saudi played in facing the Pan-Arab nationalist project under the leadership of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This project represented the gravest challenge to Western powers and America in particular, as it is a purely Arab project and the only Arab project up until now that intended for the first time since the fall of the Mamluk state and the Arab caliphate (Abbasids) in 1517 to fight for the independence of the Arabs, and for their self-determination. The extent of panic and fear expressed towards this idea can be seen through the attack either consciously or unconsciously by many, even though no significant political force carries its flag today, and none of the Arab regimes either. Saudi Arabia was the greatest contributor and force behind the elimination of this project, militarily Israel struck a hard blow on it, backed of course by US-Western support, on June 5th, 1967, was dead by January 18th, 1974, and was finally buried on 26th March 1979, without exempting those who led it to its demise.

• Facing communism and its spread in the Arab region and fighting the Soviet influence by planting the seed “Jihad” in the modern era, which grew to reach the current form of Daesh (ISIS). Through financial support, intellectually and morally encouraging Arab youth to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and hit the economy of Russia from within to thwart the project (Perestroika) by flooding the world oil markets, which contributed to the decline of Soviet financial revenue.

• Facing the Iranian revolution in its infancy and striking all the capabilities of the Iranian state and destroying its infrastructure and the military by igniting a fierce war between it and Iraq and financing Saddam with tens of billions of dollars to further this end.

• Facing all the “trouble makers” or “rebellious” Arab regimes in the region, whether in Iraq, Syria or Libya.

• Support foreign wars aimed to further US interests by recruiting so-called “Mujahideen” to divide Yugoslavia and strike the Russian Federation from within , through the Caucasus republics and other hotbeds of conflict in areas of the former Soviet Union.

• Striking and confronting all progressive or modernist ideas whether liberal, leftist or even enlightened Islam, in order to ensure that no political force integrates Arabs in modern times and enable Arab peoples from determining their own fate.

Saudi Arabia has provided so much to America. America did not have in the whole world a more loyal ally who is expending so much money, effort, propaganda and adapting religious ideology in accordance with the interests of America. Without exaggeration, 99.99% of Saudi foreign policy struggles were motivated by American interests – they were neither a real threat nor a serious challenge to Saudi Arabia’s existence or its national security.

The situation however has changed, oil is no longer a strategic commodity of great value for the US, and not one single enemy or challenger to US hegemony remains in the region that requires the need to have a special relationship with Saudi Arabia. Gone are the days of Arab nationalism, charismatic figures such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, and stubborn leaders like Gaddafi, Saddam, and Assad. Even revolutionary Iran does not pose a threat, neither does its nuclear program. Communism and the Soviet Union are long gone, hence there is no need for the US to fear all of the above.The US is not even worried about the future of Israel after Egypt broke the door and opened it wide open for the Arabs to break the psychological barrier between them. Israel has become a destination today for all Arab leaders since Israel has a superior military, intelligentsia, economy, and has even taken great strides in technological development. And so it was natural that Saudi Arabia turned into a burden rather than a partner, hence the new social contract of the relationship between the two parties.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia does not have inherent defensive capabilities (qualified military personnel), nor a manufacturing base or a real economy that is not wholly based on non-renewable natural resources. Saudi Arabia did not even keep alive some of the hotbeds and conflicts that could plague the US, so that these conflict zones could be used in negotiations. It was more American than America itself in its dedication to get rid of all of its enemies. As a result of these conflicts they are surrounded by enemies from each side and “allies” who hope to grab the last piece of the pie, and are not real partners, and so Trump’s slogan was “If you want protection, pay-up” or “Without us Saudi Arabia is nothing”.

I am not here to attack or to give excuses, I am trying to understand and analyze the nature of the Saudis panic and fear after seeing America’s major allies fall without any US intervention. At times the US even encouraged and supported the fall of these regimes. We can also understand the Saudi anger that was expressed by its officials towards the Obama administration, having given so much and receiving little in return. This is a language that the US does not understand and does not know, and does not manage its relations with. And so we could find many in Saudi Arabia that are resentful of the size of America’s extortion, but at the same time they do not find in front of them any other solution to the dilemma that they find themselves in, with no friends in the region, only hostile enemies, due to their unrelenting support of US foreign policy for the past 70 years. And so they are obliged to bow down to Trump’s demands in order to obtain the required and much-needed political and military protection.

Saudi Arabia is now seeking through the deals it just concluded to renew the agreement (social contract), developed by the founder. The new social contract requires “cash-for-protection” and not “oil-for-protection”, so the current scene does not seem strange or surprising at all. May God protect our brothers, sisters and loved ones in the Arabian Peninsula, in Aden, and from Sanaa to Manama through the Hijaz and Najd and Kuwait and Abu Dhabi down to Muscat and Doha. We are and will remain, despite the cynicism of cynics, one people bound by a single fate.

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