Saudi Arabia, the US, and the Structure of Gulf Alliances
February 25, 1999
The US alliance with Saudi Arabia is an informal alliance based on mutual security interests. It is no less real, however, than alliances based on formal treaties. For the US, close ties to Saudi Arabia are an essential part of its effort to secure a region with two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves and a third of its gas, and which is critical to the US and global economy. For Saudi Arabia, close ties to the US are an essential aspect of its defense. Saudi Arabia has no foreseeable hope of being able to build-up the military forces necessary to secure it against Iran and Iraq, deal with the growing problem of proliferation, or secure the lines of communication necessary for the stable export of its oil.