Saudi National Security and the Saudi-U.S. Strategic Partnership
December 4, 2008
The United States faces major problems in restoring its reputation and strategic partnerships all over the world. Every opinion poll that has addressed the subject has shown that the last eight years have done immense damage to America’s position. There are few areas, however, where U.S. action is more urgent than in the Gulf and in dealing with Saudi Arabia.
Campaign promise and pundits aside, the United States will remain directly dependent on massive energy imports well beyond 2030 and equally dependent on a global economy fueled by Gulf oil. The flow of oil, gas, and petroleum exports not only requires the security of key exporting states; it requires the security of regional pipelines and shipping routes. These not only involve the security of the Persian Gulf, but the Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. Piracy has now joined the risk of conventional and asymmetric warfare in threatening the region.
This makes understanding Saudi national security and its strengths and weaknesses a critical priority for the new administration and the new Congress. The United States has valuable relations with Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman all offer key bases and strategic facilities. Only one state, however, has the geographic position, military forces, strategic depth, and common interests to be a key strategic partner in the Gulf. The United States needs Saudi Arabia as much as Saudi Arabia needs the United States.
The Burke Chair has prepared a draft briefing, entitled Saudi National Security and the Saudi-U.S. Strategic Partnership, drawing on research in Saudi Arabia and consultation with U.S. and Saudi officials. The briefing will be revised over time, and comments and suggested changes would be most helpful. These can be addressed to email@example.com. The briefing will also be followed by a book on Saudi National Security. A review draft will be circulated during the coming month.