America’s strong relationship with Saudi Arabia stands out as somewhat of an oddity in international affairs. The secretive Islamist kingdom, which didn’t ban slavery until 1962, and the United States, which sees itself as a force for democracy and human rights, do not seem like natural allies. Yet the relationship has endured for three quarters of a century due to shared economic and security interests. Steven Simon and Daniel Benjamin take an in-depth look at how the relationship has evolved, noting that the ascent of the new Saudi crown prince may significantly reshape the de facto alliance.
About the Authors
Steven Simon was National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa from 2011 to 2013. Daniel Benjamin is Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth.