The Obama administration’s outreach to Iran over its alleged nuclear program has Washington’s traditional Middle East allies concerned—perhaps the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia above all. An alliance that began in 1944 when President Roosevelt met with the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Saud, the U.S.-Saudi partnership, despite many ups and downs, has remained a cornerstone interest of both countries for nearly 70 years. Now, however, this bilateral relationship appears suddenly troubled—if if not outright endangered. The White House and the Kingdom have diverged on several key Middle East policies—Syria, Egypt, and most importantly Iran—leading Riyadh to consider other strategic options. Will the partnership survive? Or is it merely taking a new shape, long overdue?
On December 20, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith moderated a panel discussion with Elliott Abrams and Brian Katulis about recent upheavals in U.S.-Saudi relations.
Elliott Abrams was Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy during the George W. Bush administration. He is currently a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author, most recently, of Tested By Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. He is co-author of The Prosperity Agenda: What the World Wants from America—and What We Need in Return.
Lee Smith is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and a Senior Editor at the Weekly Standard.