Saudi Arabia shares cordial relationships with USA since her independence, in Sep 23 1932. Their friendship dates back to 1933 when both countries made an effort for joint oil exploration in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and USA has a mutual relationship of oil and security exchange. Saudi has the world’s richest reserve of oil and USA is the world’s top exporter of arms. Globally, Saudi Arabia is also heavy importer of arms and ammunition after India. While USA needs heavy imports in oil and gas for its industries and technology sector. Therefore, together they have established a tit for tat relationship.
Apart from oil-for-arms deal of Saudi and USA, they have mutual interest in the Middle-East region. They both want to contain Iran from making progressive moves and dominating. Saudi wants Sunni version of Islam, while Iran wants Shia one. The USA on the other hand, don’t want Iran to become Nuclear Power as this could hurt USA global agenda of Nuclear Non-Proliferation. Further, Iran is in open hostility to USA and do not have diplomatic ties with her. This leaves USA to join hands with Saudi Arabia. As the old saying goes, “Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”.
Unfortunately, last night, Saudi Arabia and USA hit a dent in their relationship when President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as a capital of Israel. The decision has been pending from seven decades from USA side. President Trump boosted that he is the only one in the history of USA who took a bold step that could not be taken by previous presidents. Saudi, however, differs in opinion and terms Trump’s move as ‘irrational’ and ‘irresponsible’. Saudi points out that the decision could result in upsetting the already deterioted dynamics of Middle-East.
Saudi Royal Court issued a statement, condemning President Trump move, as it would destroy the peace in the region. However, President Trump defends himself by saying that previous strategy of two state solution was an impediment to the peace process and that the Middle-East needs new solution.
It should be noted, nevertheless, that Trump was quick to point out that even though he recognizes Jerusalem as Capital of Israel, the demarcation of actual boundaries are left for Palestinians and Israelis to jointly decide.
Trump not only decided to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel, but decided to move USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There has been popular unrest in both Muslim and Non-Muslim World. There are protest happening all around the world, including Muslim Countries like Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine. The polls in USA showed that 70% people don’t want Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel while 30% were in agreement.
The western allies of USA are also are not in support of this move. The countries include UK, France and Germany. UK’ s Prime Minister Theresa May, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel—were in not in support of the Trump’s Decision.
This move of USA has put strain on other aspects of Saudi-US alliance. US wanted Saudi to remove blockade from Yemen’s border for humanitarian reliefs. However, Saudi Arabia does not want to do this because of security reasons; as it has been involved militarily with Shia Houthi Rebels of Yemen since 2015.
Thousands of people, including children are suffering from famine and drought, as Saudi blockade of Yemen border continues. Recently, Saudi has been hit by missile strikes by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels near its Capital Riyadh. This makes Saudi to continue putting pressure on rebels by blockade of supplies of food, medicine and other basic necessity. Ironically, Trump’s request to remove Yemeni blockade coincided with Trump’s recognizing of Jerusalem as Israel Capital. This puts both States at an awkward situation before the world; and the future of their friendly relationship seem uncertain.