Osama bin Laden has certainly achieved one of his cherished goals from the appalling mega-terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center and mauled the Pentagon. He has upset U.S.-Saudi relations and effectively wrecked an alliance that had previously endued for six decades to the vast benefit of both parties. Before 9/11, the Saudis had been viewed by U.S. policymakers, especially in the Republican foreign policy establishment, with great favor. Certainly, Democrats tended to be less comfortable with the Saudis--troubled both by the Kingdom's illiberal domestic policies as well as its staunch opposition to the state of Israel. However, all administrations generally found it possible to find a modus vivendi that permitted the smooth functioning of the "special relationship" with the Desert Kingdom.
Within days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, however, the way in which Washington policymakers and pundits viewed Saudi Arabia was transformed. And many of those that for generations had been the most enthusiastic about the "special relationship" with Saudi Arabia became, effectively overnight, its fiercest critics. On the Saudi side, there was no equivalent sudden shift, because Saudi attitudes towards the United States had been inexorably changing over the last several years, and not for the better. The American reaction to 9/11 has accelerated these trends and brought them to a head.
What is at stake is the relationship that was forged, if a single dramatic political event can be said to start it, when President Franklin Roosevelt met the ailing but still potent, powerful and shrewd old King Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud on the cruiser USS Augusta in 1945.
The U.S.-Saudi Compact