Sand in Our Eyes: U.S.-Saudi Relations After Iraq

Relations with the Desert Kingdom suffered before 9/11. Now they're on the ropes. But Washington can ill afford the loss of this critical ally, even when it's not on its best behavior.

Issue: Summer 2004

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.

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