The bilateral relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia have a long history of successful and efficient cooperation. Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East; hence, the partnership between these two super countries is crucial for both. For more than 80 years already, the USA and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have shared mutual interests and respect to each other.
The partnership started with the signing of the oil agreement and resulted in the development of the biggest oil companies in the world. Therefore, it is sometimes considered that the USA is interested only in oil, and the strength of the countries’ bilateral relations depends totally on it. Nevertheless, this idea is pointless as the USA has developed close partnership with Saudi Arabia in the commerce and economic sectors. Apart from that, the countries work together in the tourism and education fields. Moreover, they share a charitable impulse to help the countries in need by means of public and private foreign assistance policy. Although, the USA is highly interested in the KSA’s oil production and exports, the bilateral relations also cover the defense and counterterrorism programs, trade, investments, and travel as both countries need each other’s support for the better development.
Defense and counterterrorism relations
The bilateral relations between the USA and KSA include the defense and counterterrorism programs, as well as trade and investment strategies, traveling, and exchange goals. In terms of the security assistance programs, the USA provides training, supports the weapon use, and assists in the modernization and equipment of the national security forces. The USA and KSA build a strong partnership in order to solve the number of critical issues affecting both countries and the Middle East region in general. In addition to the regional security, the countries have a common concern of managing the global counterterrorism strategy. The defense forces of the USA and Saudi Arabia promote regular participation and cooperation in the joint exercises (“Fact sheet,” 2014). It allows sharing and advancing the countries’ interests in the security of the Middle East region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia possesses a full spectrum of the military capabilities in order to address all regional challenges. Consequently, the USA became the principal supplier of the Foreign Military Sales in the country. According to the Congressional Research Service, since 2010, the approximate value of the “fighter aircraft, helicopters, missile defense systems, missiles, bombs, armored vehicles” and other services and equipment has made more than $86 billion (Blanchard, 2014).
Currently, the bilateral relations between two countries focus on the development of critical infrastructure and improvement of the border security. Moreover, the Ministry initiated the multi-billion dollar program of enhancement the land and coastal borders defense. In addition, the KSA became a significant partner of the USA in managing with numerous counterterrorism issues. Besides, the problems to be mutually addressed include finding ways of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and struggle with extremism. In addition, different counterterrorism operations and “supporting negotiations to achieve Middle East peace” (“Fact sheet,” 2014) are of primary importance.
One can hardly underestimate the significance of these bilateral relations as “America retains strong military presence in the Gulf” (“Awkward relations,” 2014). Therefore, it makes the USA a guarantor of the current and future security in Saudi Arabia. Respectively, the KSA remains the leading local force against the threat of jihadist terrorism threatening the world. Moreover, the countries work together on disrupting the terrorist elements, terrorist financing, and help other countries in countering the terrorist threats. The KSA considers Al Qaeda and its affiliates the major threat to national security, as well as peace and safety in the entire world. In these conditions, the expansion of bilateral security cooperation between the USA and KSA has undeniably essential importance (Gause, 2010).
Bilateral trade and investments
The United States and Saudi Arabia experience close economic cooperation. The USA is the biggest trade partner of the KSA, which, in its turn, is the largest export market for America in the Middle East. The milestone of the USA and KSA trade relations was the ratification of various agreements aimed at improving the economic environment in both countries. Consequently, the United States and Saudi Arabia have signed a Trade Investment Framework Agreement, which enhanced the development of their bilateral partnership (“U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia,” 2013). Moreover, this agreement provides the forum exploring the opportunities for the economic relations improvement. These measures enable further development of trade and investments between the two countries. Moreover, it allows controlling the economic cooperation in this sector and finding new opportunities for expanding the trade links.
According to the US Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, the bilateral trade in 2013 reached $71 billion dollars (“Trade mission highlights,” 2014). This fact reflects the vibrancy of the bilateral commerce and shows the immense potential of the relations between the two countries. The direct and indirect exports of the USA to Saudi Arabia include engineering, construction, procurement, design, financial, and legal services and goods (“Fact sheet,” 2014). In addition, with the help of the USA, Saudi Arabia managed to improve its intellectual property rights and develop a healthy investment climate in the country. Therefore, American companies remain the largest foreign investors in the KSA. In response, the USA supports and enhances the connections between Saudi Arabian investments and their resources and assets. In the nearest future, the KSA can finally enjoy the opening of the national stock market to the foreign investors. The positive economic and investment climate opens immense opportunities for the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.
The business opportunities for the American enterprises are favorable in the KSA since the economy of the country is based on the free enterprise principles. The USA and Saudi Arabia strive towards the elimination of the non-tariff barriers, facilitation of the market access, and protection of the intellectual property rights. Nevertheless, the USA remains the biggest trading partner of the KSA, and this bilateral trade boosts annually. Moreover, America has a lead among the other foreign participants in the joint ventures investments. Consequently, the relations between the two countries mean more than just a trade. They lie in a close partnership as both America and Saudi Arabia are the anchor investors themselves.
Travelling and exchanges
In order to advance the bilateral relations and reaffirm the bonds between their countries, the USA and KSA implement various national trusted traveler programs. Their aim is to facilitate the trade and travels between the countries and improve the international links.
This emerging cooperation opens cyber security opportunities for a vital binational importance. In such a manner, according to the Embassy of the United States in the UK, the cyberspace in both countries will become more secure making the significant impact to the global security (“Joint statement by U.S.,” 2013).
There exists an increased travel from one country to another due to the healthy relations and positive attitude between these countries. In particular, it relates to tourism, education, business, and healthcare. The United States welcome Saudis students, increasing the proficiency level of Saudi Arabia’s citizens and enhancing the development of a knowledge economy. Consequently, by means of these visits, people learn more about the other country and share knowledge of their own.
The Saudi students that study in America represent the future business, political, and social leadership of their country. The high level of education in the USA and the significant knowledge in different sectors can help Saudi Arabia to shape the national outlook and open new perspectives. Moreover, the countries have the experience of the citizen exchanges aimed at the intercultural dialog, entrepreneurship, and volunteerism. Apart from that, a lot of American scholars work at the Saudi Arabian educational institutions in order to strengthen the academic background of the country. The future improvement of the bilateral relations will advance the economic growth, employment level, and diversification of both countries.
In addition, the USA and Saudi Arabia promote various scientific researches and technological innovations. It allows them to develop collaborative programs important to both countries. Moreover, these bilateral relations enhance launching effective environmental programs bringing numerous benefits to the entire world. These relationships considerably deepen the partnership as it engages not only the governments but also people (Smith, 2013).
The unique role of the Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, as well as its strategic location, makes the country a principally important partner of the United States. Both countries have common concerns for a huge amount of regional and global issues. Moreover, America supports the KSA in the advancement of defense forces and counterterrorist programs with the aim of achieving peace and future prosper in the region. The countries work closely in order to promote military, economic, and binational exchange cooperation and safeguard the interests of the two states. It is necessary for both countries as the KSA represents the safety programs in the Middle East and promotes the development of the counterterrorism. The bilateral cooperation between the USA and KSA remains strong as these close ties help in developing their economies. Although, there are some incompatibilities between the two countries, which frequently raise the opinions that these relations will stop their existence in the nearest future, the partnership continues to develop and remains stable. The links between the USA and KSA are too strong to collapse because of minor misunderstandings or any human factor reasons. Both countries need each other, and it is the closest tie that keeps the bilateral relations alive and effective.