In general, there is a meeting of minds between Saudi Arabia and the US on the need to combat Iranian expansionism. To this end, the White House has just announced the formation of a new US-Saudi-UAE security coordination committee that will meet every month. Domestically, MBS is the first Saudi leader in fifty years willing to confront the religious establishment. This step has huge implications for the Kingdom as well as the Islamic World. The crown prince’s empowering women and integrating them into the labor market is one such implication. To successfully implement the type of rapid and total change Saudi Arabia, a country with an unbridgeable gap between religious right and liberal left, needs, requires a benign autocracy. Watch the full video here.
Despite an alliance spanning seventy-five years, most Americans have an unfavorable view of Saudi Arabia. The low points include the 1970s oil embargo and the September 11th attacks. Conversely, the White House has always had a good relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Cold War deepened an alliance built on oil into a political relationship whereby Saudi Arabia became the key player in the Muslim World fighting the spread of communism. More recently, Washington and Riyadh have jointly opposed Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Iran. Saudi’s regional role, oil production, and the long-standing political alliance are all reasons why the US should hope the Saudi crown prince succeeds in his push for sweeping reform.