In Context: U.S.-Saudi Ties Under Strain

In Context: U.S.-Saudi Ties Under Strain

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Europe Monday and Tuesday in an effort to soothe mounting tensions in the relationship that have recently spilled into public view.

Signs of strain in a pivotal U.S. partnership in the Middle East were evident last week when Saudi Arabia, in a surprise move, declined to assume a United Nations Security Council seat it had previously sought and won, citing the body’s failures in Syria. That was followed this weekend by the disclosure of the Saudi intelligence chief’s comments to European diplomats that Saudi Arabia was scaling back its cooperation with the U.S. on Syria.

As Brian Katulis explained last month in WPR, the rift in the U.S.-Saudi relationship has been growing for months over a variety of policy differences.

First is a dispute over the July ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia backed Morsi’s removal and is supporting the current efforts to isolate the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement Saudi Arabia views as a threat to its interests. The United States has argued for a more inclusive and pluralistic way forward and tried to stop the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Second, the two countries have major tactical disagreements on the way forward in Syria. Both want to see President Bashar al-Assad leave the scene, but Saudi Arabia has been disillusioned by the Obama administration’s reticence to become deeply engaged militarily in Syria. The U.S.-Russia deal on securing chemical weapons still under discussion put the brakes on possible U.S. military strikes, disappointing the Saudis.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review