“The long and corrupt history of American-Saudi relations centers around the kingdom’s vast reserves of easily extractable oil, of course. Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt met aboard ship in 1945 with King Ibn Saud, the special relationship with the desert kingdom has only grown stronger. The House of Saud is usually happy to sell us oil at a consistent and reasonable price — and then increase production if unseemly market forces drive the world price of a barrel too high for U.S. consumers. In exchange we arm the Saudis to the teeth and turn a blind eye to their medieval approach to crime and punishment.” (John R. MacArthur “The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby” April 17,2007)
The USS Quincy, a US naval warship, would hardly constitute as a mechanism where moderated peace talks be held. The largest ship usually attracts the most attention but also have their limitations and yet the USS Quincy, which accompanied many of her sister ships across the Pacific in the tail end of World War 2, was also a ship with remarkable accuracy for long range assaults on combat enemy vessels. By 1945, the USS Quincy would now be used as a powerful tool, to make itself accessible to some of the most powerful leaders on the face of the earth, while conducting peace talks that would have beneficial outcomes that would effect the world over. On February 14th 1945, just two days removed from the Malta Conference, where US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with Soviet leader Josef Stalin and England’s Prime Minster Winston Churchill to discuss the future of Europe, Churchill had met with Saudi Arabia’s King, Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman Al Saud while docked at the Great Bitter Lake along the Suez Canal. The ship was beside other war cruisers and destroyers with an air cap overhead of fighter planes to show the well natured leader Ibn Saud the might of the American military. The discussion entailed the King’s un wavering support for Jews into Palestine.
Al Saud would in return be met with the full support of the United States government and it’s full time protection from it’s military and with a permanent military base at Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. The price? The U.S would be the sole primary recipient to the Kingdom’s unlimited supply of it’s oil reserves. The United States would become the prime importers and control the oil regulating market in the Middle East. It was what the Pan Arabs feared, that the Gulf would end up modestly pricing itself out, while the West takes full advantage and also subvert Arab power. The conference ended with a handshake. The partnership would forever change the landscape of the Saudi Kingdom and the United States, in more ways than one.
Meanwhile the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan Islamic organization in Egypt tries to usurp the remaining British crown influence in the country after it won it’s independence in 1922. King Al Saud however wanted to placate the British, for they were the ally they needed when the embolden King Saud took over Najd and Riyadh from the Ottoman empire. The Brotherhood (Ikhwan) were not looking for expansionism into Europa however, but wanted the Islamic caliphate to be represented in government. The Saudi’s were not in conflict with the idea of an Islamic caliphate, but it had to be thru the Saudi Kingdom. Roosevelt saw the massive upside of having the Saud family and their endless oil reserves at their disposal. The Kingdom had to have another benefit at their disposal, and it began funneling tens of millions to American officials in 1947. The Israeli Zionist lobby thru their largest organization at the time, Zionists Organization for American (ZOA), were being financially and politically supported by members of America’s powerful government. King Al Saud knew the upside to having the influence of the world’s most powerful government as your side, thus began to funnel tens of millions, that started with officials in the judicial and legislative branches.
“Palestine is not ready for the Jews. And the Jews are not ready for Palestine. To pour into this impoverished country tens of thousands of Jews would be an unspeakable calamity both for the country and for the Jews themselves. The quickest way to annihilate them would be to place them in Palestine with no restrictions or influences from any civilized government and allow them to govern themselves, they would very soon destroy each other.” (Selah Merrill, US Consul at Jerusalem, 1882)
As America supported Zionism under US President Wilson, William Yale, the state department ambassador to the British Army stated that by doing so, he remarked that a global Muslim backlash would soon follow. As World War 2 arrived on the global stage, the Arabs were sympathetic to the Nazi regime, due to the Saudis being quite the open critic of knowing an Israeli state would be right in the middle of Arab lands. Most of the State Department were opposed to Zionism. The US oil industry would soon join the Arab Lobby headed by the Saudis. Split between the Saudis and Israeli special interest groups. King Saud spoke out against the Jews and the Palestine problem. To which president Wilson was quite understanding of, and sided with Ibn Saud on many issues, including this one. This was rather obvious however considering if Wilson were to side with the Israeli issue, they would prospectively lose the lucrative oil fields to Great Britain, to which the Saudis threatened to side with reluctantly if the Saudis demands were not met.
King Ibn Saud was adamant about Jews having to live in Palestine, and he often became quite demanding about this not being given the attention it deserves. Ibn Saud even remarked once to a state staffer that the Jews should be given the homes in Germany, since that is where the holocaust took place, not in Palestine. By the time the US elections ended in 1933, Wilson would end up being replaced by Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Roosevelt was made aware of the Saudi-Israeli problem, and promised Ibn Saud that no move would be made without confronting him first. However, Roosevelt supported an unrestricted immigration to Palestine and a future Jewish state. Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius Jr., warned Truman that likely pressure from Zionists in the united States would make trouble for the Saudi interests under Roosevelt. Truman became an adviser of sorts in American politics after, and knew of the incoming problems Roosevelt would come under if he didn't satisfy both sides. In 1945, the United Nations was just ratified, in the same year, the Arab Lobby became official. But it wasn’t easy since the Arab Lobby happened to run into problems due to it’s inherent extremism. The United States knew of the rampant human rights abuses the Saudis posed, slavery, women not having many freedoms, beheadings etc. Truman however believed that a viable Jewish state should be created to fulfill the promise of Lord Balfour.
Truman would pen a letter to Ibn Saud on October 13th 1946, which stated:
“I do not consider that my urging of the admittance of a considerable number of displaced Jews into Palestine or my statements with regarding to the solution to the problem of Palestine in any sense represent an action hostile to the Arab people.”
But Roosevelt would not allow the Arab-Israeli issue get in the way of the enriched, untapped oil fields that the Saudi Kingdom provided. By 1947, US companies were just finishing the construction of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline which would carry Saudi oil to the Mediterranean for transshipment to Europe. Even with Ibn Saud’s adamant position toward the partition of Palestine, the Saudis knew that by placating to the United States, they would have the world’s super-power at their disposal.
As the Zionist backed, Stern and Irgun gangs began their own “genocide” leaving many thousands of Palestinians displaced and heading to Syria and Jordan, the Saudis in turn threatened to deny pipeline rights to American companies if the government didn’t change it’s policies towards Israel. It was the first time the Saudis actually used their bargaining skills against the country it solely catered to for help and support. However, Ibn Saud would not threatened the US-Saudi interests further, even with its adamant disapproval for an Israeli state. There was literally too much at stake for the Saudis, who didn’t want to deal with the British, for they were the ones responsible for the partition of Palestine, or the Soviets because communism would become the direct threat in the region. Ultimately the sole primary reason for the Saudis dependent on the US was basically to keep the Saudi royal family solvent and having their continued support by its military to safeguard the Kingdom from its enemies. The Palestinians would ultimately not have the support of the Saudis in mind.
“The fact of the matter is that the Arab states must have oil royalties or go broke” (Clark Gifford memo to Truman, March 3rd 1948)
On May 14th 1948, Israel would declare it’s independence. The response of the Arabs worldwide was highly critical, the Gulf Arabs were demurred however, for they did not wish to lose the superpower of the United States. Instead they spoke about the themes of the future. The United States knew this would upset many in the Kingdom. Thus they began noting the themes of the future regarding the Arab-Israeli problem.
*Support for Israel weakened US ties with Arab world.
*The Arab-Israel conflict is the root of all problems.
*US pressure can change Israel polices and each leverage should be sued to fence Israel to capitulate to Arab demands.
*The most important US policy objective is to secure the supply of oil, and to do so, the Arabs must be placated.
By 1950, Israel names Jerusalem as it’s capitol. the United States however refuses to recognize the move, and establishes its embassy instead in Tel Aviv. the US pressures visiting countries not to commit to Jerusalem as well. Almost immediately, Israel beings to commit to certain advocates inside the US government to counter the Arab’s influence. They solidly strong ties while forcing the Soviets to support socialist revolutionary regimes in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq. The Soviets secret war against the United States would be for regional predominance in the Middle East. With the threat of a cold war, the Saudis took full advantage of the US to forcibly support it or fear them being lost to the Soviets. By 1953, Dwight Eisenhower became the 34th president of the United States, and immediately upon taking office, supported the Israeli states priorities. Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, brother to Allen Dulles (Director CIA), reinforced his views of Arabs in the state department, which were quite favorable. Causing a visible split within the White House. Eisenhower wanted to bolster conservative Arab regimes to prevent Soviet influence however, and in order to do so, he needed to support the Israelis for they would the extension of the United States military.
Arab socialism was becoming a direct threat to the influence of the united States, led by Egyptian President, Gamel Abdel Nasser, who saw fit to nationalize the oil and away from becoming regulated by Western interests. The Soviets wanted to have an optimistic future with the Arabs, especially Shia led minority, not the Gulf Sunnis who ere considered, “too primitive”. the United States had another problem however, Saudi deference to waste spending and borrowing money from US coffers and lobbyist's. The Kingdom under Ibn Saud wasted hundreds of millions, leading many in the kingdom to become too critical of its own government. Eisenhower was not deterred by this fact and instead knew the importance of having the Saudis as a primary player against the soviets since the Saudis had the most important commodity the Soviets were ultimately after themselves. In 1957 Eisenhower provides a grant to help develop a Saudi air force base located in Dhahran, in the Eastern Province, and also promised to provide training to the Saudi Royal Guard to the cost of 50 million US dollars. But Ibn Saud was disposed by his deteriorating health due to heart disease and arthritis. He would father 45 sons, for which he tapped his most prized son, Faisal as to become future King. However in 1953, Ibn Saud had passed away due to his ailing conditions, and Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (who was the prime minister of the Saudi Kingdom) took the throne.
King Saud wanted to change his fathers mentality that the Kingdom focused on its military and ignored internal problems. Saud’s war was focused on “poverty, ignorance, and disease with the equitable application of the dictates of the holy Shariah laws to all without exception, and the creation of a strong army”. Saud also wanted to solidify relationships with other Arab countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan. Eisenhower invited King Saud to undertake an official visit to the U.S. in 1957 since he believed that King Saud played a crucial role in implementing his doctrine of deterring and fighting communism in the Middle East and the Islamic countries. He also discussed with the American President his dispute with Britain over the Al Burayami Oasis, an oil zone between the frontiers of Saudi Arabia. With the countries increasing oil production, things started to change from within. But Faisal clashed often with Saud about the rightful heir successor to the throne. Faisal didn’t forget about what his father had promised him as a youth. The ruling power of the kingdom however belonged to the ‘ulema” the religious authority of the Wahhabi doctrine. Without this Saud had no power to deter Faisal. In March 1964 Saud finally relented and named Faisal regent with full executive powers, effectively reducing himself to a figurehead.
Eisenhower’s presidency was led by its staunch support for Saudi Arabia in his later years, and he suddenly became the least vocal supporter of Israel in American history. This was led by Dulles influence of Arabs in the region and how by supporting fully the Saudis, this would deter the Soviets from becoming a truer superpower. Something Allen Dulles, Director CIA, warned the government about as the Arab socialist movement became a focal point and direct threat to the West in the future. Eisenhower did not share Truman’s position regarding support for Israel. John Dulles reinforced his views of the Arabs in the State department which saw the Israelis as also unfavorable for the time being due to the Soviet threat to the Middle East. The Soviets in the conquest to beat the United States for regional dominance tried to buy friends in the Arab world, by supplying them with weapons, namely Syria, Jordan and Egypt. At the end of Eisenhower's administration, and with the start of the John F. Kennedy administration, the United States would not back a sale of arms to Israel which was once on the table 6 months prior. This was due in part to the current line of thinking that by approving the sale of arms, it would hurt Arab relations for the future.
The organization of the petroleum companies (OPEC) is created in 1960, located in Baghdad, Iraq. This was to help nationalize the oil from the West. In just a few short years Aramco, Gulf, Mobil, SoCal and Standard Oil would meet with State Department officials to voice concern about Nasser and the spread of communism in the Arab region. Nasser had declared that “oil was a source of strength” for Arabs support against Western imperialism.
As Kennedy took office in 1961, the United States tried to repair relations with Nasser’s Egypt. The Saudis warned however that Egypt was a dangerous socialist regime, and that by supporting them, they would be supporting the direct threat to the Saudi Kingdom. Faisal had no hesitation to forward his concerns with Kennedy against Nasser and the communists. On November 3rd 1962, the Saudi Kingdom asks the United States to intervene militarily against Egypt. The war began with a coup d’état carried out in 1962 by revolutionary republicans led by the army under the command of Abdullah as-Sallal, who dethroned the newly crowned Imam Muhammad al-Badr and declared Yemen a republic under his presidency. The Imam escaped to the Saudi Arabian border where he rallied popular support from northern Shia tribes to retake power, escalating rapidly to a full-scale civil war. as-Sallal was supported by the Soviets, and wished to take control of the gulf. Operation Hard Surface began and the United States air force, using the base they built in Dhahran, deterred the Egyptians from coming any further towards the Saudi Kingdom.
Kennedy was met with an untimely end on November 23rd 1963, with his assassination by unknown gunmen in Dallas, Texas. With Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson becoming the nation’s 36th president, he reversed course regarding past presidents position toward Israel. Johnson would become it’s primary focus. In just two months into his presidency, Johnson signs an executive order and sells weapons to Israel, and once again in 1965, and becomes Israel’s main supplier for weapons. He also sends to the Saudis, half a billion dollars in arms, and installed missile defense systems. Johnson saw the importance of continuing relations with the Arabs, especially the Saudis, as they were becoming a burgeoning influence in American politics, spending tens of millions on buying friends. The Arab communists however tried to force things their way, and on June 5th 1967, Egypt, and Syria launch a preemptive strike against Israel. Commonly known as the “Six day war”, it witnessed the quick defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The defeat of the Arabs morally depleted them in return. This led to the quick denouncement of Arab led nationalism supported by Nasser.
On January 20th 1969, Richard Nixon becomes the 37th president of the United States. Nixon was much more “experienced’ in regards to the geopolitical details involving American interests in the Middle East, Henry Kissinger became his United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Kissinger was shrewd and known for his slight acumen toward the Arab-Israeli position.
With the death of Nasser in 1970, Anwar Sadat would become his successor and third president of Egypt. His presidency would turn the country around at a complete 180 degree angle, starting with improving relations with not just the United States and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, but also Israel. Sadat also wanted to repair the relations of the subjugated religious minority in the country and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Saudis however were vying for more American influence in its political spectrum, knowing full well the Israelis were also vying for the same, as they created the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1963. The bipartisan committee was slow to gain influence however, and under King Faisal, the Saudis wanted more political backing to try and supplant the Israeli Lobby in general. The Saudis had no domestic lobby to speak of, but by 1973, Faisal told US oil company executives that Zionists and communists were on the verge of having Americans interests thrown out of the area. This was the first assertive toward changing US policy in the region by the Saudis. Oil executives from SoCal, and Mobil then flew immediately to Washington DC and met with lobbyists about US policy change toward Israel or else lose the Saudis altogether. Almost immediately Mobil published a full page ad in the New York Times about the “US stance in Middle East peace”. Mobil explained how the American way of living would depend on how the US viewed their interests in the region, especially Saudi Arabia and Iran. The two largest oil exporters in the region. At about the same time, SoCal sends a letter t0 200,000 of its employees and 262,000 share holders asking them to pressure Washington Dc to support the aspirations of the Arab people. The Saudi lobbyists were beginning to notice the value of their worth regarding American interests.
Nixon valued the Saudis, but also knew he had a main ally with Israel. Both were trying to gain more influence in the US government, while the lobbyists went to a full scale war for power in the White House. In the summer months of 1973, a group of ten oil executives held a meeting with John. J. McCloy, a renown lobbyist himself. Undersecretary of state, William Casey, who would later become director of the CIA, was also present. The main premise of the talk was the US position in the Middle east which was weakening. The fear of losing Saudi support to the Soviets was the real fear here. The Saudis wanted to pressure the United States position regarding the Israelis. on October 6th 1973, Egypt led by Sadat’s wish to regain honor amongst the Arabs from their previous failure ten years ago along with Syria attacks Israel. Five days later, King Faisal, who met with Sadat one month prior and whom was told by Sadat that they would be attacking Israel with Faisal’s blessings, asks Nixon to stop supporting Israel. Nixon however sent a re-supply of military weapons, after being asked to help support them against their fight with the attacking Arab countries. On October 17th OPEC declared an oil embargo on the “non-friendly” states, this included the United States.
Kissinger brokers a meeting with King Faisal and travels to Riyadh, the countries main capitol and financial hub. Kissinger tells Faisal to lift the embargo, Faisal ignores the plea and tells Kissinger that Israel is supporting the communists advance in the Middle East. Within the new few months however, on March 18th 1974, the embargo is lifted. However, American sympathy for Israel after the war grew. The Saudis however continued to waste spend. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud, the US-Saudi ambassador, once remarked in an interview, that as much as “50 percent of the 400 billion spent in 30 years of nation building was lost to corruption and mismanagement”. Leading many in the United States to witness the problem of the Saudi Royal Family who had internal problems that would later become a problem for not just itself but for the US. Adnan Khashoggi, was the Saudi middleman in about 80 percent of US arms deals thru-ought the latter half on the 1970’s to early 1980’s period. The United States however went thru their own “personal” scandal, with Nixon becoming the first president to resign from office amidst the Watergate scandal. Gerald Ford would become the first official without having been previously voted into either the presidential or vice presidential office by the Electoral College. On August 9th 1974 he was sworn in.
Meanwhile the Saudis continued to force the issue regarding their expanding political influence in the united States and abroad. The Saudi Kingdom had warned other countries not to move their embassies to Jerusalem, just as the US did 20 years prior. However, Canada announced it would move their embassy there and almost immediately Saudi Arabia and Kuwait cancelled more than 400 million dollars in contracts with Canadian firms. the Canadian dollar sank in total value and Canada postponed the move entirely.
Ford’s presidency concentrated on repairing relations with the Soviets, after visiting Israel in 1975, Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, remarked to Ford about the Israel-Egyptian meeting:
“I wish to express my profound disappointment over Israel’s attitude in the course of the negotiations … Failure of the negotiation will have a far reaching impact on the region and on our relations. I have given instructions for a reassessment of United States policy in the region, including our relations with Israel, with the aim of ensuring that overall American interests … are protected. You will be notified of our decision.”
For six months between March and September 1975, the United States refused to conclude any new arms agreements with Israel. Rabin notes it was “an innocent-sounding term that heralded one of the worst periods in American-Israeli relations”. Ford’s presidency was met with relative. redundancy” overall regarding the futures of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States. On January 20th 1977, Jimmy Carter would be sworn in after a narrow defeat over Ford. Carter won the popular vote by 50.1 percent to 48.0 percent for Ford, and received 297 electoral votes to Ford’s 240. Carter however reneged on almost all of his campaign promises to Israel. In his reelection on 1980, Carter suffered this, and saw the lowest Jewish turnout rates not seen since 1924.
Saudi Arabia also witnessed a transfer if power. King Khalid had died on June 13th 1982, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became the Kingdoms new leader. Fahd was viewed as the de facto prime minister during King Khalid’s reign in part due to the latter’s ill health. Fahd had once led the Saudi delegation to the League of Arab States in 1959, signifying his increasing prominence in the House of Saud and his being groomed for a more significant role. Even thou Carter was a humanitarian he fully supported Fahd and Saudi Arabia. Carter wanted to reverse the sales of arms to Israel and stop using weapons transfers as a foreign policy instrument. He was also against the building of Israeli settler homes which he saw as an obstacle for peace in the region. Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, believed that it was important to solve the Palestinian problem to protect American interests in the Persian Gulf. By 1977, Carter became the first president to declare open support for Palestine.
Carter’s next plan was to have Israel and Egypt come together to a pace agreement. The Saudis disapproved of the plan however and in return for this disapproval, carter sold 1.5 billion worth of arms to the Kingdom, the largest sale of US military grade weaponry to the Saudis ever. By 1980, the Saudis were now establishing a “formidable” lobby onside US Congress. They believed the sole reason for this was the weakening of the Israeli Lobby under Carter. After the fall of the Shah of Iran, the US policy toward the Arab-Israeli peace shifted to regional security. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan, and the Saudis witnessed an attempted coup of their own, as Saudi militants led by Juhayman al-Otaybi on October 20th 1979, took over the Grand Mosque of Mecca. The Kingdom under King Fahd wanted to change the strategy of having an Islamic ulema become the prominent governing body rather than the government led by the “Sudairi Seven” which are the seven lineage of Ibn Saud.
In the course of all this, oil prices rose to approximately 60 percent which dragged down the American economy, this would ultimately witness Carter lose the reelection. Just months prior to the reelection however, Carter lobbied members of Congress to support Arab positions on arms sales and opposed recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. In return for this show of “loyalty”, the Saudis donated tens of millions to the Carter Center, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 whose stated goal is to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering in more than 80 countries, with a large percentage of them Arab nation states.
King Fahd would later state in an interview that if Israel agreed to withdraw from the disputed territories, Saudi Arabia would be willing to bring other Arab states and the Palestinians to the table and negotiate peace. It was a clear tactic to win support for an arms deal that was being supported by the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan in 1981. 8 months later the deal went thru. Under the Reagan administration, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan would become the sixth US-Saudi ambassador, but his tenure ship would become a revitalization of US-Saudi foreign relations overall. The Soviets would witness defeat as the United States began covertly supplying stinger missiles to the Afghan Mujahedeen which turned the tide of the war.
By 1984, Reagan had won reelection against democratic nominee, Walter Mondale. Just two months into his second administration Reagan bypassed Congress to authorize a sale of 400 Stinger missiles to the Saudis. The Kingdom noticed their value during the Afghan-Soviet war and wanted to purchase a large amount. The continued effort of having the Israeli Lobby at bay from American influence, Bandar Bin sultan started campaign lobbyists to support Saudi infrastructure and oil at relatively low prices. It worked. And within the next 20 years the Saudi Lobby became a prominent fixture in American foreign policy, led by Prince Bandar, who would grow to have a close relationship with the Bush family in particular. Reagan’s vice president was George H.W. Bush, a former CIA Director and also former oil field equipment salesman for Dresser Industries. Bin Sultan would have an even closer relationship under George W. Bush in 2001–2002, son of H.W. Bush.
The Saudi Lobby would become a de facto political force ever since. Leading many dissidents towards the corrupted, waste spending Kingdom, whose puritanical ideology of Wahhabi Islam to spear head to the poorest Arab nations, to become outspoken advocates. However the United States special interests groups in Washington DC have a vested interest in regulating the oil market, hundreds of millions at stake, to which even after the terrorist attack's of September 11th 2001, where evidence shows that certain prominent Saudis financed some of the terrorist operatives inside the United States, it was covered up by the highest officials in the White House. To this day, the Saudis along with the backing of the US government are interfering with 9/11 victim families investigations and civil suits that could very well illuminate the Saudi role in the attack's, which would promptly embarrass their US protectors in return.
Oil is definitely thicker than blood when it comes to protecting US-Saudi interests.