Saudi Arabia was established on Sept. 23, 1932 in a far different world than that of today. It was founded at the height of the age of empires and during the depths of the Great Depression.
The Kingdom, founded in the tumultuous year of 1932, would outlast Lenin’s Bolshevik Russia, the projected 1,000-year Reich of Hitler’s Germany, the British Empire, and even the Cold War that followed World War II.
In May 1931, the US extended full diplomatic recognition to Saudi Arabia, which had been the hope of King Abdul Aziz. In November 1931, a treaty was signed by both nations, which included favored nation status. In May 1933, the California Arabian Standard Oil Company began to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia, and thanks to the efforts of our American friends was found. On Feb. 16, 1943, US President Roosevelt stated that “the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital for the defense of the United States,” deepening the bond between the two countries.
The relationship truly began to grow at the Yalta Conference on the Crimea Peninsula in February 1945, where British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt met to decide the shape of postwar Europe and the conduct of the unfinished World War II in the Pacific. Another meeting also took place at Yalta: President Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy on Feb. 14, 1945. This meeting resulted in a geopolitical reality that exists to this day.
During the Cold War and afterwards, the countries shared the same strategic concerns. The Kingdom was opposed to the spread of communism and worked with the US to achieve this objective.
During the first Gulf War, Saudi armed forces conducted bombing raids inside Iraq and committed ground forces alongside the US to support the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait.
We believe in the stability of oil prices and investment in the economies of Western countries such as the US. We believe in protecting the security of international commerce at sea and freedom of navigation, like the US. We believe in taking a proactive stance in the fight against terrorism, like the US.
The terrorists who threaten Americans and the Western world also threaten the well-being of Saudi citizens, along with the Muslim world and humanity as a whole. We have long believed in the warmth and upright character of the American people and the value provided by American educators, to whom we send the majority of our sons and daughters to receive higher education.
Today, American presidents come to visit Riyadh as partners of the highest strategic order. In the 21st century, the Kingdom finds itself at the forefront of the global community with a large presence in the region and beyond. We are the only Arab country with membership of the G20.
Today, we are the bridge from Europe into the Middle East and beyond to Asia. We give thanks to the US and its people, who have been invaluable friends to us. Saudi Arabia is one of the first and initial signatories of the United Nations Charter established in the last months of World War II. The California Arabian Standard Oil Company became Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest companies. This is just one of the many fruits of the relationship that has developed since November 1931.
Under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom is fortunate to have an astute, capable and serious leadership that can offer credibility to our willingness to work with our friends on the issues that we face.
We live in a world of instability and uncertainty, in some cases submerged in pain, despair, sadism and even death. The Kingdom stands directly alongside our friends, the US, against belligerent and revisionist powers. Saudi Arabia is a capable, willing and serious partner in the most important issue of our time, the war against terrorism.
The two cases where the US is described as having a “special relationship” are Great Britain and Saudi Arabia. We reciprocate such sentiments a thousand-fold to the US and the American people. As a country, we will never forget where we have come from. We honor that by knowing where we are today, and what the possibilities for our future can be if we give responsible awareness and respect to our past. In the Kingdom, we look to this “special relationship” as one of the greatest legacies of King Abdul Aziz. Saudi Arabia today would not be recognizable to either President Roosevelt or King Abdul Aziz. We thank you for your sincere friendship, which we will never forget.
Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst. Twitter: @Mr_Alshammeri