“Beginning in 1943, I considered the interests of my country to be equal to those of the United States. After Allah, we trust America, ” Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia reportedly spoke to U.S. Ambassador Parker T. Hart in 1963. Despite recent statements by Joe Biden, who made the monarchy a “rejected” after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Democratic president went to Jeddah on Friday July 15, proof of the symbiotic relationship that unites Washington and Riyadh.
“This alliance began on February 14, 1945”, recalls David Rigoulet-Roze, researcher at the French Institute for Strategic Analysis and editor-in-chief of the journal Strategic directions. On that day, King Ibn Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, joined US President Franklin Roosevelt aboard the USS. Quincy, an American cruiser anchored on the Suez Canal. This meeting was passed on to the generation as the “Legendary Quincy Pact”, continued David Rigoulet-Roze.
The two leaders agreed to ship in an agreement “economically safe”, explained Anne Gadel, member of the North Africa and Middle East observatory at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. The United States agreed to militarily protect the Saudi kingdom in exchange for its oil.
A shared anti-communism
This is at least the most commonly accepted assumption because, in fact, there is no official transcript of the USS discussions. Quincy. And oil exploitation permits in the past “provided by SoCal”an American company, in the 1930s, promoted Anne Gadel.
The international context has undoubtedly pushed the United States to formalize this situation. At the end of World War II, Washington’s top priority was “to prevent the USSR from encroaching on the Middle East, which has the largest oil reserves in the world”, explained by David Rigoulet-Roze. The two countries then united in anti-communism.
Soviet support for the Egyptian regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser, a socialist and supporter of the unity of the Arab people, further strengthened the American-Saudi alliance. Still fighting against the USSR, Saudi Arabia heavily funded, with the support of the Americans, Islamists fought against Moscow forces in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989. At the same time, Riyadh agreed to lower the price of oil “to bring down the Soviet economy”, analyzed by David Rigoulet-Roze.
The separation of September 11, 2001
In 1980, “Jimmy Carter says any attack on Saudi Arabia will prompt a U.S. military response,” the researcher continued. Nothing seems to break the alliance of the two countries. Even in 1973, when oil -producing countries raised the price of a barrel in response to Washington’s support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War, “a secret clause providing that the American army will continue to be provided to carry out its war on Vietnam”.
The Palestinian question, which would become an obstacle in 1945, was quickly dismissed by Ibn Saud and Roosevelt. “In geopolitics, interest always comes before morality”, insisted David Rigoulet-Roze.
However, one major event could break the Quincy pact: the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 culprits were Saudis. Saudi Arabia at the time, which was actively exporting Salafism abroad, contained “the ideological and financial matrix” on international jihadism, analyzes David Rigoulet-Roze.
War in Ukraine and rivalry in China
The Quincy agreements were however carefully renewed for sixty years in 2005 by George W. Bush. “Interests are very important”, the researcher continued. However, Americans no longer rely on Saudi black gold since they developed shale oil. The reasons why Americans today rejoice over their old ally are somewhat different.
First, the war in Ukraine caused a rise in energy prices. “Americans don’t run out of oil, but they’re vulnerable to inflation,” explained by David Rigoulet-Roze. This issue is especially important as the mid-term elections approach. The United States needs the Saudis, who can increase their production to lower the price of hydrocarbon.
In addition, Riyadh has allowed the possibility of selling oil in yuan to emerge. “It’s a subliminal message that’s been received as it should be in Washington,” David Rigoulet-Roze sighed. If the American currency has hegemonic status, it is in part because 80% of oil transactions are done in dollars. The transfer of money to China could threaten America’s position on the international scene. Reason enough for Joe Biden to take the lead in suppressing his criticism of respect for human rights and embarking on a dangerous journey.