Saudi Arabia

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Overview
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div>Occupying two-thirds of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is a mostly desolate land with no rivers, no lakes, and no perennial streams. Its population stands at roughly 28.7 million, about one-fifth of whom are non-citizen foreign workers and other non-nationals. It is illegal for a Saudi citizen to follow a religion other than Islam. Eight-five percent of Saudi citizens are Sunnis and 7.4% are Shiites.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Contained within the borders of Saudi Arabia are two important elements that have transformed the country into a major player in the world scene. In the western region of Hijaz are the two holiest cities in the Islamic world: Mecca, the site of the Grand Mosque and Mount Arafat, where Mohammad preached his last sermon, and Medina, site of The Prophet&rsquo;s tomb and shrines to Islamic heroes. One of the duties of the world&rsquo;s 1.5 billion Muslims is to try to visit Mecca at least once in a lifetime. About two million Muslims make this pilgrimage (hajj) every year. In Hasa, in the east of the country, in the region occupied by the Shi&rsquo;a minority, is the nation&rsquo;s other great asset: oil. Saudi Arabia contains 20% of the world&rsquo;s oil reserves and accounts for 12.6 of the world&rsquo;s production. The Ghawar field, which provides half of the nation&rsquo;s output, is the largest oil field in the world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This nation of spiritual and material riches is ruled by the Saud family, a king and several thousand princes whose ruling style is a fusion of medieval feudalism and the Mafia. They follow a rigid, uncompromising version of Islam known to the West as Wahhabism. Although this sect of Islam rejects virtually everything Western culture stands for, the Saudi government has maintained a very close relationship with the United States. The Saudis have purchased tens of billions in military hardware and weaponry from the US, and it gladly accepted American and other foreign troops on Saudi soil in 1990 to protect the kingdom after Iraq invaded Kuwait, thus launching the First Gulf War.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia became strained after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, once it became known that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. Another interesting twist came immediately after the attacks. While all while commercial flights were grounded across the US, the US government secretly allowed 140 Saudis, mostly members of the royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden, to fly out of the United States without being questioned by the FBI,. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration officials pressured the Saudis to change their school curriculum to remove anti-Jewish and Christian messages found in Saudi textbooks&mdash;a change that has not come about for the most part. Despite these problems, the Bush White House had no trouble advocating for a $20 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia, claiming the weapons and hardware were needed so Saudi Arabia could buttress the growing threat of Iran in the region.</div>
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Basic Information
<p><b>Lay of the Land</b>: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in southwest Asia comprises most of the Arabian Peninsula. The south and southeast are occupied by the great Rub al Khali (&ldquo;Empty Quarter&rdquo;) Desert, through which run the largely undefined boundaries with South Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. A central plateau, the Nejd, rises from 2,000 feet in the east to 5,000 feet in the west and includes the capital, Riyadh. The Hejaz, site of Colonel T.E. Lawrence&rsquo;s famed exploits during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during World War I, stretches along the Red Sea coast and includes the holy cites of Mecca and Medina and the port of Jidda, commercial center of the kingdom. The Asir, extending south to the Yemeni border, has a fertile coastal plain and mountains rising to more than 9,000 feet.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Population</b>: 28.7 million</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Sunni Muslim 82.9%, Shi'a Muslim 7.4%, Christian 4.5%, Sulaimani Ismaili Shi'a Muslim 2.6%, Hindu 1.1%, Buddhist 0.3%, Sikh 0.2%, Ethnoreligious 0.2%, Chinese Universalist 0.1%, non-religious 0.6%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Arabic (official), Gulf Arabic (0.8%), Najdi Arabic 31.0%, Hijazi Arabic 23.3%.</div>
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History
<p><b>Muhammad and the Birth of Islam</b></p> <div>The history of Saudi Arabia is inevitably tied to the history of Islam. Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the founder of Islam, was born in about 570 AD in Mecca, which at the time was a commercial center that contained the Kaaba, a temple that was the destination of a pre-Islamic annual pilgrimage. In his youth, Muhammad traveled extensively with his merchant uncle and was exposed to the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity. When he was forty years old, Muhammad was meditating in a cave when he had a vision of the Angel Gabriel, who taught him various verses that were later transcribed and became the Quran.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Muhammad gradually developed followers and, by 622, the Muslim community was large enough to be considered a threat to the local authorities. So Muhammad and his followers fled to the nearby oasis of Yathrib, which they renamed Medina. Cut off from their own tribes and without land of their own, Muhammad and his followers began raiding caravans on their way to Mecca. In 623, fighting broke out between the Meccans and the Muslims, but by 630 Muhammad&rsquo;s forces were so strong that they were able to conquer Mecca without a fight. They destroyed the town&rsquo;s idols, but kept the black stone of the Kaaba and transformed the annual pilgrimage into a Muslim one. Muhammad died in 632, having spread his faith over all of the Arabian Peninsula. His followers then carried Islam around the world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Muslim leaders who succeeded Muhammad were known (in English) as caliphs. The fourth caliph, Ali, moved his capital from Medina to Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula reverted to tribalism. The Ottoman Turks took power in Arabia in the 16th century, and it was also during this period that the Saudi extended family settled in the area.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Saud and Wahhab</b></div> <div>The histories of the Saud and other families also play an important role in the history of Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Muhammad bin Saud was just another tribal leader in the central Arabian region of Nejd when, in 1744, he provided shelter for a local preacher and judge named Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab. Under the rule of the Ottomans, Islam, having already split into factions, lost its fervor. Wahhab&rsquo;s message was that Islam needed to be cleansed. Although they are known to much of the world today as Wahhabis, the followers of Wahhab called themselves Unitarians (muwahaddun). Wahhab believed that there should be no distinction between religion and the state; all conduct, including government, should be based on the original, unadulterated rules set down in the Quran and interpreted by the first three generations after Muhammad. &nbsp;He taught that all Muslims were equal, regardless of their class, nationality, or ethnic or tribal origin. Nonbelievers, on the other hand, were subject to punishment. His punishment for adultery exemplified his view of women: the man was reprieved, but the woman was stoned to death.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wahhab&rsquo;s teachings were not particularly popular, but they did attract Saud, and together they formed a powerful combination of military power and religious proselytizing. To this day, the descendents of Muhammad bin Saud control the government of Saudi Arabia and the descendents of Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab control its religious affairs. It is this same combination of sword and God that has allowed the Saud family to establish kingdoms in Arabia three times.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the 18th century, Saudi forces captured Mecca and Medina and, eventually, almost one million square miles. While the Ottoman Turks were busy dealing with the Napoleonic Wars, the Wahhabis destroyed all traces of the Turks, including shrines and mosques they had built. In 1811, the Viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, launched the Ottoman counterattack. In 1818, his son, Ibrahim Pasha, conquered Mecca and then continued another 500 miles to Nejd, the center of Wahhabism. His troops also destroyed the Saudi capital of Diriya. Ibrahim Pasha was not a compassionate conqueror. His troops took all the food they could find, and they sent the Saudi ruler to Constantinople (Istanbul) where he was beheaded.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Battling for Power</b></div> <div>The grandson of Muhammad bin Saud, Turki, and his son Faisal established a new Saudi capital at Riyadh in the first part of the 19th century and set about re-conquering the lands they had lost and reconverting the populace to Wahhabism. Their efforts received a setback in 1871 when the Turks occupied the eastern Arabian province of Hasa and gave their support to a rival family, the Rashidis. The loss of Hasa was a heavy blow to the Saud family because it was the source of the dates and pearls that they used to bribe the tribes of central Arabia. The Rashidis gained control of all of the Saudi domains, and the Saud family were reduced to figurehead leaders with no power. In January 1891, the Saudis, led by Abdul Rahman, abandoned Riyadh and went into exile. After two years on the road, they sheltered in Qatar and then settled in Kuwait, from which they began to launch raids against the Rashidis. When Muhammad bin Rashid died in 1897, clan infighting broke out, opening a window of opportunity for the Saudis.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1902, the Saud family recaptured Riyadh, but this part of history has been raised to such a mythic level in Saudi Arabia that it is difficult to sort out the facts from the legend. It appears that in late September of 1901, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, the son of Abdul Rahman, left Kuwait with a fighting force of forty men. Their numbers grew to about 200, but many drifted away as it became clear that the opportunities for plunder were slim. Armed with daggers, swords, pistols, rifles, and short-shafted spears, there were fifty or sixty warriors left when they reached the outskirts of Riyadh in January 1902. Scaling the walls of the Masmak battlements in the middle of the night, they waited until morning. When the governor, Rashid Ibn Ajlan, emerged from prayers, Abdul Aziz and his men launched their attack. A melee ensued and Abdul Aziz&rsquo;s cousin killed Ajlan. Abdul Aziz appeared on top of the battlements holding Ajlan&rsquo;s head and then threw it down to the anxious crowd below. When the Saud family returned to Riyadh, Abdul Aziz tried to hand over control of the city to his father, but Abdul Rahman, following tribal tradition, handed authority back to his son because he was deemed more fit for the job. Only twenty-one years old, Abdul Aziz, who came to be known internationally as Ibn Saud, was the leader of a family that had twice controlled most of Arabia.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the 20th century, the political dynamics of the Middle East became intertwined with the larger struggles of great powers, such as Britain and Turkey. While in Kuwait, Ibn Saud had been impressed by the way the nation&rsquo;s leader, Sheikh Mubarak, had escaped Turkish control by cultivating the British, and he tried to do the same. However, whereas Kuwait had a harbor, Riyadh had nothing that the British wanted. In fact, the Western powers had so little interest in the region that their cartographers did not even know the latitude and longitude of Riyadh. Left to his own devices, Ibn Saud and his warriors managed to fight off a counterattack by the Rashidis, but their resources were so depleted by their effort that in February 1905, Ibn Saud, in exchange for control of Nejd, had to accept the official role of district commissioner for the Ottoman Turks. The Saudis needed another four or five years to completely eliminate the Rashidi threat.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Saudis also faced another regional challenger, the Hashemites, who would later rule modern Syria and Iraq and still rule Jordan. The House of Hashim had ruled Mecca since 1073. In December 1908, the Turks appointed Sharif Hussein, the leader of the Hashemites, the emir, or governor, of Hijaz. In 1910, Sharif Hussein captured Ibn Saud&rsquo;s brother and kept him hostage until the Saudis paid a ransom. At this point the British decided to foment an Arab revolt against the Turks and looked for a leader among the Arabs. Given the choice between Ibn Saud and Sharif Hussein, the British chose Hussein because one, he had lived in Turkey and was familiar with modern politics; two, he was a descendant of Muhammad; and three, because his home base Hijaz was more important than Ibn Saud&rsquo;s home base of Nejd. In addition, Wahhabism was not popular outside of Nejd.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1913, Saudi forces invaded Hasa on the Persian Gulf. Enlisting the aid of the local Bedouin, an Arab ethnic group, they defeated the Turks. This victory gave the Saudis date palms and access to the sea. It also earned them vast stretches of sand under which, unbeknownst to them at the time, was something that would prove far more valuable: oil.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Soon the Turks and the British were engaged in a chess match, searching for the right Arab allies to serve as surrogate armies in their larger struggle. For their part, Ibn Saud and Sharif Hussein sought protection from these stronger powers in their local battle against each other. In the spring of 1914, Ibn Saud accepted the Turkish title of wali (governor). Two years later, when British troops captured Basra in Iraq, they discovered a secret treaty in which the Saudis had promised the Turks not to grant concessions to the British. On December 26, 1915, however, Ibn Saud signed a ten-year treaty with the British in which he would be recognized as the ruler of Nejd and its dependencies under British protection. In exchange, he agreed to not attack any neighboring sheikhs. In fact, this was what he had asked of the British back in 1902.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In June 1916, Sharif Hussein also made a deal with the British, who gave him arms to fight the Turks. Sharif Hussein also convinced the nobles of Mecca to proclaim him &ldquo;King of the Arabs,&rdquo; a presumption that did not sit well with the vast majority of Arabs. Finally, the Ottoman Turks lost control of the Arabian Peninsula forever.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After World War I, however, it became clear that Britain and other great powers had little interest in honoring their promises to the Arabs. In November 1917, the Bolsheviks in Russia, published the Sykes-Picot Agreement which revealed that Great Britain and France had promised independence to the Arabs only to create an Arab revolt against the Turks, and that they had no intention of allowing the Arabs to keep control of any land beyond the peninsula. In addition, a letter from Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lord Rothschild, the president of the British Zionist Federation, gave approval for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British hoped that the Jews would help protect the Suez Canal. Many British leaders also wanted to rid Europe of the Jews, whom they viewed as dangerously revolutionary. This incident taught Ibn Saud that he had be more careful in his dealings with the British.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When the Saudis defeated the Hashemites at the Battle of Turabah in May 1919, the British switched their main Arab allegiance to Ibn Saud. Two months later they invited Ibn Saud to visit Great Britain. The Saudi leader declined the invitation, but instead sent his fourteen-year-old son, Faisal, who thus became the first member of the House of Saud to visit Europe.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>The Ikhwan</b></div> <div>Ibn Saud made an alliance with the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) in 1921. The Ikhwan were desert evangelicals who took the Quran as the literal Word of God and wanted to revive the severe restrictions of Wahhabism. They punished Muslims who did not attend mosque services and they threatened Christians. They opposed anything that smacked of affectation, including silk, gold, long mustaches, and trimmed beards. They also opposed anything that did not exist during the time of Muhammad 1,300 years earlier, including tobacco, telephones, and telegraphs. They did allow one exception: rifles. Once Ibn Saud and the Ikhwan were aligned, they defeated the remaining forces of the House of Rashid, one of whose leaders, Saud, died in battle, leaving behind three widows. Ibn Saud gave one Rashidi widow to his brother, one to his own son, Saud, and kept the third one, Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim, for himself. In 1924, Fahda gave birth to Abdullah, the current king of Saudi Arabia.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>As a result of the Uqair Conference in November 1922, Ibn Saud gained a disputed strip of land claimed by Kuwait, but lost other land to Iraq. With British support, the Hashemites created Transjordan (present-day Jordan) to the north and assumed the throne of Iraq, which meant that Ibn Saud was practically surrounded by Hashemites. Sharif Hussein, desperate for money, doubled the price of entrance for pilgrims to Mecca. In late 1924 he banned the Ikhwan from participating in the hajj. The Ikhwan responded by attacking Mecca and overthrowing Hussein. His forces surrendered Medina the following year and, thanks to the military prowess of the Ikhwan, Ibn Saud was declared King of Hejaz.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>But Ibn Saud still had to deal with the Ikhwan, who were also supported by the Bedouin nomads. In 1927, he held a conference with 3,000 Ikhwan, who voiced their complaints to him: they did not approve of the introduction of telegraph lines; they did approve of young Faisal&rsquo;s visit to England; they wanted him to punish the Shiites for their interpretation of Islam; and they wanted the Muslim &ldquo;infidels&rdquo; from Iraq and Transjordan to stop using Saudi grazing land. As sympathetic as Ibn Saud was to many of the positions of the Ikhwan, he recognized that they were a threat to his personal power. As he formed a new government, he drastically centralized authority and he filled almost all of the most important government posts with members of his own family. The Ikhwan revolted, but, with the help of the British, who now looked to Ibn Saud as their man in the region, he defeated them. Over the next four years, Ibn Saud&rsquo;s forces put down a series of revolts and successfully consolidated his rule.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ibn Saud granted his first oil drilling concession in 1923 to a New Zealander named Major Frank Holmes. Nothing came of the deal. Then Standard Oil of California obtained the exploration rights to 360,000 square miles in Saudi Arabia. It finally struck oil in Hasa on March 20, 1938. Exploitation of the find was delayed by World War II.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>The Kingdom Established</b></div> <div>On September 18, 1932, Ibn Saud, at the age of fifty-two, declared himself the King of Saudi Arabia. Actually, the concept of a king had never been accepted in central Arabia, where tribal tradition supported less centralized leadership, but Ibn Saud was inspired by European royalty and so a king he would be. He ran his new country like the Mafia. Cousins by marriage became lieutenants, half-brothers were given areas to rule, and non-Saudis, if they proved their loyalty, were treated like adjuncts to the family.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Pursuing Wahhabist doctrine, Ibn Saud took the position that there should not be a division between religion and the state. He claimed that his absolute authority was sanctioned by Allah and that disobedience to him was heresy. He used the ulema (religious leaders) to issue fatwas (written judgments) to justify his policies. He tried to expand his kingdom by invading Yemen, but the Yemenis successfully resisted and Ibn Saud had to settle for a peace treaty.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Internationally, he flirted with the Soviets, who loaned him oil, and with the Nazis, who gave him German-made rifles and built him an arms factory in Riyadh. Basically though, Ibn Saud leaned toward Great Britain through most of World War II. On February 14, 1945, after the Yalta Conference, Ibn Saud met for the first time with a non-Muslim leader: the president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who died two months later, agreed to help the Jewish people only in ways that were not hostile to the Arabs. Ibn Saud also met with Winston Churchill, who irritated him by smoking. By the end of the war, Saudi Arabia had turned away from Great Britain and embraced the United States. Ibn Saud also managed to declare war on Germany in time to be invited to join the United Nations.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After the end of WWII, the Saudis renegotiated their oil contracts. Although they lost quite a bit of money to American accounting practices, what was left made Ibn Saud an extremely wealthy man.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite the severe restrictions of Wahhabism, he managed to father more than sixty children, and a common joke was that the only way that Ibn Saud united the Arab people was in bed.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Two: Saud</b></div> <div>As early as 1933, Ibn Saud designated his eldest surviving son, Saud ibn Abdul Aziz, crown prince, meaning that he was the successor to the throne. Ibn Saud also groomed his second-eldest son, Faisal, as a successor. By 1950 the founder&rsquo;s health was deteriorating, and he handed over authority to Crown Prince Saud. Saud and Faisal were very different, and the tension between them would color the politics of Saudi Arabia for the next 14 years. Faisal was well-educated, well-traveled, and sophisticated, while Saud was a man of the desert who spoke no foreign languages and who preferred remaining in the Saudi home base of Nejd. Saud strengthened various religious prohibitions and expanded the reach of the religious enforcers, the Society for the Encouragement of Good and the Prevention of Evil. His strict Wahhabist beliefs made him unpopular in Hejaz. Faisal, on the other hand, gained popularity by legalizing football (soccer) in 1951, which had previously been banned because men exposed their thighs in public and because the ulema considered football a cover for subversive activity. Ibn Saud died at one of Faisal&rsquo;s palaces on November 9, 1953. The fifty-one-year-old Saud ibn Abdul Aziz became Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s second king and Faisal moved up to crown prince.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was unusually popular in the Arab world because he had overthrown the Egyptian monarachy and he promoted Arab rejection of foreign powers. When Nasser visited Saudi Arabia in 1956 to ask for oil, he was greeted by the largest demonstration in the nation&rsquo;s history. Saud ibn Abdul Aziz felt threatened by Nasser&rsquo;s antimonarchist policies. In July of that year, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and he did so without consulting Saud. As angry as that made Saud, it was nothing compared to his reaction when Great Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt in October. Saud broke relations with the British and the French and halted oil shipments to both countries. It was Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first oil embargo, but it would not be the last. Saudi oil revenue fell by 40%, but there was a silver lining in the uproar: US President Dwight Eisenhower, immersed in a Cold War anti-Communist crusade, decided to make Saud his representative in the Arab world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Three: Faisal</b></div> <div>King Saud earned a reputation for overspending and alcoholism. In 1958, the nine leading brothers in the Saudi royal family, increasingly concerned about this, asked Crown Prince Faisal to return from the United States, where he was recovering from surgery. Faisal cracked down on corruption, using tactics such as giving each family member a personal allowance and banning the import of private automobiles. By 1962, he had cleared the national debt. Saud tried to return to power in December 1960, forming an unlikely alliance with a group of liberal half-brothers led by Finance Minister Prince Talal. Talal ventured the radical proposal that Saudi Arabia should have a constitution. However, the ulema declared that the nation already had a constitution: Islamic Shari&rsquo;a law. Saud dismissed Talal and revoked his passport.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, the Saudi conflict with Nasser was continuing to fester. Nasser and Saud traded assassination attempts (both officially denied). In 1958, Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic, but three years later Saud managed to convince the Syrians to withdraw from the union by slipping $12 million to the Syrian royal family. Nasser&rsquo;s popularity was growing throughout the Arab world, but then he made a fatal mistake. On September 26, 1962, revolutionaries overthrew the royal family of Yemen. The House of Saud was naturally alarmed to see a royal family right across its border lose all their power, particularly when the Egyptian army arrived in Yemen to help the new government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Furthermore, the new US president, John F. Kennedy, did not buy the argument that the Saudi royal family was a legitimate bastion against Communism. But he did agree to give the Saudis military exercises if they would initiate reforms. So in November 1962, Faisal announced a ten-point reform program that included the abolition of slavery. At the time there were about 30,000 slaves in Saudi Arabia; the government bought 4,000 of them.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Faisal shared responsibilities with three of his younger brothers. He put future King Fahd in charge of reforms; he put future King Abdullah in command of the mostly tribal National Guard, which was responsible for domestic security and political repression; and he gave command of the Yemeni war against Egypt to future crown prince Sultan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the spring of 1963, the republican revolutionaries in Yemen announced their intention to reclaim the province of Asir, which the Saudis had taken in 1920. The Egyptian military, using Soviet arms, bombed three southern towns in Saudi Arabia, killing many people including 36 patients in a hospital. President Kennedy sent fighter jets over Saudi cities to draw the line on Nasser&rsquo;s aggression.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In December 1963, Saud again demanded that he be given power and he retired to his palace along with 1,500 troops. Three months later, 70 princes of the House of Saud met in what they called a Council of Those Who Bind and Loose. King Saud told the princes, &ldquo;I am not Queen Elizabeth. Arabian kings are kings or nothing.&rdquo; The princes agreed. The ulema declared Saud unfit to rule and the princes gave the kingdom to Faisal.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Faisal was proclaimed king on November 2, 1964, and his brother Khalid was promoted to crown prince. By this time, Nasser was increasingly preoccupied with his conflict with Israel, and the war in Yemen was draining the Egyptian coffers. In June 1967, Israel crushed the Egyptian-led Arab forces in the Six-Day War and doubled its size by conquering land that belonged to Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Nasser could not continue the war in Yemen. He met with King Faisal and agreed to withdraw Egyptian troops from the country. After five years, Faisal had emerged victorious over Nasser.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Six-Day War destroyed Arab illusions about their power. But for Saudi Arabia it had a positive aspect because it left the Saudis as the strongest Arab nation. It also increased Faisal&rsquo;s hatred of Israel, which now controlled Jerusalem, Islam&rsquo;s third-holiest city behind Mecca and Medina.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Domestically, Faisal put an end to the period of reform in 1965. He initiated a witch hunt, ordering the arrest of anyone who was even remotely pro-Nasser. He put the Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s most respected religious leader, in charge of the nation&rsquo;s education. He ordered all government officials to join in group prayers. Sex segregation was formally imposed at the age of nine, at which time a girl also had to start wearing a veil. He forbade the installation of direct-dial telephones because men and women might talk together in a lewd manner. Instead, all calls had to go through operators. Faisal also forbade the use of Cadillacs because they were associated with ex-King Saud. He did allow the introduction of television, although it was heavily censored. Even scenes of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse kissing were excised. After the Grand Mufti died, Faisal created a Ministry of Justice to take control of the religious courts, and he took the responsibility of interpreting Shari&rsquo;a law from the new Grand Mufti. He also co-opted the ulema by creating a 17-member Council of Senior Ulema that was answerable to his rule.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1969, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s only Arab allies were other monarchies. But Faisal smoothed relations with more countries, including Egypt after the death of Nasser in 1970. By 1971, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s only Arab enemies were Yemen and Iraq. Still, the Saudis were nervous. When Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya and the Ba&rsquo;athist regime in Iraq nationalized the operations of British Petroleum in January 1972, King Faisal offered the United States unlimited oil in exchange for military protection.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On October 6, 1973, during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Egypt and Syria&mdash;seeking to recapture the land they lost in 1967&mdash;attacked Israel. The US president, Richard Nixon, ignoring pleas from the oil industry, gave $2.2 billion in emergency aid to Israel. Back in 1960, Saudi Arabia, along with Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela, had created the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose members represented 80% of the world&rsquo;s oil production. The day after Nixon&rsquo;s 1973 announcement of support for Israel, OPEC declared that, for the first time, the producers would set the price of oil, and they immediately cut production by 10% and threatened to cut 5% more each month until the Israeli-Palestinian problem was settled. King Faisal announced that a holy war had begun. He stopped all oil shipments to the United States and he vowed to continue the embargo until he could &ldquo;pray in Jerusalem under an Arab flag.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Unfortunately for Faisal, Saudi Arabia provided only 4% of the American oil supply and Iran, Iraq, and Libya were happy to keep pumping and make up the deficit. Only 16 days after the beginning of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the United States and the USSR helped negotiate a ceasefire. Faisal&rsquo;s vow to punish the West until the Arabs controlled Jerusalem fell flat. However, as in 1968, a war against Israel turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Saudi royal family. The world needed more and more oil. Faisal ended the embargo on March 19, 1974, after President Nixon agreed to sell to Saudi Arabia sophisticated fighter aircraft, tanks, and naval vessels. As soon as the embargo was lifted, Saudi wealth mushroomed. Between 1973 and 1974, the price of oil more than tripled, from $2.70 a barrel to $9.80 and oil exports skyrocketed from $5.9 billion in 1973 to $32.5 billion in 1974. The Saudis had no problems spending their jackpot. Car imports tripled in a year and real estate prices rose dramatically.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On March 26, 1975, King Faisal was shot to death by one of his nephews, 26-year-old Faisal ibn Musaid. Saudi security forces interrogated the younger Faisal and three months later beheaded him. The interrogators could not find any motive for Faisal&rsquo;s act, and the official Saudi line was that he was crazy and on drugs. In fact, it was not difficult to surmise a motive. Ten years earlier, Faisal&rsquo;s older brother had taken part in a violent protest against a television station in Riyadh. King Faisal ordered an assault against the protesters and Faisal&rsquo;s brother was killed. Faisal had studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and had been exposed to the radical politics of the time. His uncle was not only a well-known tyrant, but the king had killed his own brother.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Four: Khalid</b></div> <div>Khalid ibn Abdul Aziz was 63 years old when he assumed the throne of Saudi Arabia. Khalid was not an ambitious man and was satisfied with a ceremonial role. The new crown prince, his younger brother Fahd, took charge of the nation&rsquo;s most important decisions. Still, Khalid&rsquo;s reign coincided with a tumultuous time in the region&rsquo;s history. In February 1979, the pro-Western Shah of Iran was overthrown and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic Republic run by Shiites. This inspired the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia, and the government used force to put down violent rioting.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On November 20, 1979, about 700 armed members of a messianic Wahhabi group seized control of the Grand Mosque, one of the holy sites in Mecca. Their leader, Juhaiman al-Utaibi, demanded the overthrow of the Saud family, the expulsion of all foreigners, and an accounting for the nation&rsquo;s wealth that the royal family had wasted. It took Saudi troops, with support from Great Britain, France, and Jordan, two weeks to flush out the rebels. By then, almost 300 people had been killed, including 25 pilgrims and 20 hostages. Of the 143 rebels who were taken prisoner, 63 were publicly beheaded.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Three weeks later, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. The Saudi regime was shaken by these threats from both inside and outside the country. But President Jimmy Carter pledged to protect the Saudi royals and their oil fields. &ldquo;Any assault on the Gulf,&rdquo; he declared, &ldquo;will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Five: Fahd</b></div> <div>When Khalid died in 1982, Fahd moved up to king and Abdullah, the longtime commander of the National Guard, ascended to crown prince. Back in the 1950s, Fahd had served as Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first minister of education and later, as King Faisal&rsquo;s interior minister for 13 years. Like his father, Ibn Saud, and his older brother Saud, Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz enjoyed the good life. He loved food, women, gambling, and luxury. When he visited Monte Carlo and France, paparazzi caught him in front of casinos and brothels. As late as 2003, when he was eighty years old, he brought with him on a vacation in Marbella, Spain, 350 attendants, fifty black Mercedes, and a 234-foot yacht. Fahd&rsquo;s regime saw a rise in corruption, with kickbacks reportedly going as high as 30% in the armaments and construction industries. Fahd did put some of the nation&rsquo;s oil profits to good use, providing new highways, free water, and a free modern hospital system.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The early years of Fahd&rsquo;s reign marked the beginning of deficit spending, as 25% of the gross national product was spent on defense, and Saudi Arabia became the world&rsquo;s leading importer of advanced weapons. There was also a marked growth in foreign labor, even while Saudi unemployment remained high. Fahd allowed women to take jobs in all-female beauty salons, schools, banks, and services, but this led to an increased presence of the religious police on the lookout for forbidden interaction between the sexes.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1986, Fahd gave himself the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, but it was this role that brought him into conflict with the supporters of Iran&rsquo;s Islamic Revolution. Iranian-inspired rioting left 400 dead during the 1987 hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Fahd approved the reduction of Iran&rsquo;s pilgrim quota from 150,000 to 40,000, whereupon Iran boycotted the hajj.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Fahd also used his nation&rsquo;s oil largesse to fund foreign wars, but two of these projects would come back to haunt him. He had given major support to the mujahedin fighting the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan, and he had encouraged and paid young Saudi men to go there and fight. When the Soviet troops finally left Afghanistan in 1989, the Saudi mujahedin returned home to an economy that was short on jobs. But now they were militant Islamists, and they were well-trained military fighters. In the years to come, these returning mujahedin, and younger men to whom they would pass on their ideology, would become a dangerous threat to the Saudi royal family.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the Saudi government gave $25.7 billion in aid to Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, on the assumption that he was the lesser of two evils. Having spent massive amounts of money to upgrade its own military, the Saudi royal family exuded confidence. On April 27, 1990, Defense Minister Prince Sultan boasted, &ldquo;There are no foreign troops in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is because the Kingdom&rsquo;s policy is to rely on Allah and the arms of its sons in defending itself and its holy places.&rdquo; Three months later, Iraq invaded Kuwait and easily overran the country. Fearful that the Iraqis would cross the border into Saudi Arabia, King Fahd panicked. Osama bin Laden proposed to use the battle-hardened mujahedin to defend the country, but Fahd viewed bin Laden as a threat to his own power. Instead, Fahd, without consulting Crown Prince Abdullah or other members of the family, decided to accept US President George H. W. Bush&rsquo;s offer to defend the kingdom. More than 500,000 American troops poured into Saudi Arabia along with more than 200,000 troops from other, mostly Arab nations. The presence of the Americans was humiliating to many citizens of Saudi Arabia, who were disgusted at being protected by &ldquo;Jews and women.&rdquo; Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s forces, although numerous, were weak, poorly trained, and easily defeated. When this became clear, it exposed the weakness of the Saudi regime, which had wasted billions of dollars on its military and yet was unable to defend itself. The war was over by the end of February 1991, but King Fahd and the royal family still had a heavy price to pay, both literally and figuratively. Saudi Arabia reimbursed the United States and other coalition members to the tune of $65 billion, and then laid out another $50 billion to buy more weapons.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Discontent with the regime mildly emboldened opponents of the royal family to submit petitions for reform. One such Letter of Demands, signed by hundreds of ulemas, academics, and lawyers, called for an end to privilege for the royal family, a requirement that state officials be competent, an end to usury and taxes, and the safeguarding of individual rights. The royal family rejected the demands, and the Senior Ulema Council ruled that Saudi citizens did not have the right to publicly petition the king. King Fahd did propose in 1992 that Saudi Arabia adopt its first written constitution. He also appointed a ninety-member consultative council, the Majlis al-Shura, which had no power.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since it was obvious that the royal family had no intention of giving up even a tiny piece of power, it was not surprising that a violent opposition soon developed. Overwhelmingly, the Saudi people believed that the United States had used Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s invasion of Kuwait as an excuse to establish a permanent military presence in their country. There was a civilian insurrection in the town of al-Bureida, followed by hundreds of arrests. On November 13, 1995, a bomb attack on a US military mission in Riyadh killed five people and wounded sixty. Four Saudis were ultimately beheaded for the crime.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Six: Abdullah</b></div> <div>Two weeks after the Riyadh bombing, Fahd suffered a stroke. Although he continued to be king, his duties were gradually turned over to Crown Prince Abdullah. Even though he did not officially take over as king of Saudi Arabia until Fahd&rsquo;s death in 2005, Abdullah has been the de facto ruler of the country.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On June 26, 1996, four weeks after the beheading of the men found guilty of the Riyadh bombing, a truck carrying 5,000 pounds of explosives blew up near the barracks of the US Air Force base at Khobar, killing 19 people and wounding more than 500, most of them Americans.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/satoc.html">Library of Congress Country Study</a></div> <div><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Saudi_Arabia">History of Saudi Arabia</a> (Wikipedia)</div>
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Saudi Arabia's Newspapers
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/saudi.htm">Saudi Arabia's Newspapers</a></div>
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History of U.S. Relations with Saudi Arabia
<p>Diplomatic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia were established in 1933. The US embassy opened in Jeddah in 1944 (and moved to Riyadh in 1984). The US consulate general in Dhahran opened in 1944 in response to the growing oil-related US presence in eastern Saudi Arabia.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div>By the early 1940s, the extent of Saudi oil resources had become known, and the United States petroleum companies that held the concession to develop the oil fields were urging Washington to assume more responsibility for security and political stability in the region. Consequently, in 1943 the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the defense of Saudi Arabia was a vital interest to the United States and dispatched the first US military mission to the kingdom. In addition to providing training for the Saudi army, the United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed the airfield at Dhahran and other facilities.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US-Saudi security relationship steadily expanded during the Cold War. This process was facilitated by the shared suspicions of Riyadh and Washington regarding the nature of the Soviet threat to the region and the necessity of containing Soviet influence. As early as 1947, the Truman administration formally assured Saudi Arabia that its territorial integrity and political independence was a primary objective of the United States. This commitment became the basis for the 1951 mutual defense assistance agreement. Under this agreement, the United States provided military equipment and training for the Saudi armed forces. An important provision of the bilateral pact authorized the United States to establish a permanent United States Military Training Mission in the kingdom.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When King Saud visited New York in January 1957, the city&rsquo;s Catholic mayor, Robert Wagner, refused to welcome him. Wagner cited Saud&rsquo;s anti-Semitic remarks, his refusal to allow Jewish soldiers to participate in the US Training Mission in Saudi Arabia, his banning of Christian ceremonies, and the fact that Saudi Arabia still practiced slavery. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon put the case bluntly. &ldquo;Here we are &hellip;pouring by way of gifts to that totalitarian state, Saudi Arabia, millions of dollars of the taxpayers&rsquo; money to maintain the military forces of a dictatorship. We ought to have our heads examined.&rdquo; None of this mattered to President Dwight Eisenhower, who increased US aid to Saudi Arabia by $180 million in exchange for five-year use of the Dhahran military base.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US-Saudi relationship endured despite strains caused by differences over Israel. Saudi Arabia had not become reconciled to the 1948 establishment of Israel in the former Arab-dominated territory of Palestine and refused to extend Israel diplomatic recognition or to engage in any form of relations with Israel. Despite this position, Riyadh acknowledged that its closest ally, the United States, had a special relationship with Israel. After the June 1967 War, however, Saudi Arabia became convinced that Israel opposed Riyadh&rsquo;s strong ties with Washington and wanted to weaken them.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the 1970s and 1980s, periodic controversies over United States arms sales to the kingdom tended to reinforce Saudi concerns about the extent of political influence that supporters of Israel wielded in Washington. In several instances congressional leaders opposed United States weapons sales on the grounds that the Saudis might use them against Israel. Despite assurances from Saudi officials that the weapons were necessary for their country's defense, Congress reduced or canceled many proposed arms sales.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1985 President Reagan (who received campaign contributions from the Saudi royal family during his 1984 re-election campaign) sought authority to sell Saudi Arabia 42 F-15s, antiaircraft missiles, Harpoon antiship missiles, and Blackhawk troop-carrying helicopters. The proposal raised a storm of opposition in Congress and had to be withdrawn. In 1986 and 1988, scaled-down packages were introduced and eventually approved by Congress after Stinger antiaircraft and Maverick antitank missiles were deleted. Among the approved items were Bradley fighting vehicles, TOW II antitank missiles, electronic upgrades for the F-15s, and 12 additional F-15s to remain in the United States until needed as replacements.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite getting shortchanged in its military requests, Saudi Arabia was willing to step up and help the Reagan administration in key areas of foreign policy. When Congress made it illegal to give money and weapons to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, the Saudis donated $32 million to the Contra cause. They also helped finance US covert operations in Lebanon.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>United States arms transfer agreements with Saudi Arabia increased dramatically in 1990. Of a total of $14.5 billion in contracts signed, $6.1 billion preceded the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. They included LAVs, TOW II launchers and missiles, and 155mm howitzers, 315 M1A2 tanks, and 30 tank recovery vehicles. Following Iraq&rsquo;s occupation of Kuwait, Washington dispatched more than 400,000 troops to the kingdom to ward off potential aggression. This was not the first time that United States forces had been stationed on Saudi soil. The huge Dhahran Air Base had been used by the United States Air Force from 1946 to 1962. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy had ordered a squadron of fighters to Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom from Egyptian air assaults. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter loaned four sophisticated airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft and their crews to Saudi Arabia to monitor developments in the Iran-Iraq War.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>However, the presence of United States and other foreign forces prior to and during the Persian Gulf War was of an unprecedented magnitude. Despite the size of the United States and allied contingents, the military operations ran relatively smoothly. The absence of major logistical problems was due in part to the vast sums that Saudi Arabia had invested over the years to acquire weapons and equipment, construct modern military facilities, and train personnel.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After the war, Saudi Arabia again faced the prospect of congressional opposition to its requests for weapons. Riyadh believed that it cooperation in the war against Iraq demonstrated the legitimacy of its defense requirements. Nevertheless, the United States informed Saudi officials that their request to purchase $20 billion in military equipment probably would not win the required approval of Congress. Riyadh reluctantly agreed to an administration proposal to revise its request into two or three separate packages, which would be submitted in consecutive years. This process tended to erode the positive feelings created during the war and revive Saudi resentments about being treated as a less than equal ally.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The troubles over military sales did not poison the strong relationship between President George H. W. Bush and the House of Saud. Royal family members gave a $2 million painting to the White House, $1.1 million to the George Bush Presidential Library, and $500,000 to the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy.</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Saudi Arabia
<p>&nbsp;<b>Noted Saudi Arabian-American</b></p> <div><b>Ferial Masry</b> is a Democratic politician currently running for California State Assembly in the 37th District. She was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and moved to Egypt when she was ten in order to receive an education. She graduated from Cairo University with a degree in journalism and later moved to Southern California with her husband. She is a champion of education and women&rsquo;s rights and was rewarded the Human Rights Award in 2005.</div> <p>The Saudi royal family did not know quite what to make of George W. Bush during the early months of his presidency. They considered his father a good friend and George W. himself had been in the oil business. Yet in August 2001, the new President Bush infuriated King Abdullah by publicly stating that the violence between Israel and Palestine was the fault of the Palestinians. Previous presidents had shown at least a little sympathy for the Palestinian plight and had occasionally rebuked the Israelis for one excess or another. Abdullah passed on his displeasure through diplomatic channels, stating in a letter to Bush that because of US support for Israel, &ldquo;It is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look at their separate interests.&rdquo; Abdullah was delighted when Bush responded with a letter reversing his position.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On September 11, 2001, terrorists using hijacked planes attacked New York&rsquo;s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The US government quickly revealed the identities of the nineteen, fifteen of whom were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, was also a Saudi, as was Osama bin Laden, the godfather of al-Qaeda, the organization that oversaw the planning of the attacks. Many Saudis could not accept the fact that their own citizens could have committed such a horrific crime. The Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef Ibn Abd Al-Aziz, blamed the 9/11 attacks on &ldquo;Zionists,&rdquo; and Crown Prince Abdullah himself refused to acknowledge the existence of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia until more than eighteen months later.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the days following 9/11, when all commercial flights were grounded, the Bush administration allowed 140 Saudis, mostly members of the royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden, to leave the United States without being questioned by the FBI. Although the vast majority of these fortunate Saudis were innocent of any connection to al-Qaeda, there were some who might have provided crucial information about bin Laden&rsquo;s actions and, particularly, about al-Qaeda&rsquo;s funding. Later investigators were especially interested in one person who was allowed to leave: Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who died in his sleep ten months later at the age of forty-two.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In August 2002, 600 family members of 9/11 victims filed a $1 trillion lawsuit against the House of Saud and other Saudis alleging that they had funded terrorism, either directly or by laundering money through questionable wings of legitimate charities. When the US Congress released its report on the 9/11 attacks in July 2003, the Bush administration blocked the release of twenty-eight pages dealing with Saudi Arabia, claiming that their publication would jeopardize ongoing investigations into terrorist funding. They remain classified today.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Crown Prince Abdullah and his family went to great lengths to smooth over relations with the United States. They paid $17.6 million to lobbyists and public relations firms, most notably Qorois Communication and Patton Boggs, to spread the message of Saudi-US friendship in a campaign that included 1,541 television ads in two weeks. In November 2001, the Saudi government awarded a $140 million contract to develop an oil field to Halliburton, the company formerly run by former Vice President Dick Cheney and in which he still held stock options. The Saudi public relations efforts did not sway the American people who, according to polls, overwhelmingly considered Saudi Arabia more of an enemy than an ally. The feeling was mutual. A Zogby International poll showed that 87% of Saudis had an unfavorable opinion of the United States. But if the people of the two countries were mistrustful of each other, their leaders felt just the opposite. President Bush would gush about the &ldquo;eternal friendship&rdquo; between the United States and Saudi Arabia. When Abdullah visited Bush&rsquo;s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2002 and again in 2005, the two made a point of kissing and holding hands in front of the cameras. Reports of their meetings have revealed some awkward moments. For example, during the first visit in 2002, Bush took Abdullah&rsquo;s hands and tried to lead him in a Christian prayer.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A total of 1,189,731 people identified themselves as being of Arab ancestry in the 2000 US census (there is no category for Saudis), although scholars estimate there may be over 3 million ethnic Arabs in America. Traditional fear of governmental abuse of personal information has led many Arabs to conceal their ethnicity. Over a third of the Arab population in America lives in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 38,756 Americans visited Saudi Arabia. The number of Americans traveling to Saudi Arabia has fluctuated between a low of 35,405 (2003), and a high of 48,498 (2005) since 2002.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The number of Saudis visiting the US in 2006 was 31,511. Tourism dropped off from 2002-2003 (from 25,588 to18,727 visitors), and has increased steadily since then.</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div>To say oil dominates trade between the US and Saudi Arabia is almost an understatement. In 2008, American imports from the kingdom totaled $54.7 billion&mdash;of which $54 billion was petroleum related (crude oil $53 billion, fuel oil $63 million, and other petroleum products $756 million). Crude oil imports have increased steadily since 2003, when they totaled $16.8 billion.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, American exports to Saudi Arabia totaled $12.5 billion in 2008. While exports were spread out over an array of goods, the single most valuable export was passenger cars ($3.3 billion). Five years earlier, car sales totaled $640 million. Other leading exports include industrial engines ($1.1 billion), drilling and oilfield equipment ($540 million), electrical equipment ($330 million), generators ($245 million),</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $667.9 million of defense articles and services to Saudi Arabia in 2007. Leading categories of military exports are engines and turbines for military aircraft ($28.8 million), military trucks and armored vehicles ($16 million), tanks, artillery, missiles, rockets, guns and ammunition ($44.1 million), military apparel and footwear ($45.5 million) and parts for military-type goods ($77 million). Among the largest contracts was one for $386 million for 152 GE/Pratt&amp;Whitney jet engines.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to research performed by the Congressional Research Service, Saudi Arabia regained its position in 2007 as the leading purchaser of weapons in the developing world. Saudi Arabia ranked first in the value of arms transfer agreements among all developing nations weapons purchasers, concluding $10.6 billion in such agreements.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US gave $365,000 in aid to Saudi Arabia in 2009, divided between Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, De-mining and Related Programs ($350,000), and International Military Education and Training ($15,000).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c5170.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Saudi Arabia</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c5170.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Saudi Arabia</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64734.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Saudi Arabia: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 568-569)</font></a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/saudi.html"><font color="#0000ff">Country Analysis Brief, U.S. Department of Energy</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/saudi_arabia.htm"><font color="#0000ff">US Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia 1990-2000</font></a> (Federation of American Scientists)</div>
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Controversies
<p><b>Bush Administration Announces $20 Billion Arms Deal for Saudi Arabia</b></p> <div>In July 2007, the Bush administration announced a controversial $20 billion arms sale over the next 10 years to Saudi Arabia and five other American allies in the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). A senior defense official pointed out that the Saudi government unsuccessfully seeks an arms deal nearly every year, and that in 2007, the Bush administration wanted to support the sale to counter what it saw as a rising military threat from Iran.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;The Iranians have been acting for the last six months like nobody can stop them,&rdquo; Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in an interview. &ldquo;Now, the United States and its friends in the Middle East are showing Iran that, in fact they've got lots of resources, which, if need be, they can use to check the Iranian ambitions.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Critics argued that the deal would accelerate a regional arms race in the Middle East and threaten a precarious three-way balance between Israel, Sunni Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, and Shiite nations such as Iraq and Iraq.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Saudi arms package was in the works for months. It initially faced objections by Israel, particularly over the first-ever proposed sale of precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to Saudi Arabia. &ldquo;There is a worry that a precision strike weapon in Saudi hands could, in theory, be used against Israel, either by the Saudi Air Force itself or by another Arab state the Saudis might supply that weapon with,&rdquo; said Michael O&rsquo;Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=3424836&amp;page=1">Possible Saudi Arms Sale Stirs Controversy</a> (by John Hendren, ABC News)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>US Pressured Saudis to Change Textbooks after 9/11</b></div> <div>In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States pressured Saudi Arabia to reform its educational curriculum by eliminating educational material that demonizes Christians and Jews or that urges holy war on &ldquo;the unbelievers.&rdquo; Senior Saudi officials have assured the United States that the reforms were completed, but a new report by the human-rights group Freedom House suggested otherwise.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wahhabism, a strict and rigid interpretation of Islam, permeates life in Saudi Arabia and has long dominated the public school curriculum. When it was learned that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis, the United States demanded changes in the Saudi school system in the belief that the strict Islamist curriculum encouraged a culture of violence. Saudi officials have been trying to convince Washington that the educational curriculum has been reformed. During speaking tour of American cities, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, assured audiences that the kingdom had &ldquo;eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance&rdquo; from its old textbooks.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House studied some of the textbooks currently in use in Saudi public schools, from grades one through 12. Nina Shea, the center&rsquo;s director, said the texts did not comport with what Saudi officials were saying. The textbooks &ldquo;reflect an ideology of hatred against the other, against Christians, Jews, other Muslims, for instance, Shiites and the majority Sunni Muslims and all others who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi doctrine,&rdquo; Shea said.</div> <div>The center&rsquo;s report cited numerous examples. It quoted a fourth-grade text as telling students to &ldquo;love for the sake of God and to hate for the sake of God.&rdquo; The report said that textbooks instruct students that Christians and Jews are &ldquo;apes and pigs&rdquo; and warns students not to &ldquo;greet,&rdquo; &ldquo;befriend&rdquo; or &ldquo;respect&rdquo; non-believers.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5426633">Saudi Textbooks Still Teach Hate, Group Says</a> (by Vicky O'Hara, NPR Radio)</div> <div><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/19/AR2006051901769.html">This is a Saudi Textbook. (After the Intolerance Was Removed.)</a> (by Nina Shea, Washington Post)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Basic Law provides for a system of government and citizen&rsquo;s rights. In the past, Saudi Arabia has been found to be in violation of numerous human rights, including rights of the accused, civil liberties, and women&rsquo;s rights.&nbsp;</p> <div><u>&nbsp;</u></div> <div><b>Civil Liberties</b></div> <div>Saudi Arabian government enforces strict censorship on all types of media, including print journalism, television, books, movies, sermons, and internet, through agencies such as the Ministry of Information and the Supreme Information Council. The government owns all radio and television stations. Internet was banned until 1999, and now, all websites are banned until individually approved. Phone calls are monitored, and camera phones are banned. Public employees are forbidden to communicate with foreign media. Blasphemy is also criminalized. In 2008, Sabri Bogday was sentenced to death for blaspheming against God and the prophet Muhammad in his barbershop.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Recently there has been some easing of restrictions on censorship. In the 2008 Riyadh International Book Fair, several books relating to religious diversity and philosophy were displayed and sold. Also in 2008, the country&rsquo;s first official film contest, in which 33 citizen-produced competed, was opened in Dammam by the minister of culture and information.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There is also no freedom of religion as all religions other than Islam are outlawed. This applies to non-nationals as well. In 2004, Brian O&rsquo;Connor, a Christian citizen of India, was beaten and deported for owning a Bible and other Christian literature. Schools are only allowed to teach Islam, and the teaching of Western philosophy is forbidden.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Saudi citizens and residents also do not have the freedom of assembly. In 2003, hundreds of Saudis staged a public protest at a government-hosted international human rights conference. They were all arrested. About 80 were held for months and others were flogged. And in 2007, five women were arrested for staging a sit-in outside a prison, advocating timely trials for imprisoned relatives. &nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Women&rsquo;s Rights</b></div> <div>The suppression of women is ingrained in Saudi Arabian society. Sexual segregation is strictly enforced. Women are forbidden to appear in public with a man who is not her relative. They also cannot work with or drive with men, and they are not allowed to travel without a male relative&rsquo;s consent. Women must cover their bodies completely and veil their faces in public. The Mutawa&rsquo;een religious police exist partly to enforce these laws. On March 11, 2002 in Mecca, a fire broke out in a girls&rsquo; school. As the girls rushed out the building, the Mutawa&rsquo;een forced them back inside because they were not wearing headscarves and because they were not accompanied by male relatives. When male bystanders tried to enter the school to save the girls, the Mutawa&rsquo;een stopped them because they were not relatives. In the end, fifteen girls died because of the intervention of the religious police.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Domestic violence against women is deeply rooted in tradition, and there is no law banning domestic violence. Ibn Saud, a national hero, was notorious for his physical abuse of slaves, servants, concubines, and wives. The issue finally surfaced publicly in April 2004 when a well-known television presenter, April Rania al-Baz, was beaten by her husband because she answered the telephone. He dumped her unconscious at a hospital, where she was discovered to have thirteen facial fractures. Because she was famous, her husband was imprisoned and she was able to obtain a divorce and retain custody of her two sons. Unfortunately, her case is the exception, and most beaten wives have no choice but to suffer abuse. Under Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Shari&rsquo;a law, a man can divorce his wife simply by saying so, but a woman cannot divorce her husband. In 2007, programs such as the National Family Safety program and the Committee of Social Protection were launched in response to the lack of help for victims of domestic violence.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Social stigma against raped women is strong. Many victims do not report rape for fear that they will be considered unfit for marriage or even punished.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Women are limited in the work place and often relegated to certain sectors of the job market, such as education and health care. In 2008, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first women&rsquo;s university began construction.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Children&rsquo;s Rights</b></div> <div>Child marriage is not outlawed in Saudi Arabia. There are numerous cases documenting the arranged marriage of young girls to young boys or to much older men, without both participants&rsquo; consents. Some cases have been challenged in court. In 2008, a court in Bisha granted the divorce of a 14-year-old girl and a 70-year-old man, but in another case, the judge refused annulment of the marriage between a man in his 50s and an 8-year-old girl, whose father had arranged the marriage in order to settle his debts. Raising the legal age of adulthood from 15 to 18 has been suggested to the king.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There is no law that stipulate at what age a child should be tried as an adult. Sultan Kohail was sentenced by a juvenile court to one year in prison and 200 lashes for a crime he committed when he was 16. In 2008, an appeals court ordered a retrial for the same crime in adult court, and Sultan Kohail faces the death penalty if convicted.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Prison Conditions, Rights of the Accused, and Due Process</b></div> <div>Saudi Arabian law prohibits arbitrary arrest and provides that those arrested be given a trial within six months of their arrest. In reality, however, the law is not really implemented and the accused face many injustices.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Amnesty International, in Saudi Arabia routinely use torture to extract &ldquo;confessions.&rdquo; Prisoners are not allowed to reveal the content of their interrogations to visitors. If a prisoner renounces his &ldquo;confession&rdquo; on trial, he is sent back to prison for further interrogation. One such case in 2004 involved the arrest of twelve nonviolent dissidents for holding a public gathering in favor of establishing a constitutional monarchy. All twelve confessed, but in court three of them, university professors Abdullah al-Hamid and Matrouok al-Falih and poet Ali al-Damaini, renounced their confessions. One of their lawyers was imprisoned without charge after he spoke about the case on television. At the beginning, the trial was public, but then the doors were shut and it was held in secret. The defendants were sentenced to six to nine years in prison. In 2007, at least six cases of torture and custodial death were brought against the religious police, but none of them were found guilty.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Still, according to a 2007 report by Human Rights First Society, and unlicensed domestic human rights group, there has been a decline of torture in prisons. Torture was formally banned, and officers who continued to torture were suspended or dismissed. For example, in April 2007, prison guards at the al Ha'ir Correctional Facility were caught beating prisoners on their palms and the soles of their feet. Prison authorities suspended the prison guards involved for 20 to 30 days.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Flogging is routinely used as punishment for crimes, ranging from alcohol-related offenses to traffic violations. Flogging victims can be suspended with chains and lashed with a flexible metal cable. The record for the most lashes imposed on a prisoner is 4,750, for having sex with his wife&rsquo;s sister. Although it is not known if he survived, his wife&rsquo;s sister got sixty-five lashes as well, even though she was the one who reported the incident. Teenage boys are publicly flogged for talking to a young woman or whistling at one. There have been incidents of floggings being announced through public address systems at shopping malls to give shoppers a chance to watch. In March 2001, a military officer was given twenty lashes for using a mobile phone during a flight. In December 2008, three people were accused of theft; one was sentenced to four years' imprisonment and 400 lashes and the other two were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and 200 lashes.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Punishments more severe than flogging have been documented. A convicted thief can have his right hand cut off, while highway robbers are punished by cross-amputation, the loping off of their right hand and their left foot. Qisas (retaliation) punishment&mdash;literally, an eye for an eye&mdash;is also practiced. In 2000, for example, an Egyptian national was convicted in Medina of throwing acid in the face of another Egyptian and damaging his left eye. The guilty party, Abdel Moti Abdel Rahman Mohammad, was sentenced to forcible removal of his left eye.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In court the court of law, a man&rsquo;s testimony is worth twice as much as a woman&rsquo;s and testimonies by Shia Muslims can be discounted.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Rights of Non-Nationals</b></div> <div>The Saudi royal family has, for decades, imported foreigners to do unpleasant jobs. Yemenis serve as servants and street sweepers; Thai women as nannies; Filipino men as waiters; Korean men as construction workers; and Somalis, Ethiopians, Indians, and Sri Lankans as servants and manual laborers. These foreigners, particularly those women who work inside private homes, are subject to physical abuse and sexual violence. Eighty percent of prison inmates in Saudi Arabia are non-Saudis and about half of those prisoners who are executed are foreign nationals.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100605.htm">U.S. State Department</a></div> <div><a href="http://hrw.org/doc/?t=mideast&amp;c=saudia">Human Rights Watch</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/middle-east-and-north-africa/west-gulf/saudi-arabia">Amnesty International</a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Bert Fish<br /> Appointment: Aug 7, 1939<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1940<br /> Termination of Mission: Left Cairo Feb 28, 1941<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Egypt; resident at Cairo. </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Note: After Fish had withdrawn but before Kirk presented credentials as non-resident minister, the Legation in Jidda was established on May 1, 1942, with James S. Moose, Jr., as Charge d'Affaires ad interim.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Alexander C. Kirk<br /> Appointment: Feb 21, 1941<br /> Presentation of Credentials: May 11, 1942<br /> Termination of Mission: Superseded Jul 18, 1943<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Egypt and to the Government of Greece established in Egypt; resident at Cairo.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James S. Moose, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jun 4, 1943<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 18, 1943<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1944</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William A. Eddy<br /> Appointment: Aug 12, 1944<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1944<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post May 28, 1946</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>J. Rives Childs<br /> Appointment: Apr 27, 1946<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1946<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 21, 1950<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Raymond A. Hare<br /> Appointment: Sep 20, 1950<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 24, 1950<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1953<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>George Wadsworth<br /> Appointment: Oct 21, 1953 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1954<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 1, 1958<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 26, 1954. Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Donald R. Heath<br /> Appointment: Nov 27, 1957 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1958<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 18, 1961<br /> <span>Note: Also commissioned to Yemen, but did not present credentials in that country. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 27, 1958.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Parker T. Hart<br /> Appointment: Apr 6, 1961<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 22, 1961<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, May 29, 1965<br /> <span>Note: Also commissioned to Kuwait and Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Porter<br /> <span>Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Hermann F. Eilts<br /> Appointment: Oct 20, 1965<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1966<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 23, 1970</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Nicholas G. Thacher<br /> Appointment: Sep 8, 1970<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 22, 1970<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 19, 1973</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James E. Akins<br /> Appointment: Sep 20, 1973<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1973<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 10, 1975</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Porter<br /> Appointment: Dec 22, 1975<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 21, 1976<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, May 27, 1977</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John C. West<br /> Appointment: Jun 8, 1977<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1977<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1981</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Robert Gerhard Neumann<br /> Appointment: May 20, 1981<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1981<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 16, 1981</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Richard W. Murphy<br /> Appointment: Aug 19, 1981 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 29, 1981<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1983<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Sep 29, 1981.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Walter Leon Cutler<br /> Appointment: Feb 10, 1984<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Mar 31, 1984<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 22, 1987</div> <div>Note: On Sep 26, 1984, the U.S. Liaison Office in Riyadh was raised to the rank of Embassy while the Embassy in Jidda (now Jeddah) became a Consulate General.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Hume Alexander Horan<br /> Appointment: Jul 2, 1987<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 22, 1987<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 22, 1988</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Walter Leon Cutler<br /> Appointment: Jul 15, 1988<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 1988<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 30, 1989</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Chas. W. Freeman, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jun 15, 1989<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1990<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 13, 1992</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Frank Bookout, Jr.<br /> <span>Note: Nomination of Jun 3, 1992 was not acted on by the Senate. </span></div> <div>Note: C. David Welch served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim Aug 1992-Aug 1994.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jul 5, 1994<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 1, 1994<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 25, 1996</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wyche Fowler, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Aug 9, 1996<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1996<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 31, 1997.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Robert W. Jordan<br /> Appointment: Oct 5, 2001<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 2002<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 13, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James C. Oberwetter<br /> Appointment: Dec 11, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 10, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 31, 2007</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/11214.htm">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia</a></div>
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Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Al-Jubeir, Adel

Adel A. Al-Jubeir was appointed as ambassador to the United States on January 29, 2007. Born on February 1, 1962 in Majma'ah (Riyadh Province), Saudi Arabia, Al-Jubeir attended schools in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Yemen, Lebanon, and the US. He obtained a BA summa cum laude in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982, and an MA in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984.


In 1987 Al-Jubeir was appointed into the Saudi Diplomatic Service and posted to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, where he served as special assistant to the ambassador. In 1990-91, he was part of the Saudi team that established the Joint Information Bureau at Dhahran during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
 
He was a member of the GCC delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991, and a member of the Saudi delegation to the Multilateral Arms Control Talks in Washington, DC in 1992. In December 1992, he was dispatched with the Saudi Armed Forces to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. Al-Jubeir was a visiting diplomatic fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York from 1994-95.

Al-Jubeir was appointed director of the Saudi Information and Congressional Affairs Office in Washington in 2000, and was named foreign affairs advisor in the Crown Prince’s Court in the fall of 2000. In August 2005, Al-Jubeir was appointed to the position of advisor at the Royal Court.
 
He is fluent in Arabic, English, and German.
 
Wild Days Behind Him, Envoy Keeps Low Profile (by Helene Cooper, New York Times)

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Saudi Arabia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.saudiembassy.net/">Saudi Arabia's Embassy in the U.S.</a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Smith, James B.
ambassador-image

James B. Smith reportedly donated $3,300 to President Barack Obama’s election, but that’s not what got him the ambassadorship to Saudi Arabia. What put the former Air Force general in Obama’s good graces was his decision in 2008 to endorse Obama at a time when the upstart Democrat was still trying to prove his national security credentials against his challenger, Hillary Clinton.

 
Unlike some of Obama’s other ambassadorial choices who had little or no prior experience in the country they’ve been assigned (such as Donald Gips to South Africa or John Roos to Japan), Smith at least has spent time in Saudi Arabia, back when he was a fighter pilot flying missions during Desert Storm. As a longtime Air Force officer, and most recently an executive for defense contractor Raytheon, Smith is also well versed in American military hardware, the most important U.S. export to Saudi Arabia.
 
A resident of Salem, New Hampshire, Smith graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s in military history in 1974, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He then attended Indiana University, where he received a master’s degree in history in 1975.
 
From February 1975 to February 1976, Smith was stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia and Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas for student pilot training. He remained at Laughlin until September 1979, serving as a T-38 instructor pilot. During this time he was promoted to first lieutenant and then captain.

For six months starting in October 1979, Smith received training on how to fly what was then the Air Force’s new tactical fighter, the F-15 Eagle. Upon completing his training, he was assigned to the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Camp New Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

From March 1982 to June 1984, Smith served as a training division staff officer, and later as executive officer serving under the deputy chief of staff for operations at the USAF headquarters in Europe, located at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany. He was promoted to the rank of major at this time.
 
Smith returned to the United States in June 1984 to serve as assistant operations officer for the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. In December 1985, he was made chief of the Standardization and Evaluation Division for the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman.

His rise through the ranks continued in May 1987, making lieutenant colonel, and the following month, he was sent to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to serve as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff for operations for Headquarters Tactical Air Command. Five months later Smith became the operations officer for the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, and in August 1989 he received his first command, taking over Langley’s 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Smith was made assistant deputy commander for operations of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley, and then was given the same post for the 4404th Provisional Wing stationed at Dhahran Air Base in Saudi Arabia. He flew several combat sorties during Desert Storm, giving him more than 4,000 flying hours for his career including his time in F-15s and T-38s.
 
After returning home from the war, Smith was sent to study at the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C., during which time he was promoted to colonel. After finishing his studies, he became the Air Force Chief of Staff chair at the National War College, before assuming command of the 325th Operations Group at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in July 1994.

Two years later he was promoted to vice director for operations at Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
 
In July 1998, Smith was deployed to Japan to become commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base. He was promoted to brigadier general on Oct 1, 1998, and returned to the U.S. in August 2000 to serve as deputy commander of the Joint Warfighting Center at the Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center in Suffolk, Virginia, where he was responsible for managing the joint force exercise and training development program. This would prove to be Smith’s last Air Force assignment, as he retired from the service in October 2002.
 
Like many high-ranking former military and Pentagon personnel, Smith joined the private sector after his retirement. He first went to work for Lockheed Martin as the company’s director of the Navy C2 programs, before moving to Raytheon. His positions at the defense contractor were vice president of precision engagement in Tucson, Arizona, followed by vice president of government business in Wichita, Kansas. He was serving as International Business Development Executive for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems when Obama appointed him to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to which Raytheon has been providing weapons and services since 1966.
 
In January 2008, Smith joined a long list of “national security experts” who endorsed Obama for president. The former Air Force officer made a higher profile endorsement of Obama in March, joining nine other high ranking military officers who came out in support of the Democrat as he strove to convince voters that Clinton was not the superior choice on issues of defense and national security.
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Fraker, Ford
ambassador-image

Ford M. Fraker was sworn in on April 11, 2007 as US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and served until April 2009. Born in Princeton, NJ, Fraker graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

 
A banker in the Middle East for more than 30 years, Fraker began his career with Chemical Bank where he worked from 1972 to 1979. He worked in Lebanon, the UAE, and Bahrain, ending as a vice president and regional manager for the bank’s Bahrain office. He joined the Saudi International Bank in 1979 and worked for SIB until 1991, holding positions of increasing management responsibility in the bank’s general banking, credit and client development units. When he left SIB in 1991, Fraker was serving on the bank’s management committee.

Fraker founded Fraker & Co. in 1991, and in 1993, he joined MeesPierson Investment Finance (UK) Limited, where he was the managing director responsible for placing US and European investment products with European and Middle Eastern institutional and private investors. In 1997, he co-founded Trinity Group Limited, a private investment banking firm in the United Kingdom, serving as managing director and chairman until his nomination by President Bush. He was also serving as a consultant for Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation in Boston, MA, at that time.
 
After leaving his post as ambassador, Fraker joined the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) as a senior advisor.

Fraker speaks French and Arabic.
 

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News
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Overview
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div>Occupying two-thirds of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia is a mostly desolate land with no rivers, no lakes, and no perennial streams. Its population stands at roughly 28.7 million, about one-fifth of whom are non-citizen foreign workers and other non-nationals. It is illegal for a Saudi citizen to follow a religion other than Islam. Eight-five percent of Saudi citizens are Sunnis and 7.4% are Shiites.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Contained within the borders of Saudi Arabia are two important elements that have transformed the country into a major player in the world scene. In the western region of Hijaz are the two holiest cities in the Islamic world: Mecca, the site of the Grand Mosque and Mount Arafat, where Mohammad preached his last sermon, and Medina, site of The Prophet&rsquo;s tomb and shrines to Islamic heroes. One of the duties of the world&rsquo;s 1.5 billion Muslims is to try to visit Mecca at least once in a lifetime. About two million Muslims make this pilgrimage (hajj) every year. In Hasa, in the east of the country, in the region occupied by the Shi&rsquo;a minority, is the nation&rsquo;s other great asset: oil. Saudi Arabia contains 20% of the world&rsquo;s oil reserves and accounts for 12.6 of the world&rsquo;s production. The Ghawar field, which provides half of the nation&rsquo;s output, is the largest oil field in the world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This nation of spiritual and material riches is ruled by the Saud family, a king and several thousand princes whose ruling style is a fusion of medieval feudalism and the Mafia. They follow a rigid, uncompromising version of Islam known to the West as Wahhabism. Although this sect of Islam rejects virtually everything Western culture stands for, the Saudi government has maintained a very close relationship with the United States. The Saudis have purchased tens of billions in military hardware and weaponry from the US, and it gladly accepted American and other foreign troops on Saudi soil in 1990 to protect the kingdom after Iraq invaded Kuwait, thus launching the First Gulf War.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia became strained after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, once it became known that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. Another interesting twist came immediately after the attacks. While all while commercial flights were grounded across the US, the US government secretly allowed 140 Saudis, mostly members of the royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden, to fly out of the United States without being questioned by the FBI,. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration officials pressured the Saudis to change their school curriculum to remove anti-Jewish and Christian messages found in Saudi textbooks&mdash;a change that has not come about for the most part. Despite these problems, the Bush White House had no trouble advocating for a $20 billion arms package to Saudi Arabia, claiming the weapons and hardware were needed so Saudi Arabia could buttress the growing threat of Iran in the region.</div>
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Basic Information
<p><b>Lay of the Land</b>: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in southwest Asia comprises most of the Arabian Peninsula. The south and southeast are occupied by the great Rub al Khali (&ldquo;Empty Quarter&rdquo;) Desert, through which run the largely undefined boundaries with South Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. A central plateau, the Nejd, rises from 2,000 feet in the east to 5,000 feet in the west and includes the capital, Riyadh. The Hejaz, site of Colonel T.E. Lawrence&rsquo;s famed exploits during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during World War I, stretches along the Red Sea coast and includes the holy cites of Mecca and Medina and the port of Jidda, commercial center of the kingdom. The Asir, extending south to the Yemeni border, has a fertile coastal plain and mountains rising to more than 9,000 feet.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Population</b>: 28.7 million</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Sunni Muslim 82.9%, Shi'a Muslim 7.4%, Christian 4.5%, Sulaimani Ismaili Shi'a Muslim 2.6%, Hindu 1.1%, Buddhist 0.3%, Sikh 0.2%, Ethnoreligious 0.2%, Chinese Universalist 0.1%, non-religious 0.6%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Arabic (official), Gulf Arabic (0.8%), Najdi Arabic 31.0%, Hijazi Arabic 23.3%.</div>
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History
<p><b>Muhammad and the Birth of Islam</b></p> <div>The history of Saudi Arabia is inevitably tied to the history of Islam. Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, the founder of Islam, was born in about 570 AD in Mecca, which at the time was a commercial center that contained the Kaaba, a temple that was the destination of a pre-Islamic annual pilgrimage. In his youth, Muhammad traveled extensively with his merchant uncle and was exposed to the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity. When he was forty years old, Muhammad was meditating in a cave when he had a vision of the Angel Gabriel, who taught him various verses that were later transcribed and became the Quran.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Muhammad gradually developed followers and, by 622, the Muslim community was large enough to be considered a threat to the local authorities. So Muhammad and his followers fled to the nearby oasis of Yathrib, which they renamed Medina. Cut off from their own tribes and without land of their own, Muhammad and his followers began raiding caravans on their way to Mecca. In 623, fighting broke out between the Meccans and the Muslims, but by 630 Muhammad&rsquo;s forces were so strong that they were able to conquer Mecca without a fight. They destroyed the town&rsquo;s idols, but kept the black stone of the Kaaba and transformed the annual pilgrimage into a Muslim one. Muhammad died in 632, having spread his faith over all of the Arabian Peninsula. His followers then carried Islam around the world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Muslim leaders who succeeded Muhammad were known (in English) as caliphs. The fourth caliph, Ali, moved his capital from Medina to Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula reverted to tribalism. The Ottoman Turks took power in Arabia in the 16th century, and it was also during this period that the Saudi extended family settled in the area.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Saud and Wahhab</b></div> <div>The histories of the Saud and other families also play an important role in the history of Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Muhammad bin Saud was just another tribal leader in the central Arabian region of Nejd when, in 1744, he provided shelter for a local preacher and judge named Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab. Under the rule of the Ottomans, Islam, having already split into factions, lost its fervor. Wahhab&rsquo;s message was that Islam needed to be cleansed. Although they are known to much of the world today as Wahhabis, the followers of Wahhab called themselves Unitarians (muwahaddun). Wahhab believed that there should be no distinction between religion and the state; all conduct, including government, should be based on the original, unadulterated rules set down in the Quran and interpreted by the first three generations after Muhammad. &nbsp;He taught that all Muslims were equal, regardless of their class, nationality, or ethnic or tribal origin. Nonbelievers, on the other hand, were subject to punishment. His punishment for adultery exemplified his view of women: the man was reprieved, but the woman was stoned to death.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wahhab&rsquo;s teachings were not particularly popular, but they did attract Saud, and together they formed a powerful combination of military power and religious proselytizing. To this day, the descendents of Muhammad bin Saud control the government of Saudi Arabia and the descendents of Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab control its religious affairs. It is this same combination of sword and God that has allowed the Saud family to establish kingdoms in Arabia three times.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the 18th century, Saudi forces captured Mecca and Medina and, eventually, almost one million square miles. While the Ottoman Turks were busy dealing with the Napoleonic Wars, the Wahhabis destroyed all traces of the Turks, including shrines and mosques they had built. In 1811, the Viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, launched the Ottoman counterattack. In 1818, his son, Ibrahim Pasha, conquered Mecca and then continued another 500 miles to Nejd, the center of Wahhabism. His troops also destroyed the Saudi capital of Diriya. Ibrahim Pasha was not a compassionate conqueror. His troops took all the food they could find, and they sent the Saudi ruler to Constantinople (Istanbul) where he was beheaded.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Battling for Power</b></div> <div>The grandson of Muhammad bin Saud, Turki, and his son Faisal established a new Saudi capital at Riyadh in the first part of the 19th century and set about re-conquering the lands they had lost and reconverting the populace to Wahhabism. Their efforts received a setback in 1871 when the Turks occupied the eastern Arabian province of Hasa and gave their support to a rival family, the Rashidis. The loss of Hasa was a heavy blow to the Saud family because it was the source of the dates and pearls that they used to bribe the tribes of central Arabia. The Rashidis gained control of all of the Saudi domains, and the Saud family were reduced to figurehead leaders with no power. In January 1891, the Saudis, led by Abdul Rahman, abandoned Riyadh and went into exile. After two years on the road, they sheltered in Qatar and then settled in Kuwait, from which they began to launch raids against the Rashidis. When Muhammad bin Rashid died in 1897, clan infighting broke out, opening a window of opportunity for the Saudis.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1902, the Saud family recaptured Riyadh, but this part of history has been raised to such a mythic level in Saudi Arabia that it is difficult to sort out the facts from the legend. It appears that in late September of 1901, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, the son of Abdul Rahman, left Kuwait with a fighting force of forty men. Their numbers grew to about 200, but many drifted away as it became clear that the opportunities for plunder were slim. Armed with daggers, swords, pistols, rifles, and short-shafted spears, there were fifty or sixty warriors left when they reached the outskirts of Riyadh in January 1902. Scaling the walls of the Masmak battlements in the middle of the night, they waited until morning. When the governor, Rashid Ibn Ajlan, emerged from prayers, Abdul Aziz and his men launched their attack. A melee ensued and Abdul Aziz&rsquo;s cousin killed Ajlan. Abdul Aziz appeared on top of the battlements holding Ajlan&rsquo;s head and then threw it down to the anxious crowd below. When the Saud family returned to Riyadh, Abdul Aziz tried to hand over control of the city to his father, but Abdul Rahman, following tribal tradition, handed authority back to his son because he was deemed more fit for the job. Only twenty-one years old, Abdul Aziz, who came to be known internationally as Ibn Saud, was the leader of a family that had twice controlled most of Arabia.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the 20th century, the political dynamics of the Middle East became intertwined with the larger struggles of great powers, such as Britain and Turkey. While in Kuwait, Ibn Saud had been impressed by the way the nation&rsquo;s leader, Sheikh Mubarak, had escaped Turkish control by cultivating the British, and he tried to do the same. However, whereas Kuwait had a harbor, Riyadh had nothing that the British wanted. In fact, the Western powers had so little interest in the region that their cartographers did not even know the latitude and longitude of Riyadh. Left to his own devices, Ibn Saud and his warriors managed to fight off a counterattack by the Rashidis, but their resources were so depleted by their effort that in February 1905, Ibn Saud, in exchange for control of Nejd, had to accept the official role of district commissioner for the Ottoman Turks. The Saudis needed another four or five years to completely eliminate the Rashidi threat.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Saudis also faced another regional challenger, the Hashemites, who would later rule modern Syria and Iraq and still rule Jordan. The House of Hashim had ruled Mecca since 1073. In December 1908, the Turks appointed Sharif Hussein, the leader of the Hashemites, the emir, or governor, of Hijaz. In 1910, Sharif Hussein captured Ibn Saud&rsquo;s brother and kept him hostage until the Saudis paid a ransom. At this point the British decided to foment an Arab revolt against the Turks and looked for a leader among the Arabs. Given the choice between Ibn Saud and Sharif Hussein, the British chose Hussein because one, he had lived in Turkey and was familiar with modern politics; two, he was a descendant of Muhammad; and three, because his home base Hijaz was more important than Ibn Saud&rsquo;s home base of Nejd. In addition, Wahhabism was not popular outside of Nejd.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1913, Saudi forces invaded Hasa on the Persian Gulf. Enlisting the aid of the local Bedouin, an Arab ethnic group, they defeated the Turks. This victory gave the Saudis date palms and access to the sea. It also earned them vast stretches of sand under which, unbeknownst to them at the time, was something that would prove far more valuable: oil.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Soon the Turks and the British were engaged in a chess match, searching for the right Arab allies to serve as surrogate armies in their larger struggle. For their part, Ibn Saud and Sharif Hussein sought protection from these stronger powers in their local battle against each other. In the spring of 1914, Ibn Saud accepted the Turkish title of wali (governor). Two years later, when British troops captured Basra in Iraq, they discovered a secret treaty in which the Saudis had promised the Turks not to grant concessions to the British. On December 26, 1915, however, Ibn Saud signed a ten-year treaty with the British in which he would be recognized as the ruler of Nejd and its dependencies under British protection. In exchange, he agreed to not attack any neighboring sheikhs. In fact, this was what he had asked of the British back in 1902.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In June 1916, Sharif Hussein also made a deal with the British, who gave him arms to fight the Turks. Sharif Hussein also convinced the nobles of Mecca to proclaim him &ldquo;King of the Arabs,&rdquo; a presumption that did not sit well with the vast majority of Arabs. Finally, the Ottoman Turks lost control of the Arabian Peninsula forever.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After World War I, however, it became clear that Britain and other great powers had little interest in honoring their promises to the Arabs. In November 1917, the Bolsheviks in Russia, published the Sykes-Picot Agreement which revealed that Great Britain and France had promised independence to the Arabs only to create an Arab revolt against the Turks, and that they had no intention of allowing the Arabs to keep control of any land beyond the peninsula. In addition, a letter from Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lord Rothschild, the president of the British Zionist Federation, gave approval for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British hoped that the Jews would help protect the Suez Canal. Many British leaders also wanted to rid Europe of the Jews, whom they viewed as dangerously revolutionary. This incident taught Ibn Saud that he had be more careful in his dealings with the British.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When the Saudis defeated the Hashemites at the Battle of Turabah in May 1919, the British switched their main Arab allegiance to Ibn Saud. Two months later they invited Ibn Saud to visit Great Britain. The Saudi leader declined the invitation, but instead sent his fourteen-year-old son, Faisal, who thus became the first member of the House of Saud to visit Europe.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>The Ikhwan</b></div> <div>Ibn Saud made an alliance with the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) in 1921. The Ikhwan were desert evangelicals who took the Quran as the literal Word of God and wanted to revive the severe restrictions of Wahhabism. They punished Muslims who did not attend mosque services and they threatened Christians. They opposed anything that smacked of affectation, including silk, gold, long mustaches, and trimmed beards. They also opposed anything that did not exist during the time of Muhammad 1,300 years earlier, including tobacco, telephones, and telegraphs. They did allow one exception: rifles. Once Ibn Saud and the Ikhwan were aligned, they defeated the remaining forces of the House of Rashid, one of whose leaders, Saud, died in battle, leaving behind three widows. Ibn Saud gave one Rashidi widow to his brother, one to his own son, Saud, and kept the third one, Fahda bint Asi Al Shuraim, for himself. In 1924, Fahda gave birth to Abdullah, the current king of Saudi Arabia.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>As a result of the Uqair Conference in November 1922, Ibn Saud gained a disputed strip of land claimed by Kuwait, but lost other land to Iraq. With British support, the Hashemites created Transjordan (present-day Jordan) to the north and assumed the throne of Iraq, which meant that Ibn Saud was practically surrounded by Hashemites. Sharif Hussein, desperate for money, doubled the price of entrance for pilgrims to Mecca. In late 1924 he banned the Ikhwan from participating in the hajj. The Ikhwan responded by attacking Mecca and overthrowing Hussein. His forces surrendered Medina the following year and, thanks to the military prowess of the Ikhwan, Ibn Saud was declared King of Hejaz.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>But Ibn Saud still had to deal with the Ikhwan, who were also supported by the Bedouin nomads. In 1927, he held a conference with 3,000 Ikhwan, who voiced their complaints to him: they did not approve of the introduction of telegraph lines; they did approve of young Faisal&rsquo;s visit to England; they wanted him to punish the Shiites for their interpretation of Islam; and they wanted the Muslim &ldquo;infidels&rdquo; from Iraq and Transjordan to stop using Saudi grazing land. As sympathetic as Ibn Saud was to many of the positions of the Ikhwan, he recognized that they were a threat to his personal power. As he formed a new government, he drastically centralized authority and he filled almost all of the most important government posts with members of his own family. The Ikhwan revolted, but, with the help of the British, who now looked to Ibn Saud as their man in the region, he defeated them. Over the next four years, Ibn Saud&rsquo;s forces put down a series of revolts and successfully consolidated his rule.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ibn Saud granted his first oil drilling concession in 1923 to a New Zealander named Major Frank Holmes. Nothing came of the deal. Then Standard Oil of California obtained the exploration rights to 360,000 square miles in Saudi Arabia. It finally struck oil in Hasa on March 20, 1938. Exploitation of the find was delayed by World War II.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>The Kingdom Established</b></div> <div>On September 18, 1932, Ibn Saud, at the age of fifty-two, declared himself the King of Saudi Arabia. Actually, the concept of a king had never been accepted in central Arabia, where tribal tradition supported less centralized leadership, but Ibn Saud was inspired by European royalty and so a king he would be. He ran his new country like the Mafia. Cousins by marriage became lieutenants, half-brothers were given areas to rule, and non-Saudis, if they proved their loyalty, were treated like adjuncts to the family.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Pursuing Wahhabist doctrine, Ibn Saud took the position that there should not be a division between religion and the state. He claimed that his absolute authority was sanctioned by Allah and that disobedience to him was heresy. He used the ulema (religious leaders) to issue fatwas (written judgments) to justify his policies. He tried to expand his kingdom by invading Yemen, but the Yemenis successfully resisted and Ibn Saud had to settle for a peace treaty.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Internationally, he flirted with the Soviets, who loaned him oil, and with the Nazis, who gave him German-made rifles and built him an arms factory in Riyadh. Basically though, Ibn Saud leaned toward Great Britain through most of World War II. On February 14, 1945, after the Yalta Conference, Ibn Saud met for the first time with a non-Muslim leader: the president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who died two months later, agreed to help the Jewish people only in ways that were not hostile to the Arabs. Ibn Saud also met with Winston Churchill, who irritated him by smoking. By the end of the war, Saudi Arabia had turned away from Great Britain and embraced the United States. Ibn Saud also managed to declare war on Germany in time to be invited to join the United Nations.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After the end of WWII, the Saudis renegotiated their oil contracts. Although they lost quite a bit of money to American accounting practices, what was left made Ibn Saud an extremely wealthy man.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite the severe restrictions of Wahhabism, he managed to father more than sixty children, and a common joke was that the only way that Ibn Saud united the Arab people was in bed.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Two: Saud</b></div> <div>As early as 1933, Ibn Saud designated his eldest surviving son, Saud ibn Abdul Aziz, crown prince, meaning that he was the successor to the throne. Ibn Saud also groomed his second-eldest son, Faisal, as a successor. By 1950 the founder&rsquo;s health was deteriorating, and he handed over authority to Crown Prince Saud. Saud and Faisal were very different, and the tension between them would color the politics of Saudi Arabia for the next 14 years. Faisal was well-educated, well-traveled, and sophisticated, while Saud was a man of the desert who spoke no foreign languages and who preferred remaining in the Saudi home base of Nejd. Saud strengthened various religious prohibitions and expanded the reach of the religious enforcers, the Society for the Encouragement of Good and the Prevention of Evil. His strict Wahhabist beliefs made him unpopular in Hejaz. Faisal, on the other hand, gained popularity by legalizing football (soccer) in 1951, which had previously been banned because men exposed their thighs in public and because the ulema considered football a cover for subversive activity. Ibn Saud died at one of Faisal&rsquo;s palaces on November 9, 1953. The fifty-one-year-old Saud ibn Abdul Aziz became Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s second king and Faisal moved up to crown prince.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was unusually popular in the Arab world because he had overthrown the Egyptian monarachy and he promoted Arab rejection of foreign powers. When Nasser visited Saudi Arabia in 1956 to ask for oil, he was greeted by the largest demonstration in the nation&rsquo;s history. Saud ibn Abdul Aziz felt threatened by Nasser&rsquo;s antimonarchist policies. In July of that year, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and he did so without consulting Saud. As angry as that made Saud, it was nothing compared to his reaction when Great Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt in October. Saud broke relations with the British and the French and halted oil shipments to both countries. It was Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first oil embargo, but it would not be the last. Saudi oil revenue fell by 40%, but there was a silver lining in the uproar: US President Dwight Eisenhower, immersed in a Cold War anti-Communist crusade, decided to make Saud his representative in the Arab world.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Three: Faisal</b></div> <div>King Saud earned a reputation for overspending and alcoholism. In 1958, the nine leading brothers in the Saudi royal family, increasingly concerned about this, asked Crown Prince Faisal to return from the United States, where he was recovering from surgery. Faisal cracked down on corruption, using tactics such as giving each family member a personal allowance and banning the import of private automobiles. By 1962, he had cleared the national debt. Saud tried to return to power in December 1960, forming an unlikely alliance with a group of liberal half-brothers led by Finance Minister Prince Talal. Talal ventured the radical proposal that Saudi Arabia should have a constitution. However, the ulema declared that the nation already had a constitution: Islamic Shari&rsquo;a law. Saud dismissed Talal and revoked his passport.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, the Saudi conflict with Nasser was continuing to fester. Nasser and Saud traded assassination attempts (both officially denied). In 1958, Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic, but three years later Saud managed to convince the Syrians to withdraw from the union by slipping $12 million to the Syrian royal family. Nasser&rsquo;s popularity was growing throughout the Arab world, but then he made a fatal mistake. On September 26, 1962, revolutionaries overthrew the royal family of Yemen. The House of Saud was naturally alarmed to see a royal family right across its border lose all their power, particularly when the Egyptian army arrived in Yemen to help the new government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Furthermore, the new US president, John F. Kennedy, did not buy the argument that the Saudi royal family was a legitimate bastion against Communism. But he did agree to give the Saudis military exercises if they would initiate reforms. So in November 1962, Faisal announced a ten-point reform program that included the abolition of slavery. At the time there were about 30,000 slaves in Saudi Arabia; the government bought 4,000 of them.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Faisal shared responsibilities with three of his younger brothers. He put future King Fahd in charge of reforms; he put future King Abdullah in command of the mostly tribal National Guard, which was responsible for domestic security and political repression; and he gave command of the Yemeni war against Egypt to future crown prince Sultan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the spring of 1963, the republican revolutionaries in Yemen announced their intention to reclaim the province of Asir, which the Saudis had taken in 1920. The Egyptian military, using Soviet arms, bombed three southern towns in Saudi Arabia, killing many people including 36 patients in a hospital. President Kennedy sent fighter jets over Saudi cities to draw the line on Nasser&rsquo;s aggression.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In December 1963, Saud again demanded that he be given power and he retired to his palace along with 1,500 troops. Three months later, 70 princes of the House of Saud met in what they called a Council of Those Who Bind and Loose. King Saud told the princes, &ldquo;I am not Queen Elizabeth. Arabian kings are kings or nothing.&rdquo; The princes agreed. The ulema declared Saud unfit to rule and the princes gave the kingdom to Faisal.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Faisal was proclaimed king on November 2, 1964, and his brother Khalid was promoted to crown prince. By this time, Nasser was increasingly preoccupied with his conflict with Israel, and the war in Yemen was draining the Egyptian coffers. In June 1967, Israel crushed the Egyptian-led Arab forces in the Six-Day War and doubled its size by conquering land that belonged to Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Nasser could not continue the war in Yemen. He met with King Faisal and agreed to withdraw Egyptian troops from the country. After five years, Faisal had emerged victorious over Nasser.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Six-Day War destroyed Arab illusions about their power. But for Saudi Arabia it had a positive aspect because it left the Saudis as the strongest Arab nation. It also increased Faisal&rsquo;s hatred of Israel, which now controlled Jerusalem, Islam&rsquo;s third-holiest city behind Mecca and Medina.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Domestically, Faisal put an end to the period of reform in 1965. He initiated a witch hunt, ordering the arrest of anyone who was even remotely pro-Nasser. He put the Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s most respected religious leader, in charge of the nation&rsquo;s education. He ordered all government officials to join in group prayers. Sex segregation was formally imposed at the age of nine, at which time a girl also had to start wearing a veil. He forbade the installation of direct-dial telephones because men and women might talk together in a lewd manner. Instead, all calls had to go through operators. Faisal also forbade the use of Cadillacs because they were associated with ex-King Saud. He did allow the introduction of television, although it was heavily censored. Even scenes of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse kissing were excised. After the Grand Mufti died, Faisal created a Ministry of Justice to take control of the religious courts, and he took the responsibility of interpreting Shari&rsquo;a law from the new Grand Mufti. He also co-opted the ulema by creating a 17-member Council of Senior Ulema that was answerable to his rule.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1969, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s only Arab allies were other monarchies. But Faisal smoothed relations with more countries, including Egypt after the death of Nasser in 1970. By 1971, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s only Arab enemies were Yemen and Iraq. Still, the Saudis were nervous. When Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya and the Ba&rsquo;athist regime in Iraq nationalized the operations of British Petroleum in January 1972, King Faisal offered the United States unlimited oil in exchange for military protection.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On October 6, 1973, during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Egypt and Syria&mdash;seeking to recapture the land they lost in 1967&mdash;attacked Israel. The US president, Richard Nixon, ignoring pleas from the oil industry, gave $2.2 billion in emergency aid to Israel. Back in 1960, Saudi Arabia, along with Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela, had created the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose members represented 80% of the world&rsquo;s oil production. The day after Nixon&rsquo;s 1973 announcement of support for Israel, OPEC declared that, for the first time, the producers would set the price of oil, and they immediately cut production by 10% and threatened to cut 5% more each month until the Israeli-Palestinian problem was settled. King Faisal announced that a holy war had begun. He stopped all oil shipments to the United States and he vowed to continue the embargo until he could &ldquo;pray in Jerusalem under an Arab flag.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Unfortunately for Faisal, Saudi Arabia provided only 4% of the American oil supply and Iran, Iraq, and Libya were happy to keep pumping and make up the deficit. Only 16 days after the beginning of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the United States and the USSR helped negotiate a ceasefire. Faisal&rsquo;s vow to punish the West until the Arabs controlled Jerusalem fell flat. However, as in 1968, a war against Israel turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Saudi royal family. The world needed more and more oil. Faisal ended the embargo on March 19, 1974, after President Nixon agreed to sell to Saudi Arabia sophisticated fighter aircraft, tanks, and naval vessels. As soon as the embargo was lifted, Saudi wealth mushroomed. Between 1973 and 1974, the price of oil more than tripled, from $2.70 a barrel to $9.80 and oil exports skyrocketed from $5.9 billion in 1973 to $32.5 billion in 1974. The Saudis had no problems spending their jackpot. Car imports tripled in a year and real estate prices rose dramatically.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On March 26, 1975, King Faisal was shot to death by one of his nephews, 26-year-old Faisal ibn Musaid. Saudi security forces interrogated the younger Faisal and three months later beheaded him. The interrogators could not find any motive for Faisal&rsquo;s act, and the official Saudi line was that he was crazy and on drugs. In fact, it was not difficult to surmise a motive. Ten years earlier, Faisal&rsquo;s older brother had taken part in a violent protest against a television station in Riyadh. King Faisal ordered an assault against the protesters and Faisal&rsquo;s brother was killed. Faisal had studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and had been exposed to the radical politics of the time. His uncle was not only a well-known tyrant, but the king had killed his own brother.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Four: Khalid</b></div> <div>Khalid ibn Abdul Aziz was 63 years old when he assumed the throne of Saudi Arabia. Khalid was not an ambitious man and was satisfied with a ceremonial role. The new crown prince, his younger brother Fahd, took charge of the nation&rsquo;s most important decisions. Still, Khalid&rsquo;s reign coincided with a tumultuous time in the region&rsquo;s history. In February 1979, the pro-Western Shah of Iran was overthrown and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic Republic run by Shiites. This inspired the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia, and the government used force to put down violent rioting.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On November 20, 1979, about 700 armed members of a messianic Wahhabi group seized control of the Grand Mosque, one of the holy sites in Mecca. Their leader, Juhaiman al-Utaibi, demanded the overthrow of the Saud family, the expulsion of all foreigners, and an accounting for the nation&rsquo;s wealth that the royal family had wasted. It took Saudi troops, with support from Great Britain, France, and Jordan, two weeks to flush out the rebels. By then, almost 300 people had been killed, including 25 pilgrims and 20 hostages. Of the 143 rebels who were taken prisoner, 63 were publicly beheaded.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Three weeks later, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. The Saudi regime was shaken by these threats from both inside and outside the country. But President Jimmy Carter pledged to protect the Saudi royals and their oil fields. &ldquo;Any assault on the Gulf,&rdquo; he declared, &ldquo;will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Five: Fahd</b></div> <div>When Khalid died in 1982, Fahd moved up to king and Abdullah, the longtime commander of the National Guard, ascended to crown prince. Back in the 1950s, Fahd had served as Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first minister of education and later, as King Faisal&rsquo;s interior minister for 13 years. Like his father, Ibn Saud, and his older brother Saud, Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz enjoyed the good life. He loved food, women, gambling, and luxury. When he visited Monte Carlo and France, paparazzi caught him in front of casinos and brothels. As late as 2003, when he was eighty years old, he brought with him on a vacation in Marbella, Spain, 350 attendants, fifty black Mercedes, and a 234-foot yacht. Fahd&rsquo;s regime saw a rise in corruption, with kickbacks reportedly going as high as 30% in the armaments and construction industries. Fahd did put some of the nation&rsquo;s oil profits to good use, providing new highways, free water, and a free modern hospital system.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The early years of Fahd&rsquo;s reign marked the beginning of deficit spending, as 25% of the gross national product was spent on defense, and Saudi Arabia became the world&rsquo;s leading importer of advanced weapons. There was also a marked growth in foreign labor, even while Saudi unemployment remained high. Fahd allowed women to take jobs in all-female beauty salons, schools, banks, and services, but this led to an increased presence of the religious police on the lookout for forbidden interaction between the sexes.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1986, Fahd gave himself the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, but it was this role that brought him into conflict with the supporters of Iran&rsquo;s Islamic Revolution. Iranian-inspired rioting left 400 dead during the 1987 hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Fahd approved the reduction of Iran&rsquo;s pilgrim quota from 150,000 to 40,000, whereupon Iran boycotted the hajj.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Fahd also used his nation&rsquo;s oil largesse to fund foreign wars, but two of these projects would come back to haunt him. He had given major support to the mujahedin fighting the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan, and he had encouraged and paid young Saudi men to go there and fight. When the Soviet troops finally left Afghanistan in 1989, the Saudi mujahedin returned home to an economy that was short on jobs. But now they were militant Islamists, and they were well-trained military fighters. In the years to come, these returning mujahedin, and younger men to whom they would pass on their ideology, would become a dangerous threat to the Saudi royal family.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the Saudi government gave $25.7 billion in aid to Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, on the assumption that he was the lesser of two evils. Having spent massive amounts of money to upgrade its own military, the Saudi royal family exuded confidence. On April 27, 1990, Defense Minister Prince Sultan boasted, &ldquo;There are no foreign troops in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is because the Kingdom&rsquo;s policy is to rely on Allah and the arms of its sons in defending itself and its holy places.&rdquo; Three months later, Iraq invaded Kuwait and easily overran the country. Fearful that the Iraqis would cross the border into Saudi Arabia, King Fahd panicked. Osama bin Laden proposed to use the battle-hardened mujahedin to defend the country, but Fahd viewed bin Laden as a threat to his own power. Instead, Fahd, without consulting Crown Prince Abdullah or other members of the family, decided to accept US President George H. W. Bush&rsquo;s offer to defend the kingdom. More than 500,000 American troops poured into Saudi Arabia along with more than 200,000 troops from other, mostly Arab nations. The presence of the Americans was humiliating to many citizens of Saudi Arabia, who were disgusted at being protected by &ldquo;Jews and women.&rdquo; Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s forces, although numerous, were weak, poorly trained, and easily defeated. When this became clear, it exposed the weakness of the Saudi regime, which had wasted billions of dollars on its military and yet was unable to defend itself. The war was over by the end of February 1991, but King Fahd and the royal family still had a heavy price to pay, both literally and figuratively. Saudi Arabia reimbursed the United States and other coalition members to the tune of $65 billion, and then laid out another $50 billion to buy more weapons.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Discontent with the regime mildly emboldened opponents of the royal family to submit petitions for reform. One such Letter of Demands, signed by hundreds of ulemas, academics, and lawyers, called for an end to privilege for the royal family, a requirement that state officials be competent, an end to usury and taxes, and the safeguarding of individual rights. The royal family rejected the demands, and the Senior Ulema Council ruled that Saudi citizens did not have the right to publicly petition the king. King Fahd did propose in 1992 that Saudi Arabia adopt its first written constitution. He also appointed a ninety-member consultative council, the Majlis al-Shura, which had no power.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since it was obvious that the royal family had no intention of giving up even a tiny piece of power, it was not surprising that a violent opposition soon developed. Overwhelmingly, the Saudi people believed that the United States had used Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s invasion of Kuwait as an excuse to establish a permanent military presence in their country. There was a civilian insurrection in the town of al-Bureida, followed by hundreds of arrests. On November 13, 1995, a bomb attack on a US military mission in Riyadh killed five people and wounded sixty. Four Saudis were ultimately beheaded for the crime.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>King Number Six: Abdullah</b></div> <div>Two weeks after the Riyadh bombing, Fahd suffered a stroke. Although he continued to be king, his duties were gradually turned over to Crown Prince Abdullah. Even though he did not officially take over as king of Saudi Arabia until Fahd&rsquo;s death in 2005, Abdullah has been the de facto ruler of the country.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On June 26, 1996, four weeks after the beheading of the men found guilty of the Riyadh bombing, a truck carrying 5,000 pounds of explosives blew up near the barracks of the US Air Force base at Khobar, killing 19 people and wounding more than 500, most of them Americans.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/satoc.html">Library of Congress Country Study</a></div> <div><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Saudi_Arabia">History of Saudi Arabia</a> (Wikipedia)</div>
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Saudi Arabia's Newspapers
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/saudi.htm">Saudi Arabia's Newspapers</a></div>
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History of U.S. Relations with Saudi Arabia
<p>Diplomatic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia were established in 1933. The US embassy opened in Jeddah in 1944 (and moved to Riyadh in 1984). The US consulate general in Dhahran opened in 1944 in response to the growing oil-related US presence in eastern Saudi Arabia.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div>By the early 1940s, the extent of Saudi oil resources had become known, and the United States petroleum companies that held the concession to develop the oil fields were urging Washington to assume more responsibility for security and political stability in the region. Consequently, in 1943 the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the defense of Saudi Arabia was a vital interest to the United States and dispatched the first US military mission to the kingdom. In addition to providing training for the Saudi army, the United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed the airfield at Dhahran and other facilities.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US-Saudi security relationship steadily expanded during the Cold War. This process was facilitated by the shared suspicions of Riyadh and Washington regarding the nature of the Soviet threat to the region and the necessity of containing Soviet influence. As early as 1947, the Truman administration formally assured Saudi Arabia that its territorial integrity and political independence was a primary objective of the United States. This commitment became the basis for the 1951 mutual defense assistance agreement. Under this agreement, the United States provided military equipment and training for the Saudi armed forces. An important provision of the bilateral pact authorized the United States to establish a permanent United States Military Training Mission in the kingdom.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When King Saud visited New York in January 1957, the city&rsquo;s Catholic mayor, Robert Wagner, refused to welcome him. Wagner cited Saud&rsquo;s anti-Semitic remarks, his refusal to allow Jewish soldiers to participate in the US Training Mission in Saudi Arabia, his banning of Christian ceremonies, and the fact that Saudi Arabia still practiced slavery. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon put the case bluntly. &ldquo;Here we are &hellip;pouring by way of gifts to that totalitarian state, Saudi Arabia, millions of dollars of the taxpayers&rsquo; money to maintain the military forces of a dictatorship. We ought to have our heads examined.&rdquo; None of this mattered to President Dwight Eisenhower, who increased US aid to Saudi Arabia by $180 million in exchange for five-year use of the Dhahran military base.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US-Saudi relationship endured despite strains caused by differences over Israel. Saudi Arabia had not become reconciled to the 1948 establishment of Israel in the former Arab-dominated territory of Palestine and refused to extend Israel diplomatic recognition or to engage in any form of relations with Israel. Despite this position, Riyadh acknowledged that its closest ally, the United States, had a special relationship with Israel. After the June 1967 War, however, Saudi Arabia became convinced that Israel opposed Riyadh&rsquo;s strong ties with Washington and wanted to weaken them.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the 1970s and 1980s, periodic controversies over United States arms sales to the kingdom tended to reinforce Saudi concerns about the extent of political influence that supporters of Israel wielded in Washington. In several instances congressional leaders opposed United States weapons sales on the grounds that the Saudis might use them against Israel. Despite assurances from Saudi officials that the weapons were necessary for their country's defense, Congress reduced or canceled many proposed arms sales.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1985 President Reagan (who received campaign contributions from the Saudi royal family during his 1984 re-election campaign) sought authority to sell Saudi Arabia 42 F-15s, antiaircraft missiles, Harpoon antiship missiles, and Blackhawk troop-carrying helicopters. The proposal raised a storm of opposition in Congress and had to be withdrawn. In 1986 and 1988, scaled-down packages were introduced and eventually approved by Congress after Stinger antiaircraft and Maverick antitank missiles were deleted. Among the approved items were Bradley fighting vehicles, TOW II antitank missiles, electronic upgrades for the F-15s, and 12 additional F-15s to remain in the United States until needed as replacements.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite getting shortchanged in its military requests, Saudi Arabia was willing to step up and help the Reagan administration in key areas of foreign policy. When Congress made it illegal to give money and weapons to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, the Saudis donated $32 million to the Contra cause. They also helped finance US covert operations in Lebanon.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>United States arms transfer agreements with Saudi Arabia increased dramatically in 1990. Of a total of $14.5 billion in contracts signed, $6.1 billion preceded the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. They included LAVs, TOW II launchers and missiles, and 155mm howitzers, 315 M1A2 tanks, and 30 tank recovery vehicles. Following Iraq&rsquo;s occupation of Kuwait, Washington dispatched more than 400,000 troops to the kingdom to ward off potential aggression. This was not the first time that United States forces had been stationed on Saudi soil. The huge Dhahran Air Base had been used by the United States Air Force from 1946 to 1962. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy had ordered a squadron of fighters to Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom from Egyptian air assaults. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter loaned four sophisticated airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft and their crews to Saudi Arabia to monitor developments in the Iran-Iraq War.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>However, the presence of United States and other foreign forces prior to and during the Persian Gulf War was of an unprecedented magnitude. Despite the size of the United States and allied contingents, the military operations ran relatively smoothly. The absence of major logistical problems was due in part to the vast sums that Saudi Arabia had invested over the years to acquire weapons and equipment, construct modern military facilities, and train personnel.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After the war, Saudi Arabia again faced the prospect of congressional opposition to its requests for weapons. Riyadh believed that it cooperation in the war against Iraq demonstrated the legitimacy of its defense requirements. Nevertheless, the United States informed Saudi officials that their request to purchase $20 billion in military equipment probably would not win the required approval of Congress. Riyadh reluctantly agreed to an administration proposal to revise its request into two or three separate packages, which would be submitted in consecutive years. This process tended to erode the positive feelings created during the war and revive Saudi resentments about being treated as a less than equal ally.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The troubles over military sales did not poison the strong relationship between President George H. W. Bush and the House of Saud. Royal family members gave a $2 million painting to the White House, $1.1 million to the George Bush Presidential Library, and $500,000 to the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy.</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Saudi Arabia
<p>&nbsp;<b>Noted Saudi Arabian-American</b></p> <div><b>Ferial Masry</b> is a Democratic politician currently running for California State Assembly in the 37th District. She was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and moved to Egypt when she was ten in order to receive an education. She graduated from Cairo University with a degree in journalism and later moved to Southern California with her husband. She is a champion of education and women&rsquo;s rights and was rewarded the Human Rights Award in 2005.</div> <p>The Saudi royal family did not know quite what to make of George W. Bush during the early months of his presidency. They considered his father a good friend and George W. himself had been in the oil business. Yet in August 2001, the new President Bush infuriated King Abdullah by publicly stating that the violence between Israel and Palestine was the fault of the Palestinians. Previous presidents had shown at least a little sympathy for the Palestinian plight and had occasionally rebuked the Israelis for one excess or another. Abdullah passed on his displeasure through diplomatic channels, stating in a letter to Bush that because of US support for Israel, &ldquo;It is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look at their separate interests.&rdquo; Abdullah was delighted when Bush responded with a letter reversing his position.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On September 11, 2001, terrorists using hijacked planes attacked New York&rsquo;s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The US government quickly revealed the identities of the nineteen, fifteen of whom were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, was also a Saudi, as was Osama bin Laden, the godfather of al-Qaeda, the organization that oversaw the planning of the attacks. Many Saudis could not accept the fact that their own citizens could have committed such a horrific crime. The Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef Ibn Abd Al-Aziz, blamed the 9/11 attacks on &ldquo;Zionists,&rdquo; and Crown Prince Abdullah himself refused to acknowledge the existence of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia until more than eighteen months later.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the days following 9/11, when all commercial flights were grounded, the Bush administration allowed 140 Saudis, mostly members of the royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden, to leave the United States without being questioned by the FBI. Although the vast majority of these fortunate Saudis were innocent of any connection to al-Qaeda, there were some who might have provided crucial information about bin Laden&rsquo;s actions and, particularly, about al-Qaeda&rsquo;s funding. Later investigators were especially interested in one person who was allowed to leave: Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who died in his sleep ten months later at the age of forty-two.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In August 2002, 600 family members of 9/11 victims filed a $1 trillion lawsuit against the House of Saud and other Saudis alleging that they had funded terrorism, either directly or by laundering money through questionable wings of legitimate charities. When the US Congress released its report on the 9/11 attacks in July 2003, the Bush administration blocked the release of twenty-eight pages dealing with Saudi Arabia, claiming that their publication would jeopardize ongoing investigations into terrorist funding. They remain classified today.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Crown Prince Abdullah and his family went to great lengths to smooth over relations with the United States. They paid $17.6 million to lobbyists and public relations firms, most notably Qorois Communication and Patton Boggs, to spread the message of Saudi-US friendship in a campaign that included 1,541 television ads in two weeks. In November 2001, the Saudi government awarded a $140 million contract to develop an oil field to Halliburton, the company formerly run by former Vice President Dick Cheney and in which he still held stock options. The Saudi public relations efforts did not sway the American people who, according to polls, overwhelmingly considered Saudi Arabia more of an enemy than an ally. The feeling was mutual. A Zogby International poll showed that 87% of Saudis had an unfavorable opinion of the United States. But if the people of the two countries were mistrustful of each other, their leaders felt just the opposite. President Bush would gush about the &ldquo;eternal friendship&rdquo; between the United States and Saudi Arabia. When Abdullah visited Bush&rsquo;s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2002 and again in 2005, the two made a point of kissing and holding hands in front of the cameras. Reports of their meetings have revealed some awkward moments. For example, during the first visit in 2002, Bush took Abdullah&rsquo;s hands and tried to lead him in a Christian prayer.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A total of 1,189,731 people identified themselves as being of Arab ancestry in the 2000 US census (there is no category for Saudis), although scholars estimate there may be over 3 million ethnic Arabs in America. Traditional fear of governmental abuse of personal information has led many Arabs to conceal their ethnicity. Over a third of the Arab population in America lives in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 38,756 Americans visited Saudi Arabia. The number of Americans traveling to Saudi Arabia has fluctuated between a low of 35,405 (2003), and a high of 48,498 (2005) since 2002.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The number of Saudis visiting the US in 2006 was 31,511. Tourism dropped off from 2002-2003 (from 25,588 to18,727 visitors), and has increased steadily since then.</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>&nbsp;</p> <div>To say oil dominates trade between the US and Saudi Arabia is almost an understatement. In 2008, American imports from the kingdom totaled $54.7 billion&mdash;of which $54 billion was petroleum related (crude oil $53 billion, fuel oil $63 million, and other petroleum products $756 million). Crude oil imports have increased steadily since 2003, when they totaled $16.8 billion.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, American exports to Saudi Arabia totaled $12.5 billion in 2008. While exports were spread out over an array of goods, the single most valuable export was passenger cars ($3.3 billion). Five years earlier, car sales totaled $640 million. Other leading exports include industrial engines ($1.1 billion), drilling and oilfield equipment ($540 million), electrical equipment ($330 million), generators ($245 million),</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $667.9 million of defense articles and services to Saudi Arabia in 2007. Leading categories of military exports are engines and turbines for military aircraft ($28.8 million), military trucks and armored vehicles ($16 million), tanks, artillery, missiles, rockets, guns and ammunition ($44.1 million), military apparel and footwear ($45.5 million) and parts for military-type goods ($77 million). Among the largest contracts was one for $386 million for 152 GE/Pratt&amp;Whitney jet engines.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to research performed by the Congressional Research Service, Saudi Arabia regained its position in 2007 as the leading purchaser of weapons in the developing world. Saudi Arabia ranked first in the value of arms transfer agreements among all developing nations weapons purchasers, concluding $10.6 billion in such agreements.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US gave $365,000 in aid to Saudi Arabia in 2009, divided between Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, De-mining and Related Programs ($350,000), and International Military Education and Training ($15,000).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c5170.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Saudi Arabia</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c5170.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Saudi Arabia</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64734.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Saudi Arabia: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 568-569)</font></a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/saudi.html"><font color="#0000ff">Country Analysis Brief, U.S. Department of Energy</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/saudi_arabia.htm"><font color="#0000ff">US Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia 1990-2000</font></a> (Federation of American Scientists)</div>
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Controversies
<p><b>Bush Administration Announces $20 Billion Arms Deal for Saudi Arabia</b></p> <div>In July 2007, the Bush administration announced a controversial $20 billion arms sale over the next 10 years to Saudi Arabia and five other American allies in the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). A senior defense official pointed out that the Saudi government unsuccessfully seeks an arms deal nearly every year, and that in 2007, the Bush administration wanted to support the sale to counter what it saw as a rising military threat from Iran.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;The Iranians have been acting for the last six months like nobody can stop them,&rdquo; Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said in an interview. &ldquo;Now, the United States and its friends in the Middle East are showing Iran that, in fact they've got lots of resources, which, if need be, they can use to check the Iranian ambitions.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Critics argued that the deal would accelerate a regional arms race in the Middle East and threaten a precarious three-way balance between Israel, Sunni Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, and Shiite nations such as Iraq and Iraq.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Saudi arms package was in the works for months. It initially faced objections by Israel, particularly over the first-ever proposed sale of precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to Saudi Arabia. &ldquo;There is a worry that a precision strike weapon in Saudi hands could, in theory, be used against Israel, either by the Saudi Air Force itself or by another Arab state the Saudis might supply that weapon with,&rdquo; said Michael O&rsquo;Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=3424836&amp;page=1">Possible Saudi Arms Sale Stirs Controversy</a> (by John Hendren, ABC News)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>US Pressured Saudis to Change Textbooks after 9/11</b></div> <div>In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States pressured Saudi Arabia to reform its educational curriculum by eliminating educational material that demonizes Christians and Jews or that urges holy war on &ldquo;the unbelievers.&rdquo; Senior Saudi officials have assured the United States that the reforms were completed, but a new report by the human-rights group Freedom House suggested otherwise.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wahhabism, a strict and rigid interpretation of Islam, permeates life in Saudi Arabia and has long dominated the public school curriculum. When it was learned that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis, the United States demanded changes in the Saudi school system in the belief that the strict Islamist curriculum encouraged a culture of violence. Saudi officials have been trying to convince Washington that the educational curriculum has been reformed. During speaking tour of American cities, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, assured audiences that the kingdom had &ldquo;eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance&rdquo; from its old textbooks.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House studied some of the textbooks currently in use in Saudi public schools, from grades one through 12. Nina Shea, the center&rsquo;s director, said the texts did not comport with what Saudi officials were saying. The textbooks &ldquo;reflect an ideology of hatred against the other, against Christians, Jews, other Muslims, for instance, Shiites and the majority Sunni Muslims and all others who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi doctrine,&rdquo; Shea said.</div> <div>The center&rsquo;s report cited numerous examples. It quoted a fourth-grade text as telling students to &ldquo;love for the sake of God and to hate for the sake of God.&rdquo; The report said that textbooks instruct students that Christians and Jews are &ldquo;apes and pigs&rdquo; and warns students not to &ldquo;greet,&rdquo; &ldquo;befriend&rdquo; or &ldquo;respect&rdquo; non-believers.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5426633">Saudi Textbooks Still Teach Hate, Group Says</a> (by Vicky O'Hara, NPR Radio)</div> <div><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/19/AR2006051901769.html">This is a Saudi Textbook. (After the Intolerance Was Removed.)</a> (by Nina Shea, Washington Post)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Basic Law provides for a system of government and citizen&rsquo;s rights. In the past, Saudi Arabia has been found to be in violation of numerous human rights, including rights of the accused, civil liberties, and women&rsquo;s rights.&nbsp;</p> <div><u>&nbsp;</u></div> <div><b>Civil Liberties</b></div> <div>Saudi Arabian government enforces strict censorship on all types of media, including print journalism, television, books, movies, sermons, and internet, through agencies such as the Ministry of Information and the Supreme Information Council. The government owns all radio and television stations. Internet was banned until 1999, and now, all websites are banned until individually approved. Phone calls are monitored, and camera phones are banned. Public employees are forbidden to communicate with foreign media. Blasphemy is also criminalized. In 2008, Sabri Bogday was sentenced to death for blaspheming against God and the prophet Muhammad in his barbershop.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Recently there has been some easing of restrictions on censorship. In the 2008 Riyadh International Book Fair, several books relating to religious diversity and philosophy were displayed and sold. Also in 2008, the country&rsquo;s first official film contest, in which 33 citizen-produced competed, was opened in Dammam by the minister of culture and information.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There is also no freedom of religion as all religions other than Islam are outlawed. This applies to non-nationals as well. In 2004, Brian O&rsquo;Connor, a Christian citizen of India, was beaten and deported for owning a Bible and other Christian literature. Schools are only allowed to teach Islam, and the teaching of Western philosophy is forbidden.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Saudi citizens and residents also do not have the freedom of assembly. In 2003, hundreds of Saudis staged a public protest at a government-hosted international human rights conference. They were all arrested. About 80 were held for months and others were flogged. And in 2007, five women were arrested for staging a sit-in outside a prison, advocating timely trials for imprisoned relatives. &nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Women&rsquo;s Rights</b></div> <div>The suppression of women is ingrained in Saudi Arabian society. Sexual segregation is strictly enforced. Women are forbidden to appear in public with a man who is not her relative. They also cannot work with or drive with men, and they are not allowed to travel without a male relative&rsquo;s consent. Women must cover their bodies completely and veil their faces in public. The Mutawa&rsquo;een religious police exist partly to enforce these laws. On March 11, 2002 in Mecca, a fire broke out in a girls&rsquo; school. As the girls rushed out the building, the Mutawa&rsquo;een forced them back inside because they were not wearing headscarves and because they were not accompanied by male relatives. When male bystanders tried to enter the school to save the girls, the Mutawa&rsquo;een stopped them because they were not relatives. In the end, fifteen girls died because of the intervention of the religious police.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Domestic violence against women is deeply rooted in tradition, and there is no law banning domestic violence. Ibn Saud, a national hero, was notorious for his physical abuse of slaves, servants, concubines, and wives. The issue finally surfaced publicly in April 2004 when a well-known television presenter, April Rania al-Baz, was beaten by her husband because she answered the telephone. He dumped her unconscious at a hospital, where she was discovered to have thirteen facial fractures. Because she was famous, her husband was imprisoned and she was able to obtain a divorce and retain custody of her two sons. Unfortunately, her case is the exception, and most beaten wives have no choice but to suffer abuse. Under Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Shari&rsquo;a law, a man can divorce his wife simply by saying so, but a woman cannot divorce her husband. In 2007, programs such as the National Family Safety program and the Committee of Social Protection were launched in response to the lack of help for victims of domestic violence.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Social stigma against raped women is strong. Many victims do not report rape for fear that they will be considered unfit for marriage or even punished.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Women are limited in the work place and often relegated to certain sectors of the job market, such as education and health care. In 2008, Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s first women&rsquo;s university began construction.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Children&rsquo;s Rights</b></div> <div>Child marriage is not outlawed in Saudi Arabia. There are numerous cases documenting the arranged marriage of young girls to young boys or to much older men, without both participants&rsquo; consents. Some cases have been challenged in court. In 2008, a court in Bisha granted the divorce of a 14-year-old girl and a 70-year-old man, but in another case, the judge refused annulment of the marriage between a man in his 50s and an 8-year-old girl, whose father had arranged the marriage in order to settle his debts. Raising the legal age of adulthood from 15 to 18 has been suggested to the king.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There is no law that stipulate at what age a child should be tried as an adult. Sultan Kohail was sentenced by a juvenile court to one year in prison and 200 lashes for a crime he committed when he was 16. In 2008, an appeals court ordered a retrial for the same crime in adult court, and Sultan Kohail faces the death penalty if convicted.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Prison Conditions, Rights of the Accused, and Due Process</b></div> <div>Saudi Arabian law prohibits arbitrary arrest and provides that those arrested be given a trial within six months of their arrest. In reality, however, the law is not really implemented and the accused face many injustices.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Amnesty International, in Saudi Arabia routinely use torture to extract &ldquo;confessions.&rdquo; Prisoners are not allowed to reveal the content of their interrogations to visitors. If a prisoner renounces his &ldquo;confession&rdquo; on trial, he is sent back to prison for further interrogation. One such case in 2004 involved the arrest of twelve nonviolent dissidents for holding a public gathering in favor of establishing a constitutional monarchy. All twelve confessed, but in court three of them, university professors Abdullah al-Hamid and Matrouok al-Falih and poet Ali al-Damaini, renounced their confessions. One of their lawyers was imprisoned without charge after he spoke about the case on television. At the beginning, the trial was public, but then the doors were shut and it was held in secret. The defendants were sentenced to six to nine years in prison. In 2007, at least six cases of torture and custodial death were brought against the religious police, but none of them were found guilty.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Still, according to a 2007 report by Human Rights First Society, and unlicensed domestic human rights group, there has been a decline of torture in prisons. Torture was formally banned, and officers who continued to torture were suspended or dismissed. For example, in April 2007, prison guards at the al Ha'ir Correctional Facility were caught beating prisoners on their palms and the soles of their feet. Prison authorities suspended the prison guards involved for 20 to 30 days.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Flogging is routinely used as punishment for crimes, ranging from alcohol-related offenses to traffic violations. Flogging victims can be suspended with chains and lashed with a flexible metal cable. The record for the most lashes imposed on a prisoner is 4,750, for having sex with his wife&rsquo;s sister. Although it is not known if he survived, his wife&rsquo;s sister got sixty-five lashes as well, even though she was the one who reported the incident. Teenage boys are publicly flogged for talking to a young woman or whistling at one. There have been incidents of floggings being announced through public address systems at shopping malls to give shoppers a chance to watch. In March 2001, a military officer was given twenty lashes for using a mobile phone during a flight. In December 2008, three people were accused of theft; one was sentenced to four years' imprisonment and 400 lashes and the other two were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and 200 lashes.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Punishments more severe than flogging have been documented. A convicted thief can have his right hand cut off, while highway robbers are punished by cross-amputation, the loping off of their right hand and their left foot. Qisas (retaliation) punishment&mdash;literally, an eye for an eye&mdash;is also practiced. In 2000, for example, an Egyptian national was convicted in Medina of throwing acid in the face of another Egyptian and damaging his left eye. The guilty party, Abdel Moti Abdel Rahman Mohammad, was sentenced to forcible removal of his left eye.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In court the court of law, a man&rsquo;s testimony is worth twice as much as a woman&rsquo;s and testimonies by Shia Muslims can be discounted.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Rights of Non-Nationals</b></div> <div>The Saudi royal family has, for decades, imported foreigners to do unpleasant jobs. Yemenis serve as servants and street sweepers; Thai women as nannies; Filipino men as waiters; Korean men as construction workers; and Somalis, Ethiopians, Indians, and Sri Lankans as servants and manual laborers. These foreigners, particularly those women who work inside private homes, are subject to physical abuse and sexual violence. Eighty percent of prison inmates in Saudi Arabia are non-Saudis and about half of those prisoners who are executed are foreign nationals.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100605.htm">U.S. State Department</a></div> <div><a href="http://hrw.org/doc/?t=mideast&amp;c=saudia">Human Rights Watch</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/middle-east-and-north-africa/west-gulf/saudi-arabia">Amnesty International</a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Bert Fish<br /> Appointment: Aug 7, 1939<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1940<br /> Termination of Mission: Left Cairo Feb 28, 1941<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Egypt; resident at Cairo. </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Note: After Fish had withdrawn but before Kirk presented credentials as non-resident minister, the Legation in Jidda was established on May 1, 1942, with James S. Moose, Jr., as Charge d'Affaires ad interim.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Alexander C. Kirk<br /> Appointment: Feb 21, 1941<br /> Presentation of Credentials: May 11, 1942<br /> Termination of Mission: Superseded Jul 18, 1943<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Egypt and to the Government of Greece established in Egypt; resident at Cairo.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James S. Moose, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jun 4, 1943<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 18, 1943<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 18, 1944</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William A. Eddy<br /> Appointment: Aug 12, 1944<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1944<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post May 28, 1946</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>J. Rives Childs<br /> Appointment: Apr 27, 1946<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1946<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 21, 1950<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Raymond A. Hare<br /> Appointment: Sep 20, 1950<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 24, 1950<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1953<br /> <span>Note: Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>George Wadsworth<br /> Appointment: Oct 21, 1953 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1954<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 1, 1958<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 26, 1954. Also accredited to Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Donald R. Heath<br /> Appointment: Nov 27, 1957 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1958<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 18, 1961<br /> <span>Note: Also commissioned to Yemen, but did not present credentials in that country. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 27, 1958.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Parker T. Hart<br /> Appointment: Apr 6, 1961<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 22, 1961<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, May 29, 1965<br /> <span>Note: Also commissioned to Kuwait and Yemen; resident at Jidda.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Porter<br /> <span>Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Hermann F. Eilts<br /> Appointment: Oct 20, 1965<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 15, 1966<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 23, 1970</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Nicholas G. Thacher<br /> Appointment: Sep 8, 1970<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 22, 1970<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 19, 1973</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James E. Akins<br /> Appointment: Sep 20, 1973<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1973<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 10, 1975</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Porter<br /> Appointment: Dec 22, 1975<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 21, 1976<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, May 27, 1977</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John C. West<br /> Appointment: Jun 8, 1977<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1977<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1981</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Robert Gerhard Neumann<br /> Appointment: May 20, 1981<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 22, 1981<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 16, 1981</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Richard W. Murphy<br /> Appointment: Aug 19, 1981 <br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 29, 1981<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1983<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Sep 29, 1981.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Walter Leon Cutler<br /> Appointment: Feb 10, 1984<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Mar 31, 1984<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 22, 1987</div> <div>Note: On Sep 26, 1984, the U.S. Liaison Office in Riyadh was raised to the rank of Embassy while the Embassy in Jidda (now Jeddah) became a Consulate General.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Hume Alexander Horan<br /> Appointment: Jul 2, 1987<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 22, 1987<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 22, 1988</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Walter Leon Cutler<br /> Appointment: Jul 15, 1988<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 1988<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 30, 1989</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Chas. W. Freeman, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jun 15, 1989<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1990<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 13, 1992</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Frank Bookout, Jr.<br /> <span>Note: Nomination of Jun 3, 1992 was not acted on by the Senate. </span></div> <div>Note: C. David Welch served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim Aug 1992-Aug 1994.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Jul 5, 1994<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 1, 1994<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 25, 1996</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Wyche Fowler, Jr.<br /> Appointment: Aug 9, 1996<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1996<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001<br /> <span>Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 31, 1997.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Robert W. Jordan<br /> Appointment: Oct 5, 2001<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 2002<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 13, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>James C. Oberwetter<br /> Appointment: Dec 11, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 10, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 31, 2007</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/11214.htm">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia</a></div>
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Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Al-Jubeir, Adel

Adel A. Al-Jubeir was appointed as ambassador to the United States on January 29, 2007. Born on February 1, 1962 in Majma'ah (Riyadh Province), Saudi Arabia, Al-Jubeir attended schools in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Yemen, Lebanon, and the US. He obtained a BA summa cum laude in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982, and an MA in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984.


In 1987 Al-Jubeir was appointed into the Saudi Diplomatic Service and posted to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, where he served as special assistant to the ambassador. In 1990-91, he was part of the Saudi team that established the Joint Information Bureau at Dhahran during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
 
He was a member of the GCC delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991, and a member of the Saudi delegation to the Multilateral Arms Control Talks in Washington, DC in 1992. In December 1992, he was dispatched with the Saudi Armed Forces to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. Al-Jubeir was a visiting diplomatic fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York from 1994-95.

Al-Jubeir was appointed director of the Saudi Information and Congressional Affairs Office in Washington in 2000, and was named foreign affairs advisor in the Crown Prince’s Court in the fall of 2000. In August 2005, Al-Jubeir was appointed to the position of advisor at the Royal Court.
 
He is fluent in Arabic, English, and German.
 
Wild Days Behind Him, Envoy Keeps Low Profile (by Helene Cooper, New York Times)

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Saudi Arabia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.saudiembassy.net/">Saudi Arabia's Embassy in the U.S.</a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Smith, James B.
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James B. Smith reportedly donated $3,300 to President Barack Obama’s election, but that’s not what got him the ambassadorship to Saudi Arabia. What put the former Air Force general in Obama’s good graces was his decision in 2008 to endorse Obama at a time when the upstart Democrat was still trying to prove his national security credentials against his challenger, Hillary Clinton.

 
Unlike some of Obama’s other ambassadorial choices who had little or no prior experience in the country they’ve been assigned (such as Donald Gips to South Africa or John Roos to Japan), Smith at least has spent time in Saudi Arabia, back when he was a fighter pilot flying missions during Desert Storm. As a longtime Air Force officer, and most recently an executive for defense contractor Raytheon, Smith is also well versed in American military hardware, the most important U.S. export to Saudi Arabia.
 
A resident of Salem, New Hampshire, Smith graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s in military history in 1974, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He then attended Indiana University, where he received a master’s degree in history in 1975.
 
From February 1975 to February 1976, Smith was stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia and Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas for student pilot training. He remained at Laughlin until September 1979, serving as a T-38 instructor pilot. During this time he was promoted to first lieutenant and then captain.

For six months starting in October 1979, Smith received training on how to fly what was then the Air Force’s new tactical fighter, the F-15 Eagle. Upon completing his training, he was assigned to the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Camp New Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

From March 1982 to June 1984, Smith served as a training division staff officer, and later as executive officer serving under the deputy chief of staff for operations at the USAF headquarters in Europe, located at Ramstein Air Base in West Germany. He was promoted to the rank of major at this time.
 
Smith returned to the United States in June 1984 to serve as assistant operations officer for the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. In December 1985, he was made chief of the Standardization and Evaluation Division for the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman.

His rise through the ranks continued in May 1987, making lieutenant colonel, and the following month, he was sent to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to serve as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff for operations for Headquarters Tactical Air Command. Five months later Smith became the operations officer for the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, and in August 1989 he received his first command, taking over Langley’s 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Smith was made assistant deputy commander for operations of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley, and then was given the same post for the 4404th Provisional Wing stationed at Dhahran Air Base in Saudi Arabia. He flew several combat sorties during Desert Storm, giving him more than 4,000 flying hours for his career including his time in F-15s and T-38s.
 
After returning home from the war, Smith was sent to study at the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C., during which time he was promoted to colonel. After finishing his studies, he became the Air Force Chief of Staff chair at the National War College, before assuming command of the 325th Operations Group at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in July 1994.

Two years later he was promoted to vice director for operations at Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
 
In July 1998, Smith was deployed to Japan to become commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base. He was promoted to brigadier general on Oct 1, 1998, and returned to the U.S. in August 2000 to serve as deputy commander of the Joint Warfighting Center at the Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center in Suffolk, Virginia, where he was responsible for managing the joint force exercise and training development program. This would prove to be Smith’s last Air Force assignment, as he retired from the service in October 2002.
 
Like many high-ranking former military and Pentagon personnel, Smith joined the private sector after his retirement. He first went to work for Lockheed Martin as the company’s director of the Navy C2 programs, before moving to Raytheon. His positions at the defense contractor were vice president of precision engagement in Tucson, Arizona, followed by vice president of government business in Wichita, Kansas. He was serving as International Business Development Executive for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems when Obama appointed him to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to which Raytheon has been providing weapons and services since 1966.
 
In January 2008, Smith joined a long list of “national security experts” who endorsed Obama for president. The former Air Force officer made a higher profile endorsement of Obama in March, joining nine other high ranking military officers who came out in support of the Democrat as he strove to convince voters that Clinton was not the superior choice on issues of defense and national security.
 

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Fraker, Ford
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Ford M. Fraker was sworn in on April 11, 2007 as US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and served until April 2009. Born in Princeton, NJ, Fraker graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

 
A banker in the Middle East for more than 30 years, Fraker began his career with Chemical Bank where he worked from 1972 to 1979. He worked in Lebanon, the UAE, and Bahrain, ending as a vice president and regional manager for the bank’s Bahrain office. He joined the Saudi International Bank in 1979 and worked for SIB until 1991, holding positions of increasing management responsibility in the bank’s general banking, credit and client development units. When he left SIB in 1991, Fraker was serving on the bank’s management committee.

Fraker founded Fraker & Co. in 1991, and in 1993, he joined MeesPierson Investment Finance (UK) Limited, where he was the managing director responsible for placing US and European investment products with European and Middle Eastern institutional and private investors. In 1997, he co-founded Trinity Group Limited, a private investment banking firm in the United Kingdom, serving as managing director and chairman until his nomination by President Bush. He was also serving as a consultant for Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation in Boston, MA, at that time.
 
After leaving his post as ambassador, Fraker joined the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) as a senior advisor.

Fraker speaks French and Arabic.
 

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