US-Saudi relations in good and bad times


US President Joe Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia at a difficult time in relations, which have been tested by the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.
The US-Saudi alliance has weathered many storms over the decades, including tensions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the fallout from the September 11 attacks and Iranian politics.
But the relationship remains vital for both: the Saudis Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the largest customer of United States Foreign Military Sales.
Here are some milestones in the links:
1931
The United States recognizes the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, renamed Saudi Arabia the following year.
1933
Saudi Arabia grants an oil exploration concession to Standard Oil of California. Its Saudi subsidiary, later renamed Aramco, made the first commercial discovery in 1938.
[1945[1945
President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets King Abdulaziz aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal, setting the stage for decades of close ties.
1950
Saudi Arabia renegotiates the Aramco concession, thereby securing more revenue.
1951
Saudi Arabia and the United States reach a mutual defense assistance agreement, paving the way for American arms sales.
1973
Saudi Arabia joins an Arab oil embargo against the United States and other countries over their support of Israel in a 1973 war with Egypt and Syria. Oil prices had nearly quadrupled by the time the embargo was lifted in 1974.
1979
With American and Pakistani cooperation, Saudi Arabia is helping fund Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation. Many Saudis, including the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, fund and join the Afghan fighters.
1980
Saudi Arabia completes purchase of 100% of Aramco shares.
1990
Iraq invades Kuwait. The following year, US-led forces used Saudi Arabia as a launching pad to expel Iraqi forces. Most American troops then left Saudi Arabia, but thousands remained.
1996
A truck bomb kills 19 American soldiers at a US military compound in Khobar.
Bin Laden declares jihad against the Americans who he says are occupying Saudi Arabia.
2001
Nearly 3,000 people are killed in the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda hijackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers are Saudis.
Saudi Arabia still denies any connection or knowledge of the attacks. A US government commission in 2004 found no evidence that Saudi Arabia directly funded al-Qaeda. This leaves open the question of whether individual Saudi officials could have done this.
2003
Saudi Arabia opposes the US invasion of Iraq.
The United States withdraws all remaining combat troops from Saudi Arabia.
Three suicide bombers kill at least 35 people, including nine Americans, in Riyadh, part of a years-long militant insurgency against foreigners and Saudi government installations.
2011
The Arab world is rocked by uprisings. Saudi Arabia is concerned about what it sees as President Barack Obama’s abandonment of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a US ally.
2013
The Saudi royal family publicly complains about US policies, including Obama’s approach to Iran and Syria.
2015
World powers strike a deal with Iran to ease sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Riyadh fears this will strengthen Iran.
Saudi Arabia is launching a campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, giving Washington only hours notice. The United States, however, provides military support.
2016
Congress overturns Obama’s veto of a law removing sovereign immunity and clearing the way for relatives of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over the attacks.
2018
Saudi Arabia welcomes President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal.
In November, the United States condemns the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The United States becomes the world’s largest oil producer.
2019
US lawmakers, citing evidence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) role in the Khashoggi case and furious at the civilian toll of Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, are stepping up efforts to block arms sales to Riyadh. Riyadh blames the killing on rogue agents, denying MbS played a role.
An attack on Saudi oil facilities halves production. Trump says it looked like Iran was behind the attack, but stresses he doesn’t want to go to war.
2020
Saudi Arabia signals its support for the Abraham Accords under which its allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forge ties with Israel. Riyadh stops short of recognizing Israel itself.
2021
President Joe Biden is taking a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia’s rights record. As a presidential candidate, Biden had vowed to make Riyadh an “outcast” following Khashoggi’s murder.
Biden declares a halt to US support for offensive operations in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.
2022
In June, Biden said Saudi Arabia had shown “courageous leadership” in backing the extension of a UN-backed truce in Yemen.
With oil prices soaring, the White House welcomes the decision of OPEC+ countries to increase supplies.
Washington announces Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Biden says he is going to an international meeting that MbS would also attend.
The White House later announced that it would hold bilateral talks with King Salman and his leadership team, including MbS.
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