On Geopolitics

Why the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Are Destined to Diverge

Matthew Bey
Senior Global Analyst, Stratfor
Mar 14, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump leads a U.S. delegation at a working lunch with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his aides.

President Donald Trump holds a working lunch with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018.

(KEVIN DIETSCH - Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's current enthusiasm for Saudi Arabia notwithstanding, the relationship between the United States and perhaps its most important ally in the Middle East is undergoing a significant transformation. U.S. political pressure on Saudi Arabia is rising, led by a growing congressional discomfort over the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and the circumstances surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface of the politics of the day, a pair of more significant geopolitical shifts is helping pull the longtime allies apart: the evolution of the global system away from U.S. dominance toward an intensifying, near-peer competition with China, as well as the fundamental reshaping of the global oil and gas markets upon which Saudi Arabia has built its wealth and power. As both countries adjust to these changing dynamics, their shared strategic relationship will evolve away from the foundation of...

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