Saudi Arabia in the 1980s: Foreign Policy, Security, and Oil

Saudi Arabia in the 1980s: Foreign Policy, Security, and Oil

Saudi Arabia in the 1980s: Foreign Policy, Security, and Oil

Saudi Arabia in the 1980s: Foreign Policy, Security, and Oil

Excerpt

In the brief period of the 1970s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was drawn into a bewildering array of international issues: rivalry between the superpowers, escalating oil prices, Arab-Israeli wars and negotiations, inter-Arab squabbles, global financial instability, the consequences of the Iranian revolution, and aid to dozens of countries in the third world. Heads of state and prime ministers descended on Riyadh in record numbers, as did bankers and businessmen.

Oil, of course, was the basic reason for Saudi Arabia's unprecedented international involvement. Sitting atop the largest proven reserves of petroleum in the world, and capable of producing oil at very little cost, Saudi Arabia earned $225 billion from oil during the 1970s--over $60,000 per capita. In 1980 alone oil income amounted to another $95 billion.

One result of this boom was a massive spending program that in many ways brought about a socioeconomic revolution in Saudi Arabia. Though the Saud family still rules and the political continuity of the kingdom remains unbroken, King Khalid's reign has been influenced by internal and external events that have stretched the capacity of the Saudi political system.

In this study of Saudi foreign policy, William B. Quandt analyzes the threats confronting the kingdom, the Saudis' capacity to deal with them, and the role of the United States in Saudi Arabia's future. He discusses the points of stress in the "special relationship" between the kingdom and the United States, offering some guidelines for the conduct of future U.S.-Saudi relations.

Quandt, a senior fellow in the Brookings Foreign Policy Studies program, has written three other books on the Middle East and has twice served on the National Security Council staff, where he dealt with some of the issues in U.S.-Saudi relations covered in this book. He . . .

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