Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Correspondence: The Saudis' Strategic Wheat Reserve

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Correspondence: The Saudis' Strategic Wheat Reserve

Article excerpt

I strongly agreed with the overall analysis in Yossi Mann's article, "Can Saudi Arabia Feed Its People?" (Spring 2015), but I must cite one background dynamic that is unacknowledged in the choices initially made by the regime.

Among my graduate students in the 1990s in the international studies program were the twin sons of Prince Turki-Faisal. The young princes, both air force pilots who participated in the aerial combat with Iranian pilots over the Persian Gulf, were quite mature and capable in many academic and non-academic respects. In a lecture to a seminar, I discussed the availability of grains, wheat particularly, in the world marketplace. At the time, Canada's surplus crop had been bought up by China; the small surpluses in places such as France and Argentina had quickly disappeared from the world market, making the United States the only possible source of any surplus for the world at large. The Soviet Union happily bought most of the U.S. crop. As a result, Washington was in a dilemma with a very limited surplus available for export to meet an existing high demand and had to prioritize to whom to sell or distribute the limited supplies.

The young princes approached me privately after my presentation to discuss the ramifications of this dilemma. …

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