Saudi Arabia's Uncertain Future

March 9, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 10
Should the U.S. strengthen ties with the kingdom?
By Karen Foerstel


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Fayez Nureldine)
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — named heir to the Saudi throne last June 21 by his father, King Salman — is promoting social and economic reforms in the religiously conservative society, including efforts to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil and expand the technology, entertainment and tourist industries. (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Fayez Nureldine)

U.S.-Saudi relations are warming after years of conflict with the Obama administration. Citing mutual opposition to the Sunni kingdom's Shiite arch-enemy, Iran, President Trump and the Saudi king struck a $350 billion arms deal last year aimed at fighting terrorism and creating American jobs. But critics warn that Trump's unflinching support for the kingdom could pull the United States into one of the regional proxy conflicts between the Saudis and Iran. Meanwhile, the Saudis are seeking U.S. investors for high-tech and renewable energy ventures to help diversify the oil-dependent economy. They also are considering selling part of the massive, state-owned Aramco oil company to outside investors, which would open a window on the kingdom's secretive finances. To lure international support and investments, a new, 32-year-old crown prince is pushing social and economic reforms in the religiously conservative society. But human rights groups say the Saudis oppress dissidents at home and continue to fund extremist groups that share their hatred of Iran.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Israel, Palestine, and Middle East Peace
Dec. 11, 2020  The Abraham Accords
Apr. 13, 2018  The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Mar. 09, 2018  Saudi Arabia's Uncertain Future
Jun. 21, 2013  Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
May 2009  Middle East Peace Prospects
Oct. 27, 2006  Middle East Tensions Updated
Jan. 21, 2005  Middle East Peace
Aug. 30, 2002  Prospects for Mideast Peace
Apr. 06, 2001  Middle East Conflict
Mar. 06, 1998  Israel At 50
Aug. 30, 1991  The Palestinians
Oct. 19, 1990  The Elusive Search for Arab Unity
Feb. 24, 1989  Egypt's Strategic Mideast Role
Apr. 15, 1988  Israel's 40-Year Quandary
Mar. 02, 1984  American Involvement in Lebanon
Nov. 12, 1982  Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative
Apr. 23, 1982  Egypt After Sadat
Jan. 04, 1980  Divided Lebanon
Jul. 20, 1979  West Bank Negotiations
Dec. 01, 1978  Middle East Transition
Jan. 13, 1978  Saudi Arabia's Backstage Diplomacy
Oct. 29, 1976  Arab Disunity
May 16, 1975  Middle East Diplomacy
Sep. 13, 1974  Palestinian Question
Dec. 12, 1973  Middle East Reappraisal
Apr. 25, 1973  Israeli Society After 25 Years
Aug. 19, 1970  American Policy in the Middle East
Apr. 25, 1969  Arab Guerrillas
Aug. 02, 1967  Israeli Prospects
Jul. 06, 1966  Middle East Enmities
Apr. 14, 1965  Relations with Nasser
Aug. 17, 1960  Arab-Israeli Deadlock
May 27, 1959  Middle East Instability
Jun. 04, 1958  Nasser and Arab Unity
Oct. 02, 1957  Soviet Threat in Middle East
Sep. 18, 1956  Suez Dispute and Strategic Waterways
May 09, 1956  Middle East Commitments
Apr. 13, 1955  Middle East Conflicts
Mar. 31, 1954  Security in the Mideast
Oct. 23, 1952  Israel and the Arab States
Jan. 30, 1952  Egyptian Crisis and Middle East Defense
Mar. 17, 1948  Palestine Crisis
Feb. 18, 1946  Soviet Russia and the Middle East
Alliances and Security Agreements
Consumer Behavior
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Economic Development
General Employment and Labor
Global Issues
International Energy Trade and Cooperation
International Law and Agreements
Middle East Conflicts
Military Bases
Oil and Natural Gas
Popular Culture
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
Women in the Workplace