What Is America’s Relationship With Saudi Arabia?

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been allies for 70 years, but recent events are making the relationship look shaky. Will this enduring alliance last?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the Oval Office at the White House, March 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been allies for 70 years, but recent events are making the relationship look shaky. Will this enduring alliance last?

On paper, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. don’t have a whole lot in common. Saudi Arabia was founded on Sunni Islam beliefs. Here, women still have few rights and sharia law is strict. But there is one very important link between the two nations: oil.

The U.S. has maintained business interests in Saudi Arabian oil dating back to 1933. As such, the U.S. provides ongoing security for Saudi Arabia, in the words of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The U.S. makes a lot of money with Saudi Arabia on another commodity. Saudi Arabia buys more U.S. weapons exports than any other country in the world, purchasing billions of dollars of American arms every year, reports Newsweek.

But now, the tide is starting to turn. The disappearance and reported death of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist has strained relationships between the two countries. Lots of major companies will no longer be attending an upcoming business conference in Saudi Arabia, CBS News reports.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, prepare to have lunch in the State Dining Room, at the White House, March 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
  Mark Wilson / Getty Images

On Monday, Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia, and he “denies any knowledge” of “our Saudi Arabian citizen.”

Turkish officials say they have recordings that prove Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate.

Khashoggi went missing on October 2, disappearing when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get the paperwork he needed to get married. He can be seen walking into the building on surveillance video, but he’s never seen walking back out, according to USA Today.

Reports circulated that the Saudi government was preparing a statement that Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong, and that proper clearance for the interrogation had not been obtained. This would seem to absolve the Saudi royal family of any responsibility.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman and crown prince bin Salman on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Trump visited after he became president. While here, he negotiated an arms deal with the country that he does not intend to cancel. He has even recently suggested that Khashoggi was killed by radicals operating outside the Saudi government.

According to CNN Business, Google, JP Morgan Chase, Uber, and Ford are among the businesses which will not be sending representatives to the big conference in Saudi Arabia, known as “Davos in the desert.” With public sentiment and American business beginning to turn against Saudi Arabia in the wake of the recent news, the long-standing alliance could be headed for a big shake-up.