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Fact Sheets: Saudi Arabia's Historic Pattern of Opposing U.S. Interests & Rejecting Peace

(Updated August 2009)

When President Barack Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, he reportedly asked for Saudi support for his efforts to reinvigorate the peace process and specifically asked the king to take steps to normalize relations with Israel and encourage other Arab states to do the same. Abdullah refused and Saudi officials have subsequently made clear they have no intention of doing anything to support the President's peace efforts or to make any gestures that would hint at recognition of Israel. The king's snub of Obama was expected given the history of U.S.-Saudi relations. Here are a few examples of how Saudi Arabia has undermined U.S. interests through the years:

Saudi Arabia Undermines U.S. interests in Peace and Security

  • Following the Six-Day War, the United States expected the Saudis to play a moderating role in the Arab world and to support negotiations based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 but instead supported the adoption of the three noes of Khartoum.
  • The Saudis pressured countries to break relations with Israel and punished those that improved ties. For example, the Saudis broke ties with Zaire when that country restored them with Israel, severed relations with Costa Rica when it moved its embassy to Jerusalem and threatened to financially cripple Canada if it moved its embassy (it never did).
  • Jimmy Carter believed the Saudis agreed to support the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and would help rally Arab support for the agreement but instead did everything possible to sabotage the treaty, ostracizing Egypt and discouraging other countries from following Sadat's example.
  • Saudi officials now reject Obama’s proposals and discourage other Arab leaders from accepting them.

Saudi Arabia Damages the U.S. Economy

  • Our friend and ally imposed an oil boycott in 1967 and a more crippling one in 1973 that threatened U.S. military operations in Vietnam, caused a spike in inflation and sent the economy into a recession.
  • When the United States created a strategic petroleum reserve to protect the nation against future oil shortages, the Saudis threatened to reduce production.
  • The Saudis continue to manipulate oil supply to ensure that prices stay high, but not so high as to provoke conservation measures.
  • Saudi Arabia continues to adhere to the Arab boycott which has historically blacklisted American companies for doing business in Israel.
  • As in response to the 9/11 lawsuit mentioned below, the Saudis have threatened to withdraw their sizeable investments in the United States if American policy displeases them.

Saudi Arabia Supports Terrorists Who Kill Americans and Threaten Our Allies

  • U.S. officials have repeatedly cited Saudi Arabia as a leading sponsor of terrorism.
  • 15 of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis as were one-third of the prisoners at Guantanamo.
  • King Abdullah criticized America’s “illegitimate” occupation and large numbers of Saudis joined the insurgency in Iraq fighting U.S. forces.
  • The Saudis have long supported Palestinian terrorists, paid off the families of “martyrs” and, more recently, provided funding to Hamas.
  • Saudis support charities funding terror.
  • Saudi Arabia finances Muslim schools around the world that teach the most extreme versions of Islam and foster hatred of Christians, Jews and the West.
  • When they had the opportunity, the Saudis refused to arrest bin Laden and the mastermind of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing.
  • The Saudi government obstructed the FBI investigations into the murder of five Americans in the 1995 bombing of a National Guard building in Riyadh and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran that killed 19 Americans.
  • The Saudi intelligence service found that 95 percent of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 supported bin Laden in October 2001.
  • The Saudis threatened to withdraw billions of dollars in investments from the United States if a lawsuit against Saudi officials filed by 9/11 survivors was not dropped.

Saudi Arabia Opposes American Core Values

  • Saudi Arabia does not respect any of the basic freedoms — speech, assembly, religion, press —Americans hold dear.
  • Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian theocracy run by a family that came to power through conquest.
  • Saudi Arabia did not abolish slavery until pressured to do so by President Kennedy in the 1960s.
  • Saudis prevent Christian worship and have confiscated religious articles such as bibles and crucifixes.
  • For years, Jews were barred from entering the country or even landing in transit, and remain unwelcome and the subject of anti-Semitic attacks by government officials, clergy and the media.
  • U.S. citizens, including troops defending the kingdom, have for decades been forced to accommodate their behavior to Saudi customs whereas Saudis expect the benefit of all of America's freedoms when they are in the United States.
  • Saudi women are treated as second class citizens in what has been described as gender apartheid.

Saudi Arabia Hurts American Security Interests

  • During the Cold War, the Saudis always claimed to be anti-Communist, and U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia were often justified by their opposition to the Soviet Union and need to be protected from it; however, the Saudis often threatened to turn to the Soviets when the U.S. did not give them what they wanted, did go behind America's back to secretly purchase Chinese missiles, and financed Soviet weapons purchases by Syria and others, which strengthened the Soviet foothold in the region.
  • Since allowing the U.S. to use the American-made based in Saudi Arabia to defend the kingdom from Saddam Hussein, the Saudis have repeatedly refused to allow U.S. forces to use those bases for other vital operations in the region.
  • Saudi Arabia has been uncooperative in efforts to isolate Iran or to stabilize Iraq.

Saudi Arabia Flouts U.S. Laws

  • Saudi Arabia has discriminated against Americans, in particular, Jews.
  • Even after promising to end its boycott of Israel in exchange for U.S. support of its admission into the World Trade Organization, the Saudis continue their boycott.
  • Saudis have been alleged to engage in bribery for decades to win military and other commercial contracts. Some of the alleged bribes have led to foreign companies winning contracts over American firms.