Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR

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Brookings Institution Press, Mar 12, 2019 - Political Science - 271 pages

An insider's account of the often-fraught U.S.-Saudi relationship

Saudi Arabia and the United States have been partners since 1943, when President Roosevelt met with two future Saudi monarchs. Subsequent U.S. presidents have had direct relationships with those kings and their successors—setting the tone for a special partnership between an absolute monarchy with a unique Islamic identity and the world's most powerful democracy.

Although based in large part on economic interests, the U.S.-Saudi relationship has rarely been smooth. Differences over Israel have caused friction since the early days, and ambiguities about Saudi involvement—or lack of it—in the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States continue to haunt the relationship. Now, both countries have new, still-to be-tested leaders in President Trump and King Salman.

Bruce Riedel for decades has followed these kings and presidents during his career at the CIA, the White House, and Brookings. This book offers an insider's account of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, with unique insights. Using declassified documents, memoirs by both Saudis and Americans, and eyewitness accounts, this book takes the reader inside the royal palaces, the holy cities, and the White House to gain an understanding of this complex partnership.


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FDR and Ibn Saud 1744 to 1953
Faisal Kennedy Johnson and Nixon 1953 to 1975
Khalid and Carter 1975 to 1982
Fahd Reagan and Bush 1982 to 1992
Abdallah Clinton and Bush 1993 to 2008
Obama and Trump Abdallah and Salman 2009 to 2017
Whither Saudi Arabia
The Official Record on Saudi Arabia and 911
Selected Bibliography
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About the author (2019)

Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, part of the Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. In addition, Riedel serves as a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy. He retired in 2006 after 30 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency, including postings overseas. He was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House. He was also deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Near East and South Asia at the Pentagon and a senior advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.

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