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Quick Facts: US and Saudi Arabia

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TEHRAN, April 12 (ICANA) – What follows are some facts about Saudi Arabia and its ties with the United States prepared in the wake of the recent developments in the region.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 10:18:00 AM
Quick Facts: US and Saudi Arabia

About Saudi Arabia



The modern Saudi kingdom was founded by the late King Abdul Aziz Al Saud. State.gov


Saudi Arabia is the 14th largest country in the world covering around two million square kilometers and has a population of nearly 29 million. Opec.org


The politics of Saudi Arabia takes place in a framework of a particular form of absolute monarchy whereby the King of Saudi Arabia is both head of state and the head of government. Paperbackswap.com


The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the male descendants of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud. Wn.com


Saudi Arabia's friendly history with America


The United States recognized the government of King Ibn Saud in 1931, and two years later in 1933, Ibn Saud granted a concession to the U.S. company, Standard Oil of California, allowing them to explore for oil in the country's Eastern Province, al-Hasa. Saudi-arabia-united-states-relations.co


The company gave the Saudi government £35,000 and also paid assorted rental fees and royalty payments. Wn.com


The special relationship with the United States actually dated to World War II. In 1943 the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the defense of Saudi Arabia was a vital interest to the United States and dispatched the first United States military mission to the kingdom. Countrystudies


In 1951, under a mutual defense agreement, the U.S. established a permanent U.S. Military Training Mission in the kingdom and agreed to provide training support in the use of weapons and other security-related services to the Saudi armed forces. Pbs.org


Saudi Arabia is a very important ally for the U.S. because they have a strong role in the region, the world's largest oil reserves and a strategically important location. However, the U.S. is also an important ally for Saudi Arabia, because their military cooperation provides Saudi forces with training and the best weaponry. Blogcritics.org


Secret deals & the Saudi oil


A significant portion of the millions of dollars U.S. companies and their politically influential executives have earned in deals with the Saudis has been through military contracts. Commondreams.org


The former U.S. president George Bush Sr. remains a senior adviser to the Washington D.C.-based Carlyle Group. That influential investment bank has deep connections to the Saudi royal family as well as financial interests in U.S. defense firms hired by the kingdom to equip and train the Saudi military. Federalobserver.com


The Carlyle Group has also served as a paid adviser to the Saudi monarchy on the so-called "Economic Offset Program,'' an arrangement that effectively requires U.S. arms manufacturers selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to give back a portion of their revenues in the form of contracts to Saudi businesses, most of whom are connected to the royal family. Commondreams.org


The Carlyle Group had a major stake in the large defense contractor B.D.M., which has multimillion-dollar contracts through its subsidiaries to train and manage the Saudi National Guard and the Saudi air force, U.S. Department of Defense records show. Federalobserver.com


Saudi Arabia-U.S. arms deal


In 2010, The Obama administration notified Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion, the largest U.S. arms deal ever, and about talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more. Huffingtonpost.com


The Wall Street Journal reported that the package would include 84 new Boeing F-15 fighter jets and upgrades to another 70 of them. It would also include three types of helicopters: 72 Black Hawk helicopters, 70 Apaches, and 36 Little Birds. In addition, U.S. officials are discussing a $30 billion package to upgrade Saudi Arabia's naval forces. Csmonitor.com


Besides the new fighters for Saudi Arabia, the U.S. plans to upgrade an additional 70 of the kingdom's existing F-15s. State Department and Pentagon officials told lawmakers the sales also will include 190 helicopters, as well as an array of missiles, bombs, delivery systems and accessories such as night-vision goggles and radar warning systems. Cbsnews.com


Have Saudi-U.S. ties chilled?


Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have chilled to their coldest since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saudi officials are still angry that President Barack Obama abandoned President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the face of demonstrations, ignored American requests not to send troops into Bahrain to help crush Shia-led protests there. Tech.mit.edu


Saudi Arabia-Bahrain link


Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain, where a popular uprising is going on in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. The Shias form the majority of population in Bahrain.


The Bahraini regime tries to depict the current uprising as a Shia-Sunni divide.


“We are not talking about a Shia-Sunni dispute. There is a dispute between the Bahraini opposition -- majority of them Shia -- and the ruling elite, the ruling family, and not the Sunni people,” president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab says.


Saudi Arabia confirmed on March 14, 2011 its deployment of more than 1,000 troops to neighboring Bahrain, in an effort to help the kingdom cope with continuing anti-government protests. Rfi.fr/middle-east


The intervention reportedly came after repeated calls by the Bahraini government for dialogue went unanswered by the opposition. Rfi.fr/middle-east


Bahrain's opposition merely wants basic rights, but the regime has falsely labeled the demonstrators as "terrorists" and is trying to make it seem as if forces from neighboring Persian Gulf states, led by the Saudis, are protecting Bahrain. Theweek.com


Saudi Arabia's military deployment reflects concerns in Riyadh that a successful political sweep by Bahrain's Shia could encourage Saudi's own Shia minority (some 15% of the population), which is largely concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province, to become much more assertive. Riskwatchdog.com


Saudi Arabia protests


The Saudi protests are primarily happening in the Eastern Province where the majority of the population is Shia. Washingtonexaminer.com


On 29 January, hundreds of people protested over poor infrastructure in Jeddah following flooding and an online campaign for major political and economic changes started. Fanoos.com


Protests by a few hundred people took place several times in late February in Qatif and al-Awamiyah and in Riyadh and Hofuf on 4 March. Several thousand security forces were sent to the north-east on 5 March. Theworldnewsmedia.org


From 9 March to 1 April, frequent protests of a few hundred to a few thousand people occurred in and around Qatif in the Eastern Province, calling for the release of prisoners and for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain, where it was sent against the 2011 Bahraini protests. Theworldnewsmedia.org


Reformers petitioned King Abdullah to establish an elected consultative assembly to replace the 120-member appointed Consultative Council Saudis inherited from King Fahd. Political organizers were jailed and some banned from travel to this day. Temasekreview.com


Inside Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia is wealthy, but most of its young population cannot find jobs in either the public or private sector. The expansion of its $430 billion economy has benefited a substantial section of the entrepreneurial elite - particularly those well connected with the ruling family - but has failed to produce jobs for thousands of college graduates every year. Temasekreview.com


Saudi Arabian Mufti Sheikh Yusof al-Ahmad warned that Saudi Arabia could face a revolution unless steps are taken to fight widespread unemployment and poverty. He criticized government spending as wasteful and called for supervision over public spending. Wlcentral.org


The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is 10.5% (official) or as much as 20% (unofficial) and parliament recently announced that 22% of the population live below the poverty line. Wlcentral.org

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