The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's strategic importance is driven by two key factors: religion and petroleum. It is the location of Islam's two most important holy places and the scene of Islam's annual pilgrimage. It plays an important role in the lives of over 1.6 billion Muslims, of which only roughly 15 percent are Arab. At a time when religion is a critical factor in global politics, the fact that the King of Saudi Arabia is called the "custodian of the two mosques" is not merely a title. Saudi Arabia's moderate regime is a key player in limiting the growth of extremism and terrorism. Religion and oil, however, are only two aspects of Saudi security. The fall of Saddam Hussein, and the destruction of Iraq's conventional military forces, has left a power vacuum in the northern Gulf that Iran is actively seeking to exploit. Saudi Arabia is the only country that is large enough and strong enough to underpin any regional security structure in the southern Gulf. It is the one southern Gulf country that can provide strategic depth to the other, smaller southern Gulf States-- which are minutes or seconds of flight time from Iran, and whose forces are far too small to defend themselves by acting alone.
Key issues addressed : 1) Saudi Arabia defense policies and key threats; 2) Past, current and future state of the forces shaping security policy and defense trends and needs of Saudi Arabia; 3) Political influences on Saudi Arabia defense decisions and reactions; 4) Defense policy decision-making process in Saudi Arabia; and 5) US engagement with the Saudi Arabia defense departments and adjunct government organizations.
Comprehensive and unique information with professional analysis of Saudi Arabia - its politics and history, economic, social, military, and national security systems and institutions, written by the experts at the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. This Country Study and Country Profile is an exceptional review of Saudi Arabia, its history, and nearby states. Books in the Country Studies series describe and analyze "political, economic, social, and national security systems and institutions, and examin[e] the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors. The authors seek to provide a basic understanding of the observed society, striving for a dynamic rather than a static portrayal. Particular attention is devoted to the people who make up the society, their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their common interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature and extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their attitudes toward each other and toward their social system and political order."
This paper focuses on the development of US national security policies toward Iran and Saudi Arabia, in the framework of the strategic and economic significance of the Persian Gulf area and touches upon the changing context of US policy in the area as a result of events in the early 1970's.
Terrorism: Commentary on Security Documents is a series that provides primary source documents and expert commentary on the worldwide counter-terrorism effort. Among the documents collected are transcripts of Congressional testimony, reports by such federal government bodies as the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and case law covering issues related to terrorism. Most volumes carry a single theme, and inside each volume the documents appear within topic-based categories. The series also includes a subject index and other indices that guide the user through this complex area of the law. Volume 123, Global Stability and U.S. National Security, includes documents that illuminate instability concerns in key regions of the world and offer insights into how the lack of stability negatively affects U.S. interests, as well as the interests of other nations. The documents selected by Douglas Lovelace include primarily studies of instability concerns in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a document providing a general assessment of global stability and reports on Southeast and Central Asia and Latin America.
With the continuing importance of Saudi Arabia in regional and world politics, the current and future effectiveness of the Saudi military carries increased significance. Despite recent strains in relations with the U.S., particularly in light of the role Saudis played in the events of September 11, 2001, the Kingdom remains America's key Arab ally. Cordesman studies the challenges faced by the Saudis from both their allies and their potential enemies to assess Saudi Arabia's ability to forge a better approach to collective security in the Gulf and to create more stable long-term security arrangements with the U.S. and other Western Powers. This assessment of Saudi Arabia's strategic position includes a full-scale analysis of Saudi military forces, defense expenditures, arms imports, military modernization, readiness and war fighting capability. It examines both the cooperation and tension with other Southern Gulf States. It explores the implications of the conventional military build-up and creeping proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Gulf and the resulting changes in Saudi Arabia's security position. All of these factors have critical implications for stability within the Kingdom, within the Gulf, as well as in the broader global context.