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Saudi Arabia, US make a new start   

Khaleej Times - 21 March, 2017

Even though the political positions of the new US administration have been positive and in compliance with the stances of its Gulf allies, the visit of the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince to the US has reformed the strategic alliance between Riyadh and Washington.

We could even say that the broad headline of the visit represents a turning point in the history of the relations of the two countries. It also marks a return of relations back on its natural and right track, as it has been for 80 years.

During the presidency of former President Barack Obama, US and Saudi relations were off-track. This visit revealed that there is an actual, tangible and drastic change in the US positions.

US policy is now closer to its allies and stronger against its opponents, like Iran.

It is true that the Trump administration started off as more open and honest regarding main issues of the world. It is true also that this administration is "playing out in the open" as one might say, without entering into diplomatic mazes like the previous one.

Yet, history reminds us that the Saudi-US alliance has never really been truly jeopardised except during Obama's term.

Even during the toughest crisis both countries had to face, meaning the attacks of September 11, President George W. Bush's administration was able to contain the situation and make sure it did not affect the depth of ties between the two countries.

Recently the new administration brought matters back on track, especially since it recognises Riyadh's patience in maintaining the common interests of both countries despite all the negative pressure exerted by the previous administration on its allies.

During his visit to the US, Prince Mohammed bin Salman informed officials of Saudi Arabia's new approach towards change and its ambitious economic and social reform plan.

No doubt Riyadh wants Washington to support the gradual reform and encourage it rather than rush it, which does not do anyone good.

It is important to point out the harmony between Riyadh and Washington on the most complicated regional cases, whether standing up to the expansionist aspirations of Iran and its role in destabilising the region, or waging the war on terrorism and extremists' groups, or supporting the growth of international economy.

The difference is that Saudi Arabia has always had the same position on these cases, but the previous US administration changed its policy. This caused frustration among countries that are allied with the United States. It was clear that certain parties inside the White House did not fully appreciate the relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

The message of the White House after the Saudi-US meeting was clear. The high-level Saudi visit was productive on all aspects, including military, security, political, and economic areas and it proved that both countries are heading towards fixing the issues that temporarily affected their strong coalition.

It suffices for the US government, and other governments of the world, to remember that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has for 100 years been the only stable country in the Middle East.
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