Saudi Arabia and the United States

Back to Diplomats and Diplomacy

Saudi Arabia and the United States: Birth of a Security Partnership

“. . . a seminal contribution to our understanding of the origins and sometimes bumpy evolution of the U.S.-Saudi relationship in the overall Middle East context [by] one of the diplomatic pioneers in that bilateral relationship.”
Hermann Fr. Eilts, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Egypt

As a Career Minister in the United States Foreign Service, Parker T. Hart was widely regarded as a consummate diplomatic professional, fluent in five languages and determined to know each host country in depth. One of the State Department’s most eminent authorities on the Middle East, at crucial junctures in the region’s tumultuous history he served as assistant secretary for Near East and South Asian affairs and ambassador to Turkey. (His 1990 book Two NATO Allies at the Threshold of War┬árecounted the successful U.S. efforts in 1967 to prevent war between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus.)

Hart’s three tours of duty in Saudi Arabia, the last as ambassador from 1961 to 1965, gave him a unique appreciation of that desert kingdom’s culture and people. Helping forge the critical U.S.-Saudi security partnership, a relationship that remains to this day a key aspect of U.S. diplomacy, engaged all his accumulated diplomatic skill.

Saudi Arabia and the United States, Hart’s scrupulously researched eyewitness account covering the period from the 1930s through the mid-1960s, includes much previously unpublished information on the origins of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the many controversies that arose, such as those over the construction and maintenance of Dhahran airfield. Hart provides many inside perspectives on the Saudi kings, including the deposing of Saud, the accession of Faisal, and Faisal’s consolidation of the Saudi nation. He reports in great depth on the Egyptian-Saudi hostilities sparked by the revolutionary war in the Yemen and on the US/UN intervention that thwarted Egyptian president Nasser’s designs on Saudi oil resources. He also analyzes other persistently sensitive issues, such as Middle East political turmoil and the security of the vast Saudi oil reserves.