Author: Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Al Saud family since its founding in 1932, wields significant global influence through its administration of the birthplace of the Islamic faith and by virtue of its large oil reserves. Close U.S.-Saudi official relations have survived a series of challenges since the 1940s. In recent years, shared concerns over Sunni Islamist extremist terrorism and Iranian government policies have provided a renewed logic for continued strategic cooperation. Political upheaval and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa appear to have strained bilateral ties, but the full effect has yet to be determined.