Officials in Washington view Saudi Arabia as central to their regional policies in the Middle East. The truth is Saudi Arabia is considered a key variable for the larger part of US foreign policies. The strategic alliance between the two countries, a patron-client relationship, has caused all developments around Saudi Arabia, whether domestic or international, be implemented with green light from the US. In fact, whatever is being done as domestic political and economic reforms led by Mohammad Bin Salman and the fanatical ambitions of the Saudi crown prince for leadership in the region is taking place with Washington’s support. In plain language, backed by the US, Mohammad Bin Salman is trying to implement his domestic and regional plan to secure his shaky status among Saudi princes.
Perhaps the most important reason the US is has thrown its weight behind Mohammad Bin Salman and his regional strategies is the approach the crown prince has adopted against Iran. The revolutionary process adopted for modernization of Saudi Arabia and the emphasis on nationalism instead of the traditional identity rooted in Wahhabism during the dictated top-to-bottom reforms on the one hand and the aggressive foreign policies in the region ranging from invasion of Yemen, sanctions imposed on Qatar, and accusations against Iran on the other hand, has made the crown prince use all its resources and domestic and international potentials. One of the main end results is the transformation of US-Saudi ties into a strategic partnership in view of the scope and prospect of changes in economic, social, cultural, security, foreign and regional policy sectors.
Although US’ quick, positive response to Saudi developments can be basically assessed under Washington’s interests in economic, political, and regional issues, it is also critically remarkable from the Saudi point of view. Washington’s efforts are in line with its strategic policy to distance regional actors from Iran and isolate the country, which naturally results in pushing these countries toward Saudi Arabia and increasing the scope of Saudi engagement in the region. This in turn can help establish US plans and goals in the region. In other words, Saudi Arabia, as a strategic ally, has a remarkable role in implementing Washington’s security strategy and regional policies.
The methodical arrangement of US’ security strategy has eyes for presence in the Middle East more than ever. Middle East developments in recent years, like what happened in Syria, has diminished US influence in the region on the one hand but also gave boosts to Russia’s influence as an extra-regional power and Iran’s as a regional power. Since the two countries are viewed as enemies in Washington, the White House is concerned about their increased influence and its own declining influence in the future of the region.
The truth is Washington’s Middle East policy-makers are mainly focusing on controlling Iran and preventing the increasing influence of Moscow in the region. As a result, isolating Iran, helping Saudi Arabia to propagate beliefs aimed to confront Iran in the region, and creating serious barriers for the expansion of Iran’s regional policies are the principles of modern US strategy in the Middle East.
For the young and ambitious Mohammad bin Salman, overcoming domestic and foreign obstacles using help from Washington, the establishment of a successful image of him, the propagandist Iranophobia and strategic anti-Iranism are of remarkable value. For him, the Shia Iran, always a rival for Saudi supremacy in the region, is an ideal enemy not only to guarantee his current status as crown prince to control and manage domestic crises but also to realize his regional goals, including the establishment of mutual ties with the Zionist regime. Thus, through its highlighting of differences and conflicts with Iran, Saudi Arabia can provide assistance for the US to realize it goals in the region and significantly help the Saudi crown prince to play his role as a leader inside and outside the country.