Arab Autocracies & U.S. Policy
Autocracy: concentrated power in the hands of a few. The U.S. is linked to a network of Arab autocracies led by sultans, emirs, and military dictators who are called “allies” and “partners.” Politics and economics make for strange bedfellows. Perhaps none is stranger than the one with the feudal regime of Saudi Arabia. The Washington/Riyadh axis goes back to 1945 when FDR met King Saud on a U.S. destroyer in the Suez Canal. The deal was struck. The U.S. would protect the Saud monarchy and in return, American corporations would have access to Saudi oilfields. In the decades since ties between the two countries have remained close. Today, the U.S. has been supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has resulted in almost 400,000 dead and millions hungry.
Interview by David Barsamian.
Recorded at the Middle East Studies Association annual conference.
Rami Khouri has reported on the Arab region for decades. He is a senior fellow with the Middle East Initiative at the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was the Founding Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut in 2006-14. He was Executive Editor of the Beirut Daily Star and before that Editor-in-Chief of The Jordan Times. His articles appear in major newspapers around the world.