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U.S.-Saudi Arabia Relationship Changes With The Times

Originally published on June 19, 2011 9:47 am
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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

Thank you for being with us.

AARON DAVID MILLER: Appreciate it.

LYDEN: First of all, please explain why Saudi Arabia hasn't seen the kinds of large-scale protests that have swept across other Arab countries.

DAVID MILLER: I mean it really is an anomaly. It's driven in large part by a couple of factors. Number One: tremendous oil wealth; and economy of scale which allows the Saudi's to address the material needs of most of their citizens. Different relationship, too, between the Saudi public and the king - much more respect for King Abdullah. And finally, there's the basic reality that the monarchies - not just in Saudi Arabia, but in Jordan and in Morocco - seem to be faring a lot better than the republics.

LYDEN: What is the nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as that change begins to occur.

LYDEN: Well, let me ask you about that. You say and have written that U.S. support for Democratic change means that we - meaning the U.S. - have become a source of insecurity for Saudi Arabia. Now, this has been a longstanding relationship. Could you explain?

DAVID MILLER: I don't think, frankly, they trust us anymore. At the same time, I think the relationship is simply too big to fail, and that both sides will try to manage it.

LYDEN: What would a new relationship look like? Surely, it will still have to involve American dependence on Saudi oil.

DAVID MILLER: So, as I mentioned earlier, I think there are tensions. The tensions are more acute now than at any point in the relationship between these two countries. But I think both sides will have an important interest in trying to accommodate those tensions, and to preserve their relationship.

LYDEN: Aaron David Miller is a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here in Washington. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

DAVID MILLER: Appreciate it.

LYDEN: You are listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.