Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
For the past couple of months, many regional and global analysts had been looking forward to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s visit to Washington. They were expecting to see him during the Camp David summit, which was held between US President Barack Obama and leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). King Salman’s absence at the summit added to the eagerness of people to see the Saudi king in the American capital. This is not going to be the first meeting between King Salman and President Obama. The two leaders have met more than once during US president’s visits to the Kingdom. However, it would be King Salman’s first official visit to Washington since he ascended the throne. Political pundits and policymakers are keenly observing the developments with bated breath due to the timings of the visit. In the wake of recent geopolitical developments, the meeting between two of the most influential leaders of the world has assumed great importance, as it will have a far-reaching impact not only on the ties between the two countries but also on the entire region. The global media has already swung into action and started churning out reports and analyses about this visit. Many analysts have already started predicting agenda of this high-level meeting. As mentioned above, the current situation of the Middle East has increased the importance of this meeting manifold. The recent geopolitical developments are all set to change the dynamics of the region. Most important among those developments is the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the West. The deal has raised many suspicions in the Arab world. Due to the likely consequences of a final deal between Iran and the West, people are speculating that this issue might be on the meeting’s agenda. Other issues that many observers are talking or writing about is the so-called Arab Spring, which is getting worse with the passage of time — the situation in Syria and Libya is getting aggravated and Iraq is becoming a cauldron of chaos. Recently, Saudi intelligence forces arrested the terrorist behind the attack on a residential building in Alkhobar around two decades ago. In that terrorist attack, many Americans lost their lives. In short, most of the analyses appearing in various media outlets are only focusing on the visit in the context of the current regional scenario. They are, somehow, ignoring the most important aspect of the visit that is a gesture to further strengthen the already strong and strategic alliance between Riyadh and Washington. King Salman will be leading a high-level delegation comprising key ministers and top government officials, which is a sign that a wide range of issues are on the meeting’s agenda. It is expected that the meeting will help resolve several issues that are not only threatening the Middle East but also the entire world. Terrorism is spreading its ugly tentacles across the world and is fast turning into a global threat. Riyadh and Washington can work together to eradicate this menace. An unprecedented human tragedy is unfolding in Syria. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Riyadh’s stance has remained the same. Now, most political pundits are realizing that the Saudi position toward Assad’s regime is the only logical way to end the crisis. The crises in Libya, Iraq and Yemen are also important issues that need immediate global attention. The world is looking at the king’s visit as an important means to help achieve regional and global peace. Saudi Arabia and the United States have always been on the same page regarding many issues and the relations between the two countries are not only of political nature. The two sides enjoy deep economic and social ties. Saudi Arabia is America’s number one trading partner in the Middle East. There are tens of thousands of Saudi young men and women studying in top American schools and this is strengthening the relation not only between the two governments but also between the people of these two countries. The Saudi- American relations, which started in a very unique way in the early 1930s, continue to grow stronger with every passing day. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. All Eyes on Washington reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.