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Balaji DK asked: What could be the impact of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan on the US-Saudi Arabia relationship?

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  • Rumel Dahiya replies: There would be no direct impact on the US-Saudi Arabia relationship simply because the issue of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan is not central to the relationship. Broadly, US presence in the region has been viewed by Saudi Arabia approvingly. US has been seen as a balancer and security provider to the monarchies in the Gulf and a bulwark against Iranian hegemony after the 1979 revolution. 9/11 attacks wrong footed the Saudis since many of those involved in planning, financing and executing the attacks were Saudi nationals. It did not help that the Taliban regime was recognised and supported by the Saudis at that time. The latter made amends subsequently and supported US in its Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), but US has not been comfortable with Saudi assertiveness in the region and taking American support for granted since that limits US options. Now the issues troubling the Saudis are thawing of the US-Iran relations and US disinclination to get directly involved in local conflicts in West Asia; particularly in Syria. US withdrawal from Afghanistan has its own logic and will impact different players differently. The way the withdrawal strengthens or weakens Iran's or to an extent Pakistan's position, may have a marginal and indirect impact on the US-Saudi relationship but nothing more than that.

    Posted on April 11, 2014

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