Foreign relations of Saudi ArabiaSaudi foreign policy objectives are to maintain its security and its paramount position on the Arabian Peninsula, defend general Arab and Islamic interests, promote solidarity among Islamic governments, and maintain cooperative relations with other oil-producing and major oil-consuming countries.
Saudi Arabia signed the UN Charter in 1945. The country plays a prominent and constructive role in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and Arab and Islamic financial and development assistance institutions. One of the largest aid donors in the world, it still gives some aid to a number of Arab, African, and Asian countries. Jeddah is the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its subsidiary organization, the Islamic Development Bank, founded in 1969.
Membership in the 11-member OPEC and in the technically and economically oriented Arab producer group--the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries--facilitates coordination of Saudi oil policies with other oil-exporting governments. As the world's leading exporter of petroleum, Saudi Arabia has a special interest in preserving a stable and long-term market for its vast oil resources by allying itself with healthy Western economies which can protect the value of Saudi financial assets. It generally has acted to stabilize the world oil market and tried to moderate sharp price movements.
The Saudi Government frequently helps mediate regional crises and support the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. A charter member of the Arab League, Saudi Arabia supports the position that Israel must withdraw from the territories which it occupied in June 1967, as according to United Nations Resolution 242. Saudi Arabia supports a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict but rejected the Camp David accords, claiming that they would be unable to achieve a comprehensive political solution that would ensure Palestinian rights and adequately address the status of Jerusalem. Although Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with and suspended aid to Egypt in the wake of Camp David, the two countries renewed formal ties in 1987.
In 1990-91, Saudi Arabia played an important role in the Gulf War, developing new allies and improving existing relationships between Saudi Arabia and some other countries. However, there also were diplomatic and financial costs. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya deteriorated. Each country had remained silent following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait but called for an end to violence once the deployment of coalition troops began. Relations between these countries and Saudi Arabia have returned to their pre-war status. Saudi Arabia's relations with those countries which expressed support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait--Yemen, Jordan, and Sudan--were severely strained during and immediately after the war. For example, several hundred thousand Yemenis were expelled from Saudi Arabia after the Government of Yemen announced its position, thus exacerbating an existing border dispute. Saudi-Yemeni relations, especially in the wake of the 1994 Yemen civil war, remain fragile and of significant concern to the Saudi Government. The Palestine Liberation Organization's support for Iraq cost it financial aid as well as good relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Recently, though, Saudi Arabia's relations with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have improved, with the Saudi Government providing assistance for Palestinian Authority.
During and after the Gulf War, the Government of Saudi Arabia provided water, food, shelter, and fuel for coalition forces in the region. There also were monetary payments to some coalition partners. Saudi Arabia's combined costs in payments, foregone revenues, and donated supplies were $55 billion. More than $15 billion went toward reimbursing the United States alone.
Saudi Arabia became one of three countries to offer the Taliban diplomatic recognition in 1997. Saudi aid flowed to the Taliban, including logistical and humanitarian support during its rise to power and a continued commitment afterward. An estimated $2 million came each year from Saudi Arabia's major charity, funding two universities and six health clinics and supporting 4,000 orphans; King Fahd sent an annual shipment of dates as a gift.
Disputes - international: large section of boundary with Yemen not defined; location and status of boundary with United Arab Emirates is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974 agreement; Kuwaiti ownership of Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands is disputed by Saudi Arabia; June 1999 agreement has furthered the goal of definitively establishing the border with Qatar
Many nations have expressed concern about human rights abuses in the country, including abuse of prisoners and incommunicado detention; prohibitions or severe restrictions on the freedoms of speech, press, peaceful assembly and association, and religion; denial of the right of citizens to change their government; systematic discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities; and suppression of workers' rights.
- See also : Saudi Arabia