Friend or Foe?


It is commonly reported that Saudi Arabia is supportive of the United States in the Middle East—even displaying unprecedented cooperativeness. Following a Saudi raid on al-Qaeda suspects in September, a U.S. diplomat in the country stated that the incident was proof of the high level of cooperation between the two countries, adding the comment that Saudi collaboration had increased in the last several months.

But just how deep is the Saudis’ support? How sincere is their cooperation? Are they really on America’s side?

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s leading producers of oil, holding a position of influence within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (opec). With Iraq once again beginning to produce a steady flow of oil, currently at 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) and expected to rise, Saudi Arabia perceives a threat to its dominance in this arena.

The leverage Saudi Arabia possesses in opec hinges on its “spare capacity” of oil —about 2 million bpd of spare production capacity that it could use to glut the market, collapse prices and force others out of the export market—which, the Near East Report stated, the Saudis “have demonstrated time and again their readiness to use” (Sept. 8). Foreign Affairs explained the strategic value of this in its March/April 2002 issue: “Saudi spare capacity is the energy equivalent of nuclear weapons, a powerful deterrent against those who try to challenge Saudi leadership and Saudi goals.”

The problem for Saudi Arabia is, if Iraq—with U.S. assistance—increases its oil production enough, the Saudis will lose their ability to control the oil market. With the lowest production costs in the world, Iraq has the capacity to potentially come out the better in any price war. Not since 1979, when it pumped 3.1 million bpd, has Iraq had high, stable levels of oil production. War and sanctions have prevented Iraq from being a significant player in the market for more than two decades. But now, the U.S. is changing all that—and Saudi Arabia is not happy.

Thus, while outwardly friendly toward America, the Saudi government is actually attempting to undermine U.S. efforts, hoping to chase America off. The Near East Report explained, “Though the Saudi government often claims to be a close ally to the United States, its actions indicate this outcome is precisely what it is hoping for. It has not lifted a finger to seal the border to block the surge of jihadists to Iraq, and certainly has done nothing to help rebuild Iraq’s vital oil industry” (op. cit.).

Just how far are the Saudis prepared to go to counterbalance the U.S.? Consider the fact that they are now seeking help from Russia. In September, Crown Prince Abdullah, the Saudi leader, talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow “in hopes of influencing Moscow’s oil exports and controlling U.S. involvement in the Middle East. … Almost since the founding of the Arab state, Moscow and Riyadh have viewed each other as enemies, but now, Riyadh’s deteriorating ties with Washington are forcing it to seek other allies” (, Sept. 2). While any significant success in the venture is doubtful, this move clearly illustrates that Saudi Arabia is not the friend of the U.S. it may pretend to be.

What is more, Bible prophecy reveals that Saudi Arabia will be part of a future alliance that will have as its goal the destruction of America. Psalm 83 states, “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee” (vv. 4-5). This is talking about a future alliance that will form against “Israel”—or, the modern nations of Israel, particularly the U.S., Britain and the Israel of the Middle East. Which nations will be included in this hostile alliance? The “Ishmaelites” of verse 6 are the forebears of the people of Saudi Arabia (as taught at Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong). Here is a prophecy that Saudi Arabia will join with other nations to one day attack America.

We can see that Saudi Arabia’s duplicity, and its smoldering resentment of the U.S., is but a precursor to a much more overt hostility toward America.