Seventy-five years ago, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to begin planning Europe’s recovery from World War II.
Following the Yalta Conference, President Roosevelt didn’t immediately begin his weeks-long return to the US; instead, he scheduled one additional stop.
A meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal.
It would be the first and only meeting of these two historic influential leaders.
King Abdul Aziz, modern Saudi Arabia’s founder and first king, was a battlefield warrior, who as a young man expanded and unified the Kingdom.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, victor of four US presidential elections and author of the transformational New Deal, guided the US through two of the 20th century’s principal crises — the Great Depression and World War II.
It was a turning point in world history. King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt both understood that what was at stake was far more than just the immediate recovery of post-war Europe and Germany.
These two leaders saw this as the time for new alliances and partnerships that would expand existing bilateral relationships, forge new economic ties and create new international institutions that would be essential for global peace and security.
Both leaders recognized that establishing a sustained and lasting global stability would require new international bonds — and that if the US and Saudi Arabia were to help develop this new approach to global, collective security — both leaders and both nations would need to look beyond their own provincial interests.
As it would turn out, what was good for both nations, was also good for the world.
The king and the president saw that a groundbreaking partnership between Saudi Arabia and the US would both transform the region and diplomatically reshape the world.
Saudi Arabia would become the US’ first ally in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia chose the US as its first international ally — a move that would truly recalibrate the balance of global power in the region — not just immediately, but for decades to come.
The Saudi-US partnership became — and still remains — a cornerstone of global security and stability.
But when King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt met, nothing about the meeting between these two men was guaranteed.
The mere convening of the meeting itself was dangerous.
The war was not yet over. Read More