AbstractIntroduction We live in a world today that has been shaped, and molded greatly by the outcomes of conflict throughout history. Many of these early conflicts were based on some of the same principles that we are still seeing in the world today; such as, religion, land, and wealth. The idea that the United States a primarily Christian nation now has a new adversary in the world rising up in the form of Muslim nations, and Muslim based groups is false. For over 200 years from 1095-1291 a series of “holy wars” broke out referred to as the “Crusades”, where people from all over European nations went to battle with Muslim people from Asia Minor and the Levant. There has been a divide between Christian and Muslim nations for hundreds of years with numerous negative outcomes(Timeline for the Crusades and Christian Holy War to c.1350). The United States has been involved in conflict since its founding throughout different time periods. As a nation we discovered very quickly the effectiveness of allies during these times of bloodshed with the U.S. having effective involvement in World War I. While many Middle Eastern countries stayed neutral during the two world wars, it would not take long for the United States to attempt to gain the trust of a Middle Eastern nation. Since 1933 during the break between World War I and World War II the United States had established democratic relations with Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia). By the year 1945 more robust relations between the two nations had begun to take off. In 1950 with the goal of obtaining national security objectives and combatting the spread of communism the United States administration began to consider the Saudi Arabia monarchy as an ally against nationalist and socialist governments in the Middle East. As time has went on the relationship has grown and has had a large impact on both nations and their citizens in numerous ways. I would like to address the benefits that Saudi Arabia brings to the United States in terms of an alliance that provides security and why it has worked in the past. I also would like to address some of the reasons that the relationship is controversial. An important reality to consider also, is the idea that armament sales to Saudi Arabia could potentially be used against the United States if we enter further conflict in the Middle East. A large driving factor for both nations today is the economic impact/dependency these two countries have for one another. Lastly this paper is going to discuss what factors could affect the relationship moving forward. In my research I have found countless scholarly articles as well as government publications filled with information in regards to this alliance. What I hope to accomplish is to educate readers and bring to light the complexities of foreign relations and the impact that it has on our country. Literature ReviewBenefits Saudi Arabia Provides the United States Security The United States and Saudi Arabia have found ways to benefit one another since the times of the Soviet Union and throughout the cold war. They have continued to back one another as time as carried on. While throughout that course there has been times of high tension between these two nations, the relations that are carried out today are critical despite differences from the past and some that are still on going. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center led to a major examination of the relationship and ultimately paved the way for the relationship we are seeing today. Furthermore, in 2003 Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) launched an array of attacks against Saudi Arabia ultimately ending with the United States providing support to Saudi in the conflict. Since, Saudi Arabia has risen up as a vital partner in the war on terrorism (Byman). Prior to the conflict with AQAP, Saudi Arabia had been deemed uncooperative in their efforts to stop terrorism. An important thing to understand is that the relationship we have today is at its best it has been throughout history. It has achieved the level it is at not by finding common understanding, but by common interests. While I believe it should be more known to the public, Saudi Arabia has become one of the key partners in the war on terrorism to the extent of the United States has a separate advisory mission to the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Earlier this year, The U.S. and Saudi Arabia committed to a historic agreement that has established the “Terrorist Financing Targeting Center” (TFTC) (U.S. Mission Saudi Arabia). This center will utilize and enhance existing tools as well as create a more beneficial work environment to counter terror networks. The TFTC is also going to be utilized by offering support to countries in the region that need assistance in the capacity of countering terrorism. (U.S. Mission Saudi Arabia). One of the major driving forces in terms of what Saudi Arabia can provide is its geographical location. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a large influence on the regional stability not only for itself, but surrounding nations. While Saudi, and U.S. may take different stances on some topics such as the Israel and Palestine conflict, Saudi has made efforts to counter groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups. They are able to counter such groups due to its location. The location of Saudi Arabia has also allowed for the implementation of U.S. military forces to integrate air and missile defense systems, increase maritime security, and while the U.S. military withdrew from Saudi Arabia in 2003, there has been continual training for U.S. special operations forces within the country. While the United States does have four other countries in which we consider allies, Saudi Arabia provides a proven reliability throughout time as a viable ally. Through a world that is evolving, and a relationship that has showed more sustained effort in recent years it is clear that Saudi Arabia provides the United States with enhanced security measures to combat the war on terror. Reasons Why the Alliance Is Controversial While so far the rhetoric has been positive on the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, there has been controversy surrounding this topic. Some of the controversy stems from Saudi Arabia being a Muslim nation that is under sharia law (Ochsenwald) Sharia law is both a civil and justice system that regulates conduct for both personal and moral values (duhaime law). Thus being said there has been some laws passed and regulations enacted for certain broadly defined offenses with criminal penalty. Saudi Arabia has also been known to have harsh punishments unlike anything seen in the western world where offenses such as theft could lead to amputation of limbs, lashings, and children have even been tried for capital offenses as adults if there was a physical sign of puberty (Byman). Initially, when 9/11 occurred and the information surfaced about fifteen of the nineteen hijackers being Saudi born animosity began to form. With Saudi Arabia being known as the “birthplace of Islam” as well as it being home to the two holiest shrines Mecca, and Medina (U.S.-Saudi Relations). This has been a long standing topic of discussion due to the massive pilgrimages yearly. The issue lies in the fact that Saudi Arabia has the potential to become a radicalization hot bed with a past of producing members of terroristic groups with the most well-known being the worlds former most wanted man in Osama Bin Laden (U.S.-Saudi Relations). While the monarchy which has been in place and been in control of the government has not been found to have provided money to terrorist organizations, Saudi is a wealthy country and it has been made known that money has been moved to aid terrorist organizations. As former senior CIA official Bruce Riedel contends, “Saudi sources remain major funders of groups like the Afghan Taliban and Lashkare Taiba in Pakistan. Some accounts suggest Saudi money has gone to alQaida’s affiliate in Syria, the alNusra Front” (Byman). It is worth noting that while Saudi has made vast improvements as a nation to fight terrorism, it is also home to many influential people in the Muslim world, many of which condemn the United States. It is difficult to assess how much terrorism has been funded through Saudi Arabia however, whereas with a state sponsor such as Iran it is a cut and dry ordeal where they openly discuss being sponsors of terroristic groups. Sharia law also takes views on women that aren’t accepted in western society which has led to Saudi nationals being dissatisfied with the United States and their hopes of influencing their nation to be more western (Hamdan). On the topic of how women are treated in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it can be eye opening for someone from the western world to imagine the restricted lifestyle they live. To begin, women do not have access to the same types of educational opportunities men have. Around thirty-four percent of men teaching at men’s universities hold doctorates degrees whereas in a women’s university only about three percent of professors hold doctorates (Hamdan,). Women are also limited in their ability to participate in political processes; however, in recent years this area of equal rights has made improvements. As of 2015, women were allowed to campaign and run for seats within the municipal councils (Byman,). Women of Saudi Arabia really are second class citizens and will continue to be treated as such unless with time greater western influence can persuade change. Other recent events that have contributed to the controversy surrounding the relationship between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the violations of international humanitarian law. Saudi has launched airstrikes into Yemen killing 4,125 civilians and wounding over 7,000 others. Human Rights Watch has documented over fifty unlawful airstrikes that could possibly be classified as war crimes. These airstrikes targeted homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, and public markets all filled with civilian targets. While this list of controversies covers a wide range of different topics I believe it is important to realize that the United States is backing a nation that participates in a wide range of different behaviors that would more than likely be condemned by people in our own country. While the relationship has bolstered enhanced security it is important to realize that negatives do come with this relationship and they are negatives that have received global attention. While I feel the U.S. public is highly unaware of the types of events occurring outside of the United States. It is important to realize that not just terrorist groups, and radicalist practice sharia law. A U.S. ally has committed humanitarian crimes and possibly war crimes with very little publicity in the U.S.The Impact Arms Deals Have on U.S. Economy and Politics Throughout the last three administrations we have had in the United States, with two of those falling under Barack Obama, and the current one Donald Trump we have seen a skyrocket in military equipment sales to our Middle Eastern ally. Earlier this year when president Trump returned from the kingdom he announced that there would be $110 billion in arms sales, with an addiction $240 billion committed over the next ten years (Exum). Arms sales, like much other politically driven initiatives are complex, and administrations have been tapping into these sources for a multitude of reasons. I would like to highlight some of the positives of arms sales to countries in the Middle East as well as negatives to try and provide an understanding of why sales are continuing to grow and what the possible consequences could be. While a $110 billion sale may seem staggering especially with as little time as president Trump had in office at the time, many of the details for this sale was already in the works when he took office. Over the eight years president Obama was in office he had sold $115 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia including ammunition, tanks, and fighter aircrafts (Ward). Why is this important to U.S. citizens? The global arms market is a large driving factor for our economy and it also has an influence on the future elections for presidency in our own country. In saying this I want to focus on how it affects the United States at home and abroad. In the United States there are roughly 1.2 million American voters who work in the aerospace and defense sector along with 3.2 million Americans who support the sector indirectly with the arms deals providing them their source of income. Boeing for example, is the manufacturer of the F-15 and F-18 combat aircraft alone employs 157,000 people with nearly all of them being located in the United States (Exum). The men and women that are a part of the aerospace and defense sector are counting on our president for continued employment to sustain their lives. When election time comes the amount of people whom take part in this type of arms, and military equipment production can have an impact on the way the election pans out. The working class voters in general have been known to be in support of global arms sales if not morally, for their own betterment in their everyday life (Exum). The sales of arms also drive down the cost of our own military equipment. This decreases the money spent by tax payers on defense, and the tax money can be used for other resources. For those aware of this, it could also be leveraged again for political gain of potential presidential candidates for the United States (Exum). The global market is also why the U.S. continues to supply Saudi Arabia and other gulf states with equipment. The selling of arms could be done by other countries; but, the United States has used arms deals to build further ties and increase cooperation for U.S. interests. Selling arms to Saudi has also increased a sense of cohesion between the two nations (Exum). If the United States were to abolish the arms deals Saudi Arabia would not just cease to purchase arms, in the past the U.S. had put restrictions on the sales of drone technology and the kingdom turned to China in an attempt to gain drone technology(Exum). If the U.S. continues to arm Saudi Arabia it has the potential to continue to provide welcomed positives to our country. Bloomberg reports that”the kingdom is considering investing around $40 billion in US infrastructure.” Trump wants to spend $1 trillion on improving American infrastructure, and the Saudi money would certainly help achieve that goal (Ward).The Need for U.S. Equipment to Remain Secured For a topic that is being described of high importance, there isn’t much media coverage surrounding the topic of arms sales and the impact that they could have. As discussed earlier arms sales are vital to our nation but what happens when those materials fall into the wrong hands. One factor that to consider is that while selling armaments have numerous positives, people are not convinced that we as a country who has been at war with Middle Eastern states should be arming others that are within close range of our own conflict. The fear that if the United States were to invade the gulf again, we could be fighting against enemy forces using United States equipment. The point that I am attempting to get across is the potential for armaments to fall into the hands of terrorist organizations or state actors that have ill intent against the United States and its interests. When the United States had made its exit in Baghdad in an attempt to rebuild the Iraqi forces, the U.S. donated and then pushed Baghdad to purchase billions of dollars of United States military equipment. The idea at the time was similar to what we see with Saudi Arabia now. The U.S. sought to make better interoperability and increase security in the Middle East. In 2014, when the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) came into northwest Iraq they over ran the Iraqi army and seized the equipment that had been purchased, or left behind. ISIS had acquired at least one M-1 tank valued at $4 million dollars. There has been videos publicized online also of Hezbollah another terrorist organization that opposes the United States in operation of an M-1 tank. The ongoing trend has been that weaponry sent to Gulf nations ends up in the hands of those who directly oppose the United States. Saudi Arabia and the United States are at a point in their alliance where stability and growth have both been attained, but if tempers flare and for some reason the alliance is broken we have outfitted them with some of our best military technology. The amount of military firepower they possess could not only pose a risk to the U.S. if we were to enter a war with them, but also defectors of the Saudi military with access to the equipment or a terrorist organization if they could over run a Saudi outpost and gain access to these materials. The potential for negative effects in terms of outfitting our allies has not proven wise throughout time.