By Arab News
By Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud*
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.
No one even had any idea whether these two men, with seemingly little in common, would actually get along — the essential first step in any relationship between our two nations.
But they did…
They found common ground, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to bringing our nations together in a relationship that would transcend the bumps and difficulties of day-to-day political and diplomatic differences and challenges — both nations always able to keep in mind the big picture, the deep bonds between our nations, the vital importance of our alliance to regional and global security.
Our friendship has become critical to preserving global peace and stability and to fostering economic prosperity.
It is a partnership that would have our two nations work together, and fight together, to overcome common enemies and confront terrorism and extremism.
A partnership that would enable our two nations to strengthen international economic development and ensure the benefits of that development were widely and fairly shared.
A partnership that would stabilize global energy markets, as Saudi Arabia and the US cooperated to keep energy supplies safe and secure.
And it has been a strong relationship — one that has yielded extraordinary benefits for both nations and continues to do so.
In the 75 years since that meeting, the Saudi-US alliance has:
• Partnered to defeat communism;
• Ensured stable global energy markets;
• Reversed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait;
• Led a global campaign to eliminate Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Daesh);
• Coordinated counterterrorism efforts that have saved thousands of innocent lives;
• And delivered unprecedented economic development to the Arab world.
This is the legacy of King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt and their meeting 75 years ago…
A relationship between our two nations that remains strong…
A relationship that continues to be a force for prosperity and peace…
A partnership that ensures stability and security…
And a friendship that promotes dialogue and understanding.
• Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States