After the attacks of September 11, 2001, a 2004 Saudi royal study group recognized the exigency to reform educational material in Saudi Arabia's public school curriculum. The study found that the Saudi public education system advocates a problematic legacy in their religious curriculum that condones violence, repression, and intolerance. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, made public claims that the Saudi curriculum had been recently reviewed and revised to meet the needs of a more modern education. However, recent copies of Islamic Saudi textbooks that have been translated into English reveal a lack of modernization, which contradicts assertions of Saudi educational reform.
Council Senior Fellow and Director for Middle East and Gulf Studies Rachel Bronson reveals why the U.S.-Saudi partnership became so intimate and how the countries' shared interests sowed the seeds of today's most pressing problem -- Islamic radicalism.
Rachel Bronson, CFR’s top Middle East expert and author of a new book on Saudi-American relations, Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership With Saudi Arabia, says that she does not expect Saudi-American relations to approach the closeness of the Cold War years, when the two countries were allied against the spread of Communism. “We should expect it to be a rockier road, although I do expect the relationship to muddle through,” says Bronson, a senior fellow and director of Middle East and Gulf Studies at CFR.
Joseph McMillan argues in this USIP report that in the near future, U.S. and Saudi perspectives on Iraq will be quite similar with both countries tightly focused on restoring peace and order and preventing the propagation of terrorism. However, there is also ample room for divergence. Saudi Arabia values its ties to Washington, but its ability to cooperate with U.S. policy will be limited by regional and domestic pressures. Ensuring that Saudi Arabia is a force for stability in the Gulf rather than a source of disruption is a continuing challenge for U.S. diplomacy.
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