AGSIW Executive Vice President Ambassador Stephen A. Seche spoke at an event hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy, “Saudi Arabia’s Regional Role and the Future of U.S.-Saudi Relations,” on April 6 at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
During the panel, Seche noted a fundamental redefinition of U.S.-Saudi relations; long based on the premise of oil for security, the relationship is changing primarily due to the oil slump that Saudi Arabia is facing and the Iran deal. With the changes in the Saudi economy, Seche noted the state will no longer be able to heavily subsidize education, health care, and other goods, which will lead to an evolution of the notion of Saudi citizenship, as citizens will soon be required to become more productive in contributing to the economy. As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to visit the kingdom in late April, Seche asserted that the U.S. cannot turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, especially in Yemen, and that the next administration will need to be candid with the Saudi government and be ready to point out deficiencies.
Through its careful examination of the forces shaping the evolution of Gulf societies and the new generation of emerging leaders, AGSIW facilitates a richer understanding of the role the countries in this key geostrategic region can be expected to play in the 21st century.