A close U.S. ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has informal links to terrorism, and many young Saudis have traveled abroad to take part in Islamic militancy across the Middle East. This paper examines how religious institutions, rather than religious beliefs, influence social norms, and therefore both foreign and domestic policy. It analyzes the effects on regional politics and the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The Saudi government under King Abdullah took many positive steps to separate itself from militant groups, but the problem is still clear in the flow of money and militants to Iraq and Syria today. It concludes with recommendations for the United States to continue to engage both diplomatically and culturally with Saudi Arabia in the wake of King Abdullah’s passing, to support the country’s positive moves and encourage progress through collaboration.
About the Author:
Adam Yefet is a master’s candidate in International Affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, focusing on international security and development. He received his B.A. in political science from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Photo taken by Medineli.