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Riyad, Saudi Arabia
Politics and Economy:
Blood Money
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Saudi/U.S. Timeline

The desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of America's closest allies in the Arab world for more than 60 years. But allegations of the country's ties to terrorism are putting this friendship, founded on oil, in jeopardy.

Just this week, the Treasury Department sent an investigator to Europe to seek support from European governments in freezing the funds of wealthy Saudis and others accused of sponsoring terrorism.

Below is a brief timeline of Saudi - U.S. relations and links to help you learn more.

1932Abdel Aziz unifies areas under his control and establishes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with himself at the helm. The monarchy's legitimacy is based, in part, on an alliance with the family of the founder of the Wahhabi sect of Islam.
1933The United States and Saudi Arabia establish diplomatic relations.
1938King Abdel Aziz grants a concession to Standard Oil to explore in Saudia Arabia's eastern province. Oil is discovered the same year, and the joint enterprise become the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).
1944United States opens an embassy in Jeddah.
1945During World War II, the U.S. realizes the importance of Saudi oil. As a result, President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets with the Saudis to discuss an oil-for-security relationship.
1950Aramco and Saudi Arabia begin a 50-50 profit-sharing agreement.
1951The U.S. and the Saudis begin a formal mutual defense relationship. A U.S. military training mission is established in Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aids in its construction.
1953King Abdel Aziz dies and is succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Saud, who is soon forced to turn over most of government control to his half-brother, Faisal.
1960Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is established with Saudi Arabia as a founding member.
1963During the civil war in neighboring Yemen, Egyptian aircraft bomb targets inside Saudi territory. President Kennedy sends an F-100 squadron to Saudi Arabia in response.
1964Faisal become king and begins a modernization program.
1973Saudi Arabia and Aramco begin negotiations leading to Saudi control of the company by 1980.
1973Saudi Arabia leads an oil boycott by OPEC states in response to Western support of Israel. Oil prices quadruple.
1975King Faisal is assassinated. He is succeeded by Crown Prince Khalid.
1979As a result of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Saudi Arabia breaks relations with Egypt and begins seeking support from other Arab countries for economic sanctions against Egypt.
1980Saudi Arabia gains full control of Aramco, previously controlled by the U.S.
1980Saudi money, both from government funding and private charitable giving, supported the U.S.-backed Mujahadeen, Islamic Islamist soldiers fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
1982King Khalid dies of a heart attack and is succeeded by his brother, Crown Prince Fahd.
1990Iraq invades Kuwait. Saudi Arabia condemns the invasion and appeals to the U.S. to intervene.
1991Saudi Arabia contributes land and air forces to the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq during the Gulf War.
1994Osama Bin Laden is exiled from Saudi Arabia for his opposition to the Saudi royal regime, which he asserts is illegitimate.
1995King Fahd has a stroke; the day-to-day running of the country is entrusted to Crown Prince Abdullah.
1996Terrorist bombing at the Khobar Towers U.S. military complex near Dhahran kills 19 and wounds 300.
August, 2001Crown Prince Abdullah sends a letter to President Bush criticizing the U.S. position on Israeli-Palestinian violence.
September 11, 2001The World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington DC are targets of a terrorist attack. Of the 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers responsible for the attacks, 15 are found to have been Saudi citizens, allegedly operating under the direction of Osama Bin Laden.
January 2002While U.S. support for Israel continues to anger the Saudi government and populace, Crown Prince Abdullah maintains that Saudi-U.S. relations remain strong.
August 20, 2002An article in Britian's FINANCIAL TIMES reports that Saudi investors have pulled out more than $100 billion dollars from U.S. institutions.
More than 300 families of the victims of the September 11 attacks file a $1 trillion lawsuit against Saudi individuals, businesses, banks and charities.
2002The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations' Independent Task Force releases its October 17 report, "Terrorist Financing," alleging that the Saudi regime has continuously turned its back on Saudi charities and individuals that fund Al-Qaeda.

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations; Council on Foreign Relations Terrorism Q&A; THE ECONOMIST; FRONTLINE; U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Saudi Arabia; Library of Congress: Country Study Saudi Arabia; BBCNews; TIME Magazine

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