Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as an example of complex interdependence

Simply put, America is reliant on continued Saudi output of oil and Saudi Arabia is reliant on American dollars. For America, Saudi Arabia is a key regional ally; the Saudis rely on American security and weapons. Decisions made against this interdependence would affect the two countries in ‘costly ways’.

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Paul L McCord Jr)

Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state, but is bound in its support of an independent Palestinian state. It retains no diplomatic relations with Israel – America’s other principal ally in the region. It can do little more than make proposals on the matter – even being forced to drop its boycott of Israeli goods.
America is an important supporter of human rights and democracy, but criticisms of Saudi Arabia are rare. This is despite it not only being one of the most repressive and authoritarian regimes in the world, but also intervening in other countries such as Bahrain to control protesters against a similarly authoritarian government.
Multiple channels connect the two countries but mostly through economic and security concerns. Saudi Arabia has, since 2000, spent over $100 million on lobbying groups in the US according to the FARA database. There are also numerous non-state actors such as the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council.
Issues have had varied importance, and though oil has been a dominant force in the relations, security concerns have often been briefly prioritised for both countries. Such examples include the current Syria crisis (where Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni population), the on-going ‘War on Terror’, and Saudi need for American arms and weapons. Worth mentioning too, is the historical presence of US troops within Saudi Arabia.

Russian Foreign Relations: Norway

Historically, relations between the Soviet Union (of which Russia was a ‘successor state’) and Norway were at times more than cold. Territorial and environmental disputes, as well as a high-profile treason case all contributed to an uncooperative relationship. Tensions meant that the Soviet Union and Norway generally kept a distance.

Whilst there are still longstanding issues today, many of the issues inhibiting cooperation and a closer relationship have been resolved.

Foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov (L) of Russia and Jonas Gahr Store (R) of Norway

Foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov (L) of Russia and Jonas Gahr Store (R) of Norway

As Political Deficit has stated on more than one occasion ( 1 , 2 , etc.) , Putin and Russia are not uncompromising ideologues as they are at times painted to be – but firm pragmatists (or realists in IR terms). As Mark Adomanis of Forbes said:

Putin cares about the bottom line … if you look at how he’s actually conducted foreign policy it’s surprisingly defensive and reactive. More than that, he’s actually been pretty effective.

In short, modern Russian relations should be good with Norway as long as Norway doesn’t threaten Russian power – economic or otherwise. This works as a theory, and in real life.

In 2006, Norway was said to want an equidistant border between the two countries – following a ‘median line principle’. This was its stance since at least the 1970s, something that fell on deaf ears with the Soviets. Finally, in April 2010, a deal was made following over four decades of disagreement . Lavrov remarked that the treaty:

opens way for broader cooperation of our countries in the energy sphere. Besides oil and gas searching, now, there will be possibilities of cooperation in other spheres, including navigation and transport.”

United Press International reported that Putin would personally prefer Norwegian companies to other companies to work in Russia. This marks a positive view of Norway within Russia as a professional and wealthy country to do business with. The Russian military is also keen to partake in exercises with its Norwegian counterpart – something unthinkable a few decades ago.

As a conclusion, , Russia’s resurgence and non-confrontational leadership has enabled it to make stronger connections across Europe and solve the problems it faces in countries such as Norway with relative ease.

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