In addition to being Valentine’s Day, February 14 is also the anniversary of the arrival of Saudi King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud aboard the heavy cruiser USS Quincy in 1945 for a meeting with US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR was returning from the Yalta Conference–technically he was sailing home from Malta, having flown from there to Yalta (because they rhyme? honestly I don’t know)–and he took the opportunity presented by his slow chug through the middle of the Mediterranean to host a few Middle Eastern, Africa, and European leaders. Ibn Saud was one of his guests. It was the first time Ibn Saud, the first Saudi king, had met an American president.
During Ibn Saud’s visit, the two leaders discussed several topics. FDR was keen to get Saudi support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, and needless to say he rolled craps on that one. Ultimately, they came to terms on what’s sometimes called the Quincy Agreement, in which FDR pledged American military support for the Saudis (this was still very early in the Saudi oil boom, so the Saudis were keenly interested in being adopted by a Great Power patron) in return for secure American access to Saudi oil and Saudi political support for the US in the Middle East. Apart from the occasional hiccup (the 1973 OPEC embargo being the main one), US-Saudi relations have been pretty strong ever since, and the American people (not to mention Yemenis, Syrians, Saudi Shiʿites, Bahrainis, Afghans, etc.) have been paying the price for it. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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