U.S. Quietly Expanding Defense Ties with Saudis

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The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are quietly working together to expand defense ties between their countries.
One of the driving forces behind the move is developing an elite force to protect Saudi Arabia's oil wells and future nuclear sites.

"The Saudis remain highly concerned about the vulnerability of their energy production facilities," the U.S. State Department said in a cable.

"They recognize many of their energy facilities remain at risk from al-Qaeda and other terrorists who seek to disrupt the global economy," the cable read.

The U.S. may also help create an air and missile defense system to defend the Saudis from Iran.

"It's not only about defending against a single military threat like Iran, but also an expression, politically and symbolically, of a U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia's long-term security," Christopher Blanchard, a Middle East policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service, explained.

"It's about seeing the U.S.-Saudi relationship into the next generation," he said.
The joint project comes despite a deepening political divide between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. The Saudis are angry with the Obama administration's handling of the recent uprisings in the Arab world.

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