Jim Mattis in Riyadh to boost US-Saudi alliance

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017, 08:49 AM IST

Riyadh: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to reinvigorate the Riyadh-Washington alliance, with both seeing a common adversary in Iran and its "destabilising" activities.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

But ties between Riyadh and Washington became increasingly frayed during the administration of president Barack Obama.

Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting toward Riyadh's regional rival Iran.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom "felt

That deal, signed in July 2015 by the Obama administration, saw the lifting of international sanctions in exchange for guarantees that Tehran will not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.

Mattis arrived in Riyadh yesterday afternoon, wishing to "reinvigorate" ties by listening to Saudi leaders and learning "what are their priorities", the official said.

The retired four-star Marine general will meet King

The deputy crown prince last month met President Donald Trump in Washington.

Saudi leaders worry about Iran interfering in Arab countries by using Shiite communities to advance their pawns, as in Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen.

Bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen has been torn for more than two years by a civil war between Iran-backed Huthi rebels, their allies, and pro-government forces aided by a Saudi-led military coalition that receives some military support from the US.

The Saudis have found a more
Mattis has called Iran "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world".

In February, Trump imposed new sanctions on Tehran after a ballistic missile test launch, and in response to its support for Yemen's rebels.

The US military is watching

Rebels in late January attacked a Saudi warship in the Red Sea, and they are also believed to have fired missiles towards US warships in the area.

The United States accuses the rebels of deploying coastal

"I am extraordinarily concerned about another contested maritime chokepoint in the region," US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee in March.