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Making Amends in Saudi Arabia

Washington and Riyadh Are Ready to Let Bygones Be Bygones

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waits to board his plane at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, September 12, 2014. Brendan Smialowski / Courtesy Reuters

The United States and Saudi Arabia -- one, the world’s preeminent liberal democracy; the other, a conservative monarchy that declares the Koran to be its constitution -- have never been the most natural allies. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that the relationship has had its ups and downs. It reached an apex in 1991, when Saudis fought alongside U.S. troops to reverse Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait, only to hit a nadir a decade later, when 15 Saudis participated in the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington organized by al Qaeda. Since then, the Saudi government has become more suspicious of U.S. foreign policy, bristling at the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the encouragement of pro- democracy protests during the Arab Spring, and the ongoing attempt to strike a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

But the sudden rise of the brutal militant group

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