Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor's Name

Felix Martin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Naisy Sarduy

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Iqbal Akhtar

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Saudi Arabia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Security, Strategy, Diplomacy, Alliance, Iran Nuclear Deal

Date of Defense



This thesis explores what effect Saudi and American policy differences towards Iran have had on their bilateral relations. It is based on the recent thaw in Iran-U.S. relations, and the critical reaction of the Saudi government towards this policy. The question has two components – first, how severe the current Saudi-American rift is, and second, to what extent it can be traced to their differences over Iran. The topic will be addressed through process-tracing methods.

The thesis concludes that there is indeed a rift in Saudi-U.S. relations marked by an increasingly assertive and independent Saudi foreign policy, though its alliance with America will likely endure. It also concludes that while the thaw in relations between Iran and the U.S. on the nuclear issue was not ultimately the major factor, more general differences over Iran are one of the most significant reasons for the Saudi-U.S. rift.





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