Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, and Modern Islam
This paper examines Saudi-Soviet diplomacy in the interwar period, which has received little scholarly coverage but has had an important impact on the Middle East and the Muslim World. In the 1920s and the 1930s, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union cooperated closely in a number of areas, and Western governments recognised that an alliance would have transformed politics in the Middle East. The failure of the diplomatic relationship to last was a missed opportunity for both states and for the wider Muslim world. Not only did it limit Soviet diplomacy in the Arab World and cement the US-Saudi alliance, but it also cut off Soviet Muslims from Arabia. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the legacy Saudi-Soviet relations in the interwar period remained important. Al-Qaeda used Riyadh’s historic ties with Washington to justify its violence, while millions of Muslims in the former Soviet Union re-embraced their faith and forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia than ever before.