"When Barack Obama sits down tomorrow with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, he’ll do so knowing the U.S. is importing the least crude in two decades, a shift changing America’s strongest relationship in the Arab world.
Five years after Obama’s first visit to Riyadh, the drilling of shale oil fields from North Dakota to Texas has put the U.S. on the path to energy independence, weakening economic interdependence between the two nations as they work through disagreements on Syria and Iran.
The U.S. energy boom that’s upended global markets is now reshaping political alliances built over decades. Almost 70 years after Franklin Roosevelt cemented relations with the Saudi royal family, the U.S. finds itself free to address policy differences with oil as less of a bargaining chip, analysts said. The shift gives the U.S. a freer hand in shaping Middle East policy, especially in seeking an accommodation with Iran while lessening Saudi influence in Washington."