Deeply frustrated with the Obama administration's stalled efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Riyadh is pushing for U.N. recognition of Palestinian sovereignty this fall, an approach the White House is determined to thwart.
Prince Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the United States, warned this month in an op-ed in the Washington Post that an American veto of the Palestinian effort would have "disastrous consequences" for the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
The United States and Saudi Arabia are drifting apart on energy, too.
For decades both countries saw mutual benefit in holding down oil prices. But now, with Riyadh stepping up foreign aid and embarking on a $130-billion domestic subsidy program to prevent internal unrest, it needs steeper oil prices.
"In the old days, you could call them and ask them to do something about high oil prices," said Herman Franssen, former chief economist at the International Energy Agency, a 28-nation organization that seeks to ensure stable energy supplies. "They are not going to be dictated to by the United States anymore."