Fahd's foreign policy professes a commitment to Arab unity, regional peace, and global community. Primary concerns have always been to maintain the kingdom's security and its paramount position on the Arabian Peninsula, to defend general Arab and Islamic interests, to promote solidarity among Islamic governments, and to maintain cooperative relations with other oil-producing and major oil-consuming countries. While Saudi Arabia has always maintained close relations with the West and particularly the United States, Fahd is considered to be more pro-West than other royal family members. Fahd took over as crown prince at a very crucial time. Since the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the oil embargo, and subsequent oil price hike, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a major actor in the international arena and is a leading power in the Arab world.
The Saudi government frequently helps mediate regional crises and supports the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Though Fahd is fully supportive of the Palestinian cause, he has presented peace plans calling for compromise that would indirectly recognize the legitimacy of Israel and protect freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem while providing for the creation of a Palestinian state. In March 2002, the Saudi government put forward a new peace proposal for the Palestinians and Israelis. Referred to as the "Beirut Declaration," the plan offered Israel normalized relations with the Arab states and a guarantee of peace and security in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a "just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem," and Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state with its capital at East Jerusalem. Although the plan at the time was highly regarded, violence in Israel and the occupied territories increased in spring 2002, as the then-18-month-old al Aqsa intifada intensified.
Although Saudi Arabia actively supported Iraq during the war with Iran, it sided with the United States when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, making a substantial contribution of arms, oil, and funds to the international coalition allied against Iraq. It also permitted foreign troops to be stationed on its soil, a decision at odds with its traditional policies.
In response to regional threats, Fahd has been actively involved in the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which consists of Arab Gulf states in the Arabian peninsula. Saudi Arabia has had very close relations with the United States since President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz. The United States has historically been a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia. The continued Arab-Israeli conflict, however, and growing domestic opposition in the United States to providing arms to Saudi Arabia have led the Saudis to find other arms suppliers, such as the United Kingdom and France. Still, Fahd is considered an advocate of close ties with the United States and during his reign the two nations have maintained very friendly relations. U.S. support increased following the Gulf War and Iraq's failure to comply with international pressure to disarm.
Due to the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were Saudis, in addition to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the United States placed pressure on Saudi Arabia to adopt counterterrorism measures. In addition, the U.S. placed pressure on Saudi Arabia to support its efforts to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power in 2002–03. In February 2003, Saudi Arabia stated it would allow the use of the Prince Sultan air base, home to 5,000 U.S. troops, for the enforcement of a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq, but not for offensive use in a war. The U.S.-led war in Iraq began on 19 March 2003, and by 9 April, Baghdad fell to U.S. troops (Basra and southern regions of Iraq had been secured by British troops). Following the end of the combat stage of the war in late April, the U.S. declared it was withdrawing its forces from Prince Sultan air base to be redeployed elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region. At the height of the Iraqi conflict, some 10,000 U.S. troops were at Prince Sultan air base, and they were being moved to Qatar's Al Udeid air base. The redeployment of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia has been seen as a realignment of security commitments between the two countries, and a recognition of the high degree of anti-American sentiment among a large segment of the Saudi population. The degree to which geopolitical changes in the region might affect Saudi society—either in initiating a process of democratic reform or in solidifying Islamic conservatism—is an open question.