Saudis could pull billions from US economy, hinder access to Mideast bases following 9/11 lawsuits

Saudi Arabia and its allies could retaliate against US legislation allowing the kingdom to be sued for the 9/11 attacks, including scaling back investment in the US economy or restricting access to important regional air bases, experts claim.
"This should be clear to America and to the rest of the world. When one Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state is targeted unfairly, the others stand around it,” Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University, told Associated Press.

“All the states will stand by Saudi Arabia in every way possible.”

On Wednesday, Congress overwhelmingly voted to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the bill that would allow Americans to potentially sue Saudi Arabia for 9/11. Lawmakers said their priority was not Saudi Arabia, but victims and families.

The “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)” would allow US judges to waive sovereign immunity claims when dealing with acts of terrorism committed on American soil – potentially allowing lawsuits against Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 attacks. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, told AP that Saudi Arabia could respond in a way that risks US strategic interests.

That could include Saudi restricting its rules for overflight between Europe and Asia and the Qatari air base from which US military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are directed, Freeman says.

“The souring of relations and curtailing of official contacts that this legislation would inevitably produce could also jeopardize Saudi cooperation against anti-American terrorism,” Freeman told AP.

Obama vetoed JASTA last week, saying it would erode the doctrine of sovereign immunity and expose the US to lawsuits around the world.

He argued the bill could lead to other governments acting “reciprocally” by allowing their own courts to exercise jurisdiction over the US, including over deadly US drone strikes.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in June that the US has the most to lose if JASTA is enacted.

There have been reports that Riyadh threatened to pull billions of dollars from the US economy if the bill became law, however al-Jubeir has only officially said investor confidence in the US could decline.

“No business community likes to see their sovereign nation basically assailed by another nation,” the US-Saudi Business Council’s CEO and Chairman Ed Burton said.

The Saudi-led GCC, established in 1981, consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Emirates.

Capitol Hill overrides Obama's veto on 'Sue the Saudis' 9/11 bill

Earlier this month, the group expressed “deep concern” over JASTA, with its Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani calling it “contrary to the foundations and principles of relations between states and the principle of sovereign immunity enjoyed by states.”

In a separate statement, the government of Qatar said JASTA ”violates international law, particularly the principle of sovereign equality between states," according to Reuters.

“Such laws will negatively affect the international efforts and international cooperation to combat terrorism,” said the Emirates Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to the state news agency WAM. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were Emirati.

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US Bill Allowing 9/11 Victims to Sue Riyadh Threatens Global Stability

Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani said that US bill that would allow terror victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia disrupts international relations and threatens to plunge the world economy into a depression.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — An US bill that would allow terror victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia is "ill-advised" and threatens global stability, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said Wednesday citing the the head of the organization.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), approved by the US Congress last week, would override current Saudi claims to sovereign immunity, allowing families of September 11 terrorist attack victims to bring a long-standing federal court case against the Saudi government for allegedly sponsoring the 2001 attacks. US President Barack Obama announced plans to veto the bill.

"[Secretary-General Iyad Ameen] Madani said that in passing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, Congress disrupts international relations, threatens to plunge the world economy into a depression, weakens the necessary alliances that promote peace and security around the world, and compromises the war on terrorism," the OIC's statement read.

The OIC chief warned that if the JASTA became law, it would remove the benefits of "centuries-old" laws and international norms that promote the comity of nations, as well as would plunge the world into chaos if other nations passed reciprocal laws.

According to the statement, Madani expressed the hope that "wisdom will prevail," and Congress would reconsider and recall the bill.

Saudi Arabia, which denies responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, strongly opposed to the bill, and said that in case the JASTA was adopted, international law would turn into the "law of the jungle." Ryiadh also said it could sell up to $750 billion worth US securities and assets in response to the adoption of the bill.

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Russia, Saudi Arabia Sign Oil Pact, May Limit Output in Future

The two countries have been effectively fighting a proxy war in Syria and Moscow also sees itself as an ally of Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on Monday to cooperate in world oil markets, saying they will not act immediately but could limit output in the future, sending prices higher on hopes the two top oil producers would work together to tackle a global glut.

RELATED: Russia: Saudi Arabia May Cut Oil Production

The joint statement was signed by the country's energy ministers in China on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit and followed a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the two countries were moving toward a strategic energy partnership and that a high level of trust would allow them to address global challenges. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the agreement would also encourage other producers to cooperate.

Oil prices soared almost 5 percent ahead of a news conference by the two ministers, but pared gains to trade up 2 percent by 6.30 a.m. ET as the agreement yielded no immediate action.

"There is no need now to freeze production ... We have time to take this kind of decision," Falih said.

"Freezing production is one of the preferred possibilities, but it does not have to happen specifically today."

Even if the Monday statement was short on action, it marks a significant development in the Russia-Saudi relationship. The two countries have been effectively fighting a proxy war in Syria and Moscow also sees itself as a partner of sorts with Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival in the Middle East.

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