What will result of September 11 conflict between the US and Saudi Arabia be?
The US Senate passed legislation that would allow families of September 11 attacks victims to sue Saudi Arabia's government for damages, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto, Reuters reports.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) co-sponsor, Senator Charles Schumer, said that "the families of victims of terrorist attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators, even if it's a country, a nation".
Now, the project must be taken up by the US House of Representatives, after which it must be signed by the US President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto the legislation.
The White House spokesperson Josh Earnest reiterated Obama's opposition to the bill. "Given the concerns we have expressed, it’s difficult to imagine the president signing this legislation," he said.
Thus, the scandal between Washington and Riyadh in connection with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack is actively developing. There have been three important events in the past month. Firstly, the US Treasury Department released a breakdown of Saudi Arabia’s holdings of US debt: the amount of which stood at $116.8 billion. Secondly, the US Senate passed legislation that would allow families of September 11 attacks victims to sue Saudi Arabia, 28 pages of the congressional inquiry into the attacks remains classified. In response, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell the US assets of $ 750 billion. Thirdly, billionaire George Soros cut his firm's investments in US stocks by more than a third in the first quarter and bought a $264 million stake in the world's biggest bullion producer Barrick Gold Corp.
Vestnik Kavkaza asked experts whether these events are related and how the situation will develop further.
The Chairman of the Board of the National Currency Association (NCA), Dmitry Piskulov, speaking with a correspondent, noted that a sale of such a large amount of US assets means a reduction in the price of US government bonds and increase in the interest rate on US treasuries. "This may lead to an increase in the cost of borrowing. In general, there is no mass rejection of US government bonds among the central banks and investors. Therefore, of course, Saudi Arabia's actions can cause damage, but it will not be critical. This situation has arisen because the US is teetering on the edge between two kinds of values. And one of them is freedom, liberal values and punishment for the perpetrators. That is, we have a classic example of a conflict of interests," the expert said.
"Of course, the United States is interested in Saudi Arabia, which is its ally, but these are two fundamentally different countries. One country is a totalitarian monarchy with Wahhabi regime and another is a developed democracy with a developed system of elections, freedom of speech, etc. Of course, Americans often use undemocratic regimes in order to promote their interests. But, nevertheless, and it was known back during George W. Bush administration that the terrorist attack involved mainly people from Saudi Arabia, who studied in the US. George Bush let it slide, but the Obama administration, the media and victims' families believe that Saudi Arabia should be punished. And here the two values - allied obligations and ethical obligations - come into conflict," Dmitry Piskulov explained.
"I think that the US diplomacy has to try very hard to figure out this difficult situation. That is, on the one hand, they should put pressure on the government of Saudi Arabia to start an investigation and provide information. On the other hand, the US is not interested in Saudi Arabia selling its assets. I think that Saudi Arabia is bluffing because it could not get rid of such a large amount of US bonds, because it needs to make safe investments. And US bonds is a safe investment," the Chairman of the Board of the National Currency Association summed up.
The head of the Center for Strategic Development of the CIS Countries under the RAS Institute of Europe, Alexander Gusev, in turn, suggested that the confrontation between the United States and its key ally in the Middle East is a rather far-fetched story. "It appears to me that there's something else behind what seems to be worsening relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. And there are new players in the Middle East, or rather the old players received new opportunities," the expert said.
"First of all, I mean Iran, since the US sanctions against it were lifted. This is the first thing. Secondly, we will never know about the true reasons and the name of the contractors of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Yes, there are victims, 2956 people, as I recall. These people should have had the ability to sue from the very beginning, but they had not, because it was not clear in respect to what country they needed to do it. Considering the fact that the vast majority of terrorists was somehow connected to Saudi Arabia, Congress members came to this conclusion today," Alexander Gusev explained.
The political scientist reminded that there is a classified 28-page report, which was prepared by US intelligence agencies. "It is classified, but when Obama was asked whether he read the report, he said: "I have a sense of what is in there". In other words, it is so secret that even the president of the United States did not read it. That is why I think it will not be published, because then some very interesting things would surface. Saudis, of course, were the perpetrators, but judging from public sources of information, I can say that very powerful forces outside of Saudi Arabia stand behind this," he said.
"Despite all this, the Saudis will never go to an open confrontation with the United States, because otherwise Saudi Arabia would be ruined as a state," Alexander Gusev concluded.