Fears are growing that the U.S. could face retaliation over a proposed bill to allow loved ones of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.
News reports in Saudi media claim that it could “open the gates of hell,” by encouraging other countries to sue the U.S. in turn, for its own war crimes.
Okaz, a daily newspaper wrote an article titled “Congress’s Satanic Deed Opens the Gates of Hell for the World’s Largest Country,” Brietbart News reported.
Information linking Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks was reportedly redacted prior to the official report’s release to the public. Some lawmakers are now demanding that the 28-redacted pages be made public. Questions remain over whether Qatar and Saudi Arabia should be able to be sued for supporting terrorist groups.
The proposed legislation, The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, shows “no justice or morality in American politics,” according to Saudi media reports. It also accuses lawmakers of bypassing international law. Under it, countries are immune to legal proceedings from other nations.
“One day, this law will be used to sue all those who caused the destruction of Iraq, Syria, and Libya and spread terror organizations in them, and everyone who planned to destroy Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco,” Saudi columnist Fadhel Bin Sa’d Al-Bu’aynin wrote. “The monster will rise up against its creator.”
On Tuesday, the Senate approved the bill. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) have said they are trying to quickly get the bill up for a vote in the House, according to The Hill.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other lawmakers have reservations about it.
“I think we need to look at it,” Ryan told reporters last month, according to The Hill. “I think we need to review it to make sure we are not making mistakes with our allies and we’re not catching people in this that shouldn’t be caught up in this.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), co-sponsor of the bill, has also urged caution.
Even if the House approves it, President Barack Obama is expected to veto the proposed bill. The Obama administration has vocally opposed the bill. Some have said it could destabilize the world economy by creating distrust among investors.
In various reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated the Obama administration is concerned about relations with ally Saudi Arabia, as well as the possibility of opening up the U.S. to lawsuits, if other countries take a similar stance against the U.S.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.S. would benefit from a destabilization of the global financial market, Earnest reportedly said.
In an interview with CBS News, Obama said, “If we open up the possibility that individuals and the United States can routinely start suing other governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries.”
Saudi Arabia could ultimately withdraw investment support from the U.S. if the law passes.
Riyadh, the largest city in Saudi Arabia could “sell up to $750 billion worth of American assets” if the law passes, Reuters reported.
Minister Adel al-Jubeir reportedly told reporters in Geneva that the withdrawal of investment was not threatened, but rather, the U.S.’s proposed law could damage investor confidence, according to Reuters.
“When we invest, we invest as investors,” Adel al-Jubeir reportedly said. “When we sell oil, we sell oil as traders.”
Obama is planning to meet Wednesday with Saudi officials in Riyadh. But it is not clear if the bill is set to be a key topic of discussion.
Both democratic presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have endorsed the legislation.
[Photo by Kena Betancur, Getty Images]