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US bill set to undermine trust with Saudis, vitiate ties

|Arabian Post Research|The Middle East geopolitics is set to enter a new flashpoint over the US legislation that will ultimately allow families of the victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabian for responsibility for the terrorist attack.

Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have passed a bill to this effect unopposed, but   President Barack Obama is expected to veto the legislation, although Congress could override the veto.

The legislation would provide a legal route for the victim families to implicate Saudi Arabia in the incident by creating an exception to the sovereign immunity of Saudi Arabia alleging state-sponsored terrorism.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attacks were Saudi citizens. Recently released classified information suggests that the hijackers may have received assistance from Saudis connected to their government.

The Saudi government has vehemently denied any role and threatened to sell off the kingdom’s U.S. Treasury debt and other American assets, which totaled $750 billion. According to Bloomberg, the Saudi government held $117 billion in U.S. Treasury debt in March in addition to holdings not included in the data on deposit with the New York Federal Reserve Bank, in entities in third countries, or through positions in derivatives.

The US administration has serious concerns about the bill’s unintended consequences that would expose the United States and its interests to significant risks as it would permit civil claims against foreign officials and states for terrorist acts that occur within the U.S. That would enable courts to impose liability and assess financial punishments.

Irrespective of whether the legislation leads to all the feared consequences, it will surely create new tension between Saudi Arabia and the US, the two leading strategic players in the Middle East geopolitics.

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