Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has admitted that he has been pressuring the US government to change the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
JASTA permits victims of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as their families, to sue Riyadh, or any other sovereign entity thought to be supporting terrorism in the US. Of the 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists who were involved in the attack, 15 were from Saudi Arabia.
In September, President Barack Obama vetoed JASTA, but Congress overwhelmingly voted to override his veto. The President had argued that the bill would open up the United States to lawsuits over their own actions abroad.
Riyadh’s Jubeir announced at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry that they both oppose the law.
“We believe the law, that curtails sovereign immunities, represents a grave danger to the international system,” Jubeir said.
Since the passage of JASTA, several lawmakers in other nations have threatened legislation of their own to allow counter lawsuits against US officials. The bill is seen by some as a threat to sovereign immunity.
“The United States is, by eroding this principle, opening the door for other countries to take similar steps and then before you know it international order becomes governed by the law of the jungle,” Jubeir said. “The question now becomes how do you go about amending the law.”
Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), echoed Saudi concerns. He has referred to the bill as “a dangerous precedent in international law that undermines the principle of sovereign immunity and the future of sovereign investments in the United States.”
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