UAE warns 9/11 bill could cause ‘chaos’

Min­is­ter says pro­posed US ter­ror­ism law vi­o­lates prin­ci­ple of sovereignty

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir

A pro­posed US law that would al­low the rel­a­tives of 9/11 vic­tims to sue Saudi Ara­bia has the po­ten­tial to cause “chaos” in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, a UAE min­is­ter has said.

HH Sheikh Ab­dul­lah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, is­sued the warn­ing af­ter Congress passed a bill that would pave the way for such cases. The Jus­tice Against Spon­sors of Ter­ror­ism Act ( JASTA) would, for the first time, au­tho­rise Amer­i­can courts to hear cases in­volv­ing claims against a for­eign state for in­juries, deaths or dam­ages that can be proven to have been com­mit­ted by that state or any of its of­fi­cials.

Fif­teen of the 19 hi­jack­ers in 9/11 were Saudi na­tion­als, al­though the 9/11 Com­mis­sion Re­port in 2004 found “no ev­i­dence” the Saudi govern­ment or of­fi­cials funded the hi­jack­ers.

Sheikh Ab­dul­lah was quoted by UAE news agency WAM as say­ing: “This law is not equal with the foun­da­tions and prin­ci­ples of re­la­tions among states and rep­re­sents a clear vi­o­la­tion given its neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions and dan­ger­ous prece­dents.”

WAM went on to re­port: “HH Sheikh Ab­dul­lah warned of the neg­a­tive ef­fects of the law on all coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, and the pos­si­ble im­pact of chaos in the con­text of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, em­pha­sis­ing that such laws will neg­a­tively af­fect in­ter­na­tional ef­forts and co­op­er­a­tion to com­bat ter­ror­ism.”

WAM re­ported that Sheikh Ab­dul­lah said the UAE was look­ing for­ward to US leg­isla­tive author­i­ties re­view­ing the law and not rat­i­fy­ing it in light of the se­ri­ous con­se­quences it would have on the “in­ter­na­tional prin­ci­ples at­tached to sovereignty”. It added: “He con­cluded by say­ing that the UAE is look­ing to the US author­i­ties to not en­dorse this law in or­der to en­sure the main­te­nance of ac­cepted in­ter­na­tional sys­tems and prin­ci­ples.” The White House has sig­nalled that US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama would veto the leg­is­la­tion over the po­ten­tial for it to back­fire and ap­pre­hen­sion about un­der­min­ing a long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Saudi Ara­bia, a crit­i­cal US ally in the Mid­dle East. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has warned that if US cit­i­zens can take the Saudis to court then a for­eign coun­try could in turn sue the United States. Votes from two-thirds of the mem­bers in the House and Se­nate would be needed to over­ride a veto. Dr Ab­del Khaleq Ab­dul­lah, an As­so­ci­ate Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence Pro­fes­sor at UAE Univer­sity, said that the US could lose in­vestors from the GCC re­gion if the law is ap­proved, echo­ing com­ments made by the Saudi for­eign min­is­ter in May, who claimed in­vestors from many coun­tries could have a re­think. The Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) yes­ter­day also ex­pressed con­cern about the bill. Ab­dul­lah said: “It seems like a law that has been cre­ated for re­venge and not to pro­vide jus­tice. It is tar­get­ing friends, namely Saudi Ara­bia. It’s go­ing to leave a lot of bad scars on Saudi Ara­bia and its friends. The UAE has made it­self clear that the law is un­just.” He claimed “a lot of in­vestors are think­ing of sell­ing their in­vest­ments in the US if the law comes into ef­fect”. In May, Saudi Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs Adel Al Jubeir had said: “What they are do­ing is strip­ping the prin­ci­ple of sov­er­eign im­mu­ni­ties, which would turn the world for in­ter­na­tional law into the law of the jun­gle.”

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