US, Saudi discuss ways to ease tension after JASTA, Yemen
by Daily Sabah with Wires
IstanbulOct 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Wires
Oct 22, 2016 12:00 am
US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir ways to "fix" the US Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, known as JASTA, to ease tension between the two countries.
"We discussed ways to try to fix this in a way that respects and honors the needs and rights of victims of 9/11, but at the same time does not expose American troops and American individuals who may be involved in another country to the potential of losses," Kerry said in a join conference.
US Congress on Sept. 28 overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama's veto of the JASTA, the first veto override of his presidency, meaning the legislation will become U.S. law.
Fifteen out of the 19 hijackers of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were Saudi nationals, though Riyadh has always dismissed suspicions that it backed the attackers, who killed nearly 3,000 people under the banner of al Qaida.
Saudi Arabia, one of the United States' longest-standing allies in the Arab world, has said the law is a threat to a leading principle that has regulated international relations for hundreds of years preventing lawsuits against sovereign governments.
Considering the increasing tension over Yemen, the Saudi foreign minister said his country reserves the right to protect its border and its citizens, stressing the Kingdom's commitment to maintain its cessation of fire. "I want to emphasize that we have a right to defend ourselves, we have a right to protect our borders, we have a right to protect our citizens and we have to ensure that the other side maintains its commitment to the cessation of hostilities," Jubeir said.
Following 9/11 bill that has increased the tension between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the relationship between the two countries has strained over Yemen after the attack targeted the funeral of the father of Houthi Interior Minister Galal al-Rawishan in capital Sanaa. The United States said it was reviewing its "already significantly reduced" support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. "US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check," White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Muslim countries, backed by the United States, Britain and France, in a war in neighboring Yemen. The campaign, aimed at restoring a government ousted by an Iran-allied militia, is part of a more assertive effort by Riyadh since last year to counter Iran's influence. A Saudi-led coalition, including naval forces, operates a blockade of Yemen as part of efforts to prevent weapons reaching Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies who overran much of Saudi Arabia's neighbor.
Yemen is of crucial importance for the U.S., as the country is home to one of their worst enemies, al-Qaida's deadliest franchise, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has orchestrated numerous high-profile terrorist attacks, including claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Since 2002, the U.S. has been conducting counterterror strikes and operations against radical militants as part of U.S. national security policy.