Arab News – A cross-section of Saudis, including academics and human rights activists, expressed cautious appreciation of US President Barack Obama’s vetoing of the Congress-sanctioned Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a bill they deem a “poor decision.”
“In fact, JASTA promotes neither justice nor reconciliation, and it would miserably fail to deter terrorism,” said Ibrahim Al-Qayid, a member of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights.
“President Obama had always stated that he would veto this bill when it comes to him, and that is a veto all US allies agree with and appreciate,” he said.
Obama on Friday vetoed the controversial legislation aimed at helping the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks sue Saudi Arabia.
The measure, which was unanimously passed by both Houses of the US Congress, would have enabled the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia if it is found legally liable for helping support the terrorist acts on US soil.
The Kingdom, and most of the UN member states, including OIC nations, strongly condemned the legislation.
Salman Arify, professor at Imam bin Saud Islamic University, said: “The bill was rightly vetoed … as it contradicts international law and the principles of the UN Charter, particularly regarding the sovereignty and equality of states.”
He termed the US Congress bill against Saudi Arabia “an attempt to create a wedge between the US and the Muslim Ummah.”
“These kinds of measures or acts would alienate (American) allies in the war on terror and encourage terrorists and terror outfits in the volatile Middle East,” said Arify, who also commended Obama.
“No doubt, such measures call for US president’s interference as a matter of priority. The bill could have caused billions of dollars to be withdrawn from the US,” said Mohammed Shahnawaz, a local banker, adding that “investors’ confidence in the US would also have shrunk if the bill would have become law.” He added that such a law would also have the potential to put US citizens and interests at risk overseas.
The White House decision was also welcomed by US allies who share concerns about the US becoming a venue for citizens to sue governments.
The European Union had warned that such legislation would be “in conflict with fundamental principles of international law.”
“State immunity is a central pillar of the international legal order,” the demarche noted, adding that other countries could take “reciprocal action.”
Former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former CIA head Michael Morell and Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s national security adviser, were among a group of high-profile security figures to warn the legislation would hurt US interests.