Saudi Arabia: Both Riyadh and the US President were dealt a black eye on September 28 when the US Congress overturned Barak Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act [JASTA].
The JASTA bill, which was effectively signed into law following the overwhelming bipartisan vote in both the Senate and House, allows families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Riyadh.
Passed in May and September, the bill was vetoed by the Obama White House last week. A few days later, the US Congress inflicted the first veto override of Obama’s presidency, less than four months before he leaves office.
The president of the Washington-based American Institute for Foreign Policy, Michael Lane, thinks the legislation is “extraordinary on a number of different fronts”.
“This is the first of Obama’s vetoes that has been overridden by the US Congress in his entire two terms in office. That is a record that has been unmatched by really any other modern-day president. The second thing is the substance of the legislation itself. This has the potential for other countries around the world to retaliate against the United States and we could find ourselves in courts in foreign capitals,” Lane said.
Naturally, the Saudis and their ‘satellite states’ in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) lobbied furiously against the bill, warning of severe economic consequences against the US if the measure was passed.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s state-funded Al-Arabia network reported that the kingdom “has an arsenal of ways to respond to JASTA.”
To say nothing of the fact that Persian Gulf monarchies often reserve such language for their regional foes, it is also worth pointing out that just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for politicians on Capitol Hill to rally against the regime in Riyadh, especially in such convincing numbers.
The Washington-Riyadh Schism Is Part Of A Broader Global Phenomenon
Few can claim to have been surprised by revelations pointing to Saudi Arabia as the country most deeply implicated in the 9/11 attacks. The KSA was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers, as well as Osama bin Laden himself.
But Saudi ties to the 9/11 attacks were only ‘officially’ confirmed by Riyadh’s key global ally in a 28-page segment from a report issued by the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.
The 28 pages, which were kept under lock and key since 2002, were finally released to the public earlier this year.
The redacted document reads, “In the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government.”
It goes on to explain that at least two of the hijackers were “provided substantial assistance” by Omar al-Bayoumi, whom the FBI identified as a Saudi intelligence agent, while some hijackers received paychecks from a company financed by the Saudi Ministry of Defense.
The timing of this release as well as the passing of JASTA is often explained by citing the fact that it coincides with an election year in the US. But this is the fourth presidential race since 9/11 and can hardly be considered a time when anger over the terrorist attacks is at an all time high.
The passing of JASTA is also described as a manifestation of the deepening rift between Washington and Riyadh, over the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Iran and tensions over US foreign policy in Syria.
This may very well be true. But the US-Saudi rift is only a small part of a much broader global schism between different factions of the global ‘elite’.
A Global Transformation
Today the US finds itself in an imperial post-democratic phase, striving to establish a global hegemony, led and governed only by the world’s super rich.
This phase of the globalization project requires the transformation of both the US and the world as a whole.
The 9/11 attacks represent the cornerstone in America’s transformation from a classical republic into a corporate empire. The country’s neocons, which aggressively seek the destruction of ‘unfriendly’ states, play a major role in this transformation with the help of global capital – and most importantly, the banking system.
This aggressive and conflicting ideology, which is tearing down state institutions, creating millions of refugees and destroying the middle class, has also produced a backlash, giving rise to politicians who have scored big using the ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘nationalist’ rhetoric.
Even the current US presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, represent the two opposing sides of this political spectrum.
The neocon agenda has essentially created a permanent schism between the ‘globalist’ and ‘conservative’ factions in the US, before spilling over and dividing the entire global ‘elite’.
The globalists, who enjoy much broader support from lobbies and foreign governments, including the Saudi monarchy, are using the US as a vessel for attaining global domination. Meanwhile the conservatives/nationalists want to use America’s global exploits as a vessel for “making America great again”.
The aspirations of the conservative camp should not be confused with an interest in abandoning Washington’s interventionist policies. That said, however, their ‘nationalist’ character views the Persian Gulf elites as a destabilizing force, while governments like Tehran, Moscow and Beijing are considered as actors that could potentially help secure US national interests in some parts of the world.
JASTA exemplifies this schism, which is certain to feature prominently in global politics for decades to come.
A bipartisan group of former neoconservative national security officials, including President George W. Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley, President Bill Clinton’s secretary of defense William Cohen, as well as Richard Clarke, who served as the national security aide to both Clinton and Bush, were among the first urging Obama to veto the bill.
“The harm this legislation will cause the United States will be both dramatic and long-lasting,” and if enacted, the bill “will most certainly undermine our relationship with one of our most important allies, Saudi Arabia, and damage our relationship with the entire Middle East,” the former bureaucrats wrote in a letter addressed to the US president.
The director of the CIA, John Brennan, warned that the legislation would have “grave implications” for US national security.
But Michael Lane does not believe that JASTA will have any significant impact on US-Saudi relations in the short-term.
“I don’t think that the Saudis will take any action that is going to be significant or irreversible. The real question becomes who wins the elections here in November and when they take office in January what is their policy going to be vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia.”
A ‘globalist’ White House with Hillary Clinton at the helm could tip the scales in Riyadh’s favor, while a more ‘nationalist’ Trump administration may help accelerate the US-Saudi schism.
Source: Al-Ahed News